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For Immediate Release

Contact

San Antonio: Diana Lopez, 210.535.7060, swujustice@gmail.com 
Houston: Juan Parras, 281.513.7799

Press Release

Frontline Organizations Demand a Just Recovery After Millions are Left to Freeze in the Face of Another Climate Catastrophe in Texas & the Southeast

Call on Officials to Invest in Community Solutions for Safe & Reliable Energy
WASHINGTON -

As our neighbors burn furniture to stay warm amidst widespread power outages in below freezing temperatures, this arctic weather event, fueled by the climate crisis, has exposed the vulnerability of the Texas power grid and its failure to effectively serve its people. It is clear how much we need a just recovery: an all-encompassing, community-based, solutions oriented approach putting community needs and equity above profit in these times of climate chaos. We must prioritize a Just Transition to a modern, regenerative and renewable energy system, one that is clean and safe for us all. 

The current reliance on the fossil fuel industry and the historic stranglehold its industry holds in Texas politics underlies the lack of comprehensive extreme weather planning, mitigation and preparedness. This has left the region, state and especially frontline communities, in a state of continuous crises. While the oil and gas industries have tried to blame what is happening on alternative energy models, the reality is they did not build resilient infrastructure that can adapt to increasingly extreme weather. 

An outdated, overly fossil fuel reliant, heavily privatized electricity grid has failed, leaving 3 to 4 million households without power for days not only in Texas, but throughout the region that is the cradle of this industry. Far too many people have died and hundreds more have been hospitalized, as Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Asian and other frontline communities once again remain the hardest hit. Thousands more are also facing contaminated water and massive damages from broken pipes. The privatization of the Texas energy grid is the seed of this crisis, where the profits of fossil fuel industries have been prioritized over the needs of the people. 

The climate crisis is risking lives and it is impacting all communities, those at the margins are the hardest hit. Individuals with disabilities that rely on medical respirators, families having to break quarantine to keep eachother safe, and all the while the cost of energy increases during a time where the economy is a long way from stabilizing.The true cost of ignoring climate change is sadly yet to come, as those affected by this most recent extreme weather in the region are seeing the aftermath of burst water pipes, non weatherized homes and outdated infrastructure ill-equipped to handle the reality of climate change.

While our communities work to recover from Covid-19, massive job loss and the current climate crises, now is the time for investments to move toward a Just Transition to rebuild clean water and energy infrastructure for our future. We can put millions of people to work by creating locally controlled clean energy jobs, building new stable systems of power without pollution, and energy without exploitation. This is the time to Build Back Fossil Free
 
Water and energy are not commodities -- they are basic human rights.  We need emergency response right now to distribute solar power, clean water and basic emergency needs for vulnerable communities as well as long term changes toward a healthy and sustainable future. We recognize that other communities in neighboring states are also impacted by the devastating winter vortex, power outages and water shortages.  We support their efforts to self organize and will act in coordination and solidarity with all of those on the frontlines of climate catastrophes. 
 
As our communities continue to care for each other through local mutual aid networks long established to deal with crises like these, we call on local and state officials to immediately begin a just recovery by: 
 
Organizers & Organizations, Foundations & Philanthropists

  • Moving funds directly to mutual aid and grassroots organizations working on the frontlines to support Black, Indigenous, people of color communities. These existing networks are the lifeline of neighborhoods and work to rapidly support the needs of people while working to change the policy and/or structures that fail the people. 
  • Including the most impacted  populations and communities into municipal and state climate action planning bodies to directly create solutions and implementation on the ground. The largest municipalities in Texas have passed climate actions plans which often don’t exert direct control over their utilities, the largest climate polluters.

Municipal & State:

  • Truthful assessment of what went wrong, who is responsible and what can be done to fix the problem(s) so they don’t happen again.
  • Creating a municipal fund using local contractors to support weatherizing homes, fixing residential water pipes, and updating home electrical to support extreme weather. 
  • Investing in decentralized, regenerative energy micro-grids for emergencies that can be counted on providing critical needs during times of disaster.
  • Establish an ongoing emergency short term and immediate funding vehicle for workers who have suffered loss of wages due to transportation issues, closures, as well as for other unanticipated costs in times of disaster and crises.
  • Local and state officials support a Green New Deal to be passed and enacted at the federal level.
  • Elimination of gas and electric cutoffs as policy for nonpayment for those in crisis through the COVID-19 crisis and permanently for those at or below 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines. 
  • Extension of an eviction moratorium through the current crisis and rehousing of homeless and vulnerable populations.

Federal:

  • Biden should reenact the export ban on all fossil fuels.
  • Acceleration of research and deployment of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy storage systems.

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Established in 1990 within the United States, IEN was formed by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals to address environmental and economic justice issues (EJ). IEN’s activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.

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