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Amplifying the Intertwining of Black and Environmental Histories

By March 1, 2021No Comments

RII Celebrates Black History Month

To honor Black History Month, the Interstate Renewable Energy Coalition (IREC) recently shared stories about Black leaders in the environmental sustainability landscape, highlighted organizations bringing about environmental justice and representation of people of color in the clean energy industry, and provided information about the progress needed to combat environmental racism. IREC works across the United States to empower individuals, businesses and society to benefit from cleaner forms of energy. 

RII enthusiastically amplifies IREC’s compilation of Black leadership, and underscores the particular racist history surrounding cannabis. IREC notes that jobs for Black or African American workers in the clean energy industry are substantially lagging compared to national workforce averages, making up just 8% of the sector. While there are no published statistics yet, we see through observation that these dynamics are at play in the cannabis cultivation sector as well. 

A second similarity between the energy and cannabis industries is the health impact of production operations. Black communities are 68% more likely to live within 30 miles of power plants, and properties close to facilities average 15% lower property values. 

These issues are being studied in cannabis, with leadership from Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment and others. RII will offer recommendations to governments on how they can address environmental racism through more effective zoning and other practices in its upcoming Cannabis Energy & Environment Policy Primer, to be published in late April.