Who will protect the air we breathe and water we drink? The resistance.


April 18, 2017

This piece was originally published by The Huffington Post on April 17.

More and more Americans are coming to the conclusion that climate change is no myth at a time when the Trump administration is intent on ignoring reality and appeasing corporate interests. Some environmental leaders are responding by formulating a lowest common denominator strategy on climate, like revenue neutral approaches, hoping to magically create a middle ground by bowing to the altar of limited government. Fortunately, an inclusive, inter-sectional and organic resistance is rising. This spring, throughout a week of powerful demonstrations from Earth Day to May Day, this resistance will blossom.

OneAmerica is a multi-issue immigrant rights organization that calls Washington state – aka the Center of the Resistance – home. Our communities are as harmed in the short term by ICE raids and unconstitutional travel bans as they are in the long term by gutted environmental regulations. To fight these destructive and unpopular attacks, we need everyone, but more importantly, we need to follow the leadership of those most impacted by these regulatory rollbacks and programmatic cuts.

People across the country overwhelmingly support action on climate and investment in renewable energy sources, and believe immigrants make the United States a better place to live. In partnership with our allies among labor, environmental, faith, and progressive business groups, OneAmerica has worked with other organizations led by people of color to build a statewide movement for action on climate change that puts our communities and other front line communities first.

Our communities, to quote environmental justice advocate Majora Carter, are the canaries in the coal mine: We have already begun to experience climate disruption by virtue of where we live and work, and we have always been on the front lines of pollution. Farm worker communities in Eastern Washington have worked through several severely hot summers, under threat of wildfires and job loss due to drought. In the Puget Sound region, some of the zip codes with the lowest life expectancy and highest pollution burdens are home to large and growing Latino and Asian Pacific American communities.

Our movement has come together around the conviction that a well-crafted climate policy must actively seek to close that climate gap, the disproportionate and unequal impact of the climate crisis has on people of color and poor people. We demand climate action that addresses historic injustices by pricing pollution and investing in solutions that improve economic and environmental conditions in front line communities. Our policy, developed in partnership with mainstream environmental groups, labor unions, public health organizations and other stakeholders, represents some of the best of what a unified national resistance could create: Comprehensive, equitable action against the biggest existential threat of our generation: climate change.

That’s why on Saturday, April 22nd, we will support an inclusive March for Science that embraces research-based policies to address climate change. We will push our allies in the movement to use racial equity in their analyses by identifying disparate impacts of pollution and climate disruption and designing remedies that improve conditions for the most overburdened first. The People’s Climate Movement takes to the streets on Saturday, April 29th, shedding light on the intertwined destinies of clean energy and employment in the United States and around the world. Finally, on May Day, OneAmerica will join partner organizations in championing immigrant and workers’ rights in Seattle and Yakima, in solidarity with mobilizations across the country. We will march to demand inter-sectional immigrant rights: The right to freedom from hate crimes and harassment; the right to living wages and safe working conditions; the right to love whomever we choose; the right to keep families together; and the right to a clean and healthy environment.

These are the inextricable demands of a resistance as powerful as it is diverse, and as strong as it is resilient. Our hope rests not in convincing the willfully ignorant to change their ways, but in the coming together of broad-based people’s movements prepared to act to take back the initiative, moving from resistance to power.

Rich Stolz is the executive director of OneAmerica.

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