A Commitment to Climate Justice: Celebrating Juneteenth

A Commitment to Climate Justice: Celebrating Juneteenth

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

This is the order issued by Union Major General Granger on June 19th, 1865 — ending the enslavement of African Americans in Galveston, Texas two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Since then, Juneteenth (a combination of “June” and “nineteenth”) has been widely observed, commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and broadly celebrating Black American culture. In 1980, Texas became the first state to formally recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. In 2021, President Biden formally consecrated Juneteenth as a federal holiday, stating that “on Juneteenth, we recommit ourselves to the work of equity, equality, and justice.  And we celebrate the centuries of struggle, courage, and hope that have brought us to this time of progress and possibility.”

Today, at the Department of Energy (DOE), in an era marked by a clear need for climate action and social justice, we champion this progress and possibility through President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative.

To address the intersection of climate change and inequity, Justice40 directs 40% of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments to flow to underserved and overburdened communities. This ensures that a clean energy future is shared by all Americans, particularly those from communities who have been adversely harmed by the impacts of climate change.

In July 2022, the DOE announced 146 programs to support the Justice40 Initiative, promoting clean energy and energy efficiency, affordable and sustainable housing, clean transit, training and workforce development, remediation and reduction of legacy pollution, and the development of critical clean water and wastewater infrastructure.

Our approach to climate justice also involves active listening and discussion with the communities we aim to serve. The DOE Energy Justice to the People Roadshow is a series of workshops and community listening sessions to convene industry leaders, local governments, and community stakeholders, and share available funding opportunities and advance U.S. energy security in a just and equitable way.

Last week, Secretary Granholm visited Port Arthur, TX, an historically Black and underserved port town only two hours northeast of Galveston.

As part of the Energy Justice to the People Roadshow, Secretary Jennifer Granholm and the Director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, Shalanda Baker, met with community members to learn more about the challenges they face as a frontline community located near a major industrial facility.

“I’m the daughter and the granddaughter and the great granddaughter of this place, and if I am that person, I’m also a daughter and granddaughter and the great granddaughter of sacrifice zones,” Baker said, referring to the higher rates of cancer, lung and heart disease, and other harmful health impacts communities like Port Arthur face. Together with community members, they discussed the resources from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda that could help the city — such as technologies to remove emissions from the environment — and ways to integrate clean energy like solar or wind power. Mayor Pro Tem Donald Frank, Sr. presented Secretary Granholm and Director Baker keys to the city, proclaiming June 13 as Energy Justice Day.

This Juneteenth, as we commemorate the liberation of African Americans from slavery, we must also remember that a century and a half later, our work is far from done. Juneteenth serves as a celebration and a reminder of why advancing climate justice is an integral part of our work at the Department of Energy today and every day.

Originally published at https://www.energy.gov/articles/commitment-climate-justice-celebrating-juneteenth

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