FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New report links the economy, labor, and climate connections between the Gulf South to
Appalachia– and inspires a call to action.
A new report, the #WeChooseNow Climate Action Strategy, highlights the deep connections between the Gulf South to Appalachia – and serves as a call to action to reject extractive economies and cultivate regional solutions that advance collective healing and climate justice.
JUNE 12, 2023 — For decades, toxic industries rooted in fossil fuel extraction have consumed the Gulf South and Appalachia, while contaminating the land, water, and air. In the Gulf Coast, oil and gas has set-up shop along the coasts, contributing to rising temperatures and rising seas that have had devastating impacts on marine life and health. Meanwhile, the coal industry has contributed to smog and lifelong respiratory illnesses for generations of miners throughout Appalachia.
The #WeChooseNow Climate Action Strategy convened over 150 frontline and allied leaders to share stories, draw connections and analysis, and build power rooted in ancestral wisdom and radical vision. The convening created space to repair generational harms of environmental racism and build a practice of collective governance to protect what is sacred. Out of this process came policies that:
- De-link Federal Emergency Management Agency funding from carceral systems in Louisiana, a region increasingly hit by rising seas and hurricanes.
- Roll back Kentucky’s Right To Work law imposed in 2017, and enable high-roads labor standards for mine reclamation and renewable energy.
- Build from Pennsylvania’s recent Whole Homes Repair win to retrofit houses with strong tenant protections, and retrofit and build more green affordable housing in the state.
- Impose a fossil fuel export ban to stop the Texas buildout of export infrastructure, and invest in a public offshore wind supply chain to benefit Texans.
“The ties that bind the Gulf South to Appalachia are ecological, political, cultural, and economic. These are two regions with a proud history of resistance and creative problem solving,” said Anthony Giancatarino, Strategy Partner at Taproot Earth. “Yet, have faced rampant fossil-fuel extraction, climate disasters, and disingenuous political promises at the expense of human health and wellbeing and ecological justice. In 2022, Hurricane Ida confirmed what we have known for decades in this movement – the Gulf and Appalachia have shared realities. We launched #WeChooseNow Gulf to Appalachia Climate Action Strategy to bring together leaders to share stories, align and build power rooted in radical vision, and identify models and solutions that can transform our climate reality.”
Drawing on the rich traditions of the global southern movement, the Southern Movement Assembly, and partners at Project South, Taproot Earth practiced a process called the People’s Movement Assembly to build relationships, cultivate solutions, create community-driven policies, practice collective decision-making, and develop strategies. In partnership with the Climate and Community Project, findings from the People’s Movement Assemblies were translated into concrete ideas, policies, and strategies to advance climate justice at the state, local, and national levels.
“This project united the power of frontline movements and researchers committed to a collective goal– building a climate-safe and restorative economy in the Gulf to Appalachia. Too often, policy is designed faraway from the communities it affects,” said Johanna Bozuwa, Executive Director at the Climate and Community Project, “The #WeChooseNow process flipped the script and cultivated a powerful model for building solutions from the frontlines. Not only is the policy developed out of this process more reflective of the vision and needs of communities on the ground, the process itself built alignment and power across regions to ultimately win the change.”
Virtual and in-person gatherings held over the course of a year developed a collective analysis of key pillars of work across the Gulf to Appalachian region, focusing on democracy, energy, labor, and economy. The solutions developed out of the People’s Movement Assembly are visionary, and the ultimate playbook created designs short- and medium-term policies that build power toward that ultimate vision.
“I am so thankful for #WeChooseNow because together, we have power,” said Marsha Jackson, Executive Director of Southern Sector Rising. “If you have never personally experienced climate and environmental justice, you cannot fully understand what we are going through. We are on the front lines. #WeChooseNow to speak up, to make our experiences known, because our stories are important, and we will not stop. In this larger movement work, there are so many people I have never met before, who are going through the same, and the message when we come together and see each other’s faces is that we are not alone. You can feel the power of it, the charged energy created that motivates me, knowing that there are many other people with me. This fight is for all of us.”
Taproot Earth is an international organization that emerged as an anchor for climate justice in June 2022 after seventeen years of building power and advancing frontline solutions across the Gulf South as the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy. https://taproot.earth/
The Climate and Community Project is a progressive climate policy think tank developing cutting-edge research at the climate and inequality nexus. climateandcommunity.org