NAACP Official: Environment is a Civil Rights Issue

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The NAACP says minority communities are disproportionately hurt by the effects of climate change. Jacqueline Patterson is the group’s environmental policy director.

She says 68 percent of African Americans live near coal-fired power plants and are therefore more likely exposed to carbon emissions. That figure, quoted in studies by several environmental advocates and the American Lung Association, is said to be based on a review of 1990 and 2000 Census data.

“We tie all of this to our civil and human rights agenda in terms of people’s rights to clean air and clean water, safe living conditions, the right to work, freedom from discrimination in terms of access to public goods," Patterson said. "All of these are impacted by both climate change and disproportionate exposure to environmental impact.”

Patterson, who was in Columbus Friday to discuss the NAACP’s view on climate change, says the answer to this civil rights issue is to aggressively shift away from fossil fuels dependence.

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