NAACP Takes Up the Clean-Energy Fight

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Amid the sea of statistics I scan each day, one jumped out recently: According to a study, African-American children are four to six times more likely than white children to die from asthma (pdf). That chronic disease, along with other illnesses, is linked to toxins pumped out by coal-fired power plants, and approximately 68 percent of African American families live within 30 miles of a coal-fired plant. Given the disproportionate impact that these illnesses have on black families, addressing these challenges is a civil rights imperative.

The NAACP has decided to shape the emerging clean economy by engaging in it. Starting this year, a full 100 percent of the energy that the NAACP’s Baltimore headquarters consumes will come from Green-E Certified Wind Power. We joined a purchasing group consisting of more than 100 other local community nonprofits and faith institutions facilitated through a nonprofit called Groundswell and the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation.

By strengthening our economic power in the electricity market, we locked in lower rates on clean energy. Our headquarters will switch to clean energy while saving $7,000 on its annual energy bill -- an 18 percent reduction. Furthermore, our members will be able to enjoy the same savings.

Creative approaches like this one are crucial to accelerating the nation's shift away from energy sources that contaminate the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. We are on our way to debunking a powerful myth that clean energy comes with higher energy costs. It’s an idea that prevents many families from insisting on clean power.

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