Breaking Green

Environmental Injustice and The Inflation Recovery Act with Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright

August 19, 2022 Global Justice Ecology Project / Host Steve Taylor Season 2 Episode 7
Breaking Green
Environmental Injustice and The Inflation Recovery Act with Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The inflation Reduction Act is being heralded by many environmental groups as a major victory in the fight against global warming.

But the bill has provoked criticism that it funds harmful false solutions and that environmental justice organizations, communities that they represent, and their concerns were ignored as the $360 billion deal was made.

In this episode of Breaking green, we will talk with Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright. Anthony publicly resigned from the board of Evergreen Action, a group whose stated mission is to build an all out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

In his notice of resignation, Anthony noted Evergreen Action's failure to properly involve or communicate with environmental justice communities during critical phases of creating and passing the Inflation Reduction Act. He says that those left out of the process by the bigger, largely white driven environmental groups are those that will be most directly impacted by the fossil fuel false solutions increased mining and other extractive provisions contained in the bill.

Anthony serves as the Director of Environmental Justice for the group New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. He also served as the policy coordinator and Green New Deal policy lead at the Climate Justice Alliance. Anthony also led the effort to make the former Colorado Health Insurance Cooperative, the first health insurance provider in the state's history to remove transgender exclusions in 2012. He worked as a policy advisor for Senator Elizabeth Warren's presidential campaign in 2020, as well as Senator Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns of 2016 and 2020. He also serves on the board of directors of France, the Earth, the Backbone Campaign, and the Center for Sustainable Economy.

This podcast is produced by Global Justice Ecology Project.

Breaking Green is made possible by donations from people like you. 

Please help us lift up the voices of those working to protect forests, defend human rights and expose false solutions.  Simply click here to send a donation or text GIVE to 1 716 257 4187.


Indigenous Environmental Network statement on IRA

Climate Justice Alliance Statement on IRA

Anthony  Kerefa Rogers-Wright's recent article in Black Agenda Report

Antony Kerefa Rogers-Wright's original notice of resignation.

1990 Southwest Organizing Project Letter

Equitable & Just National Climate Platform

Steve Taylor  0:00  
Welcome to breaking green, a podcast by global justice ecology project. On breaking green, we will talk with activists and experts to examine the intertwined issues of social, ecological and economic injustice. We will also explore some of the more outrageous proposals to address climate and environmental crises that are falsely being sold as green. I am your host, Steve Taylor, a bill recently signed by President Joe Biden. The inflation Reduction Act is being heralded by many environmental groups as a major victory in the fight against global warming. But the bill has provoked criticism that it funds harmful false solutions and that environmental justice organizations, communities that they represent, and their concerns were ignored as the $360 billion deal was made. In this episode of Breaking green, we will talk with Anthony Kerefa Rogers- Wright, Anthony publicly resigned from the board of evergreen action, a group whose stated mission is to build an all out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis. In his notice of resignation, Anthony noted evergreen actions failure to properly involve or communicate with environmental justice communities during critical phases of creating and passing the inflation Reduction Act. He says that those left out of the process by the bigger, largely white- driven environmental groups are those that will be most directly impacted by the fossil fuel fall solutions increased mining and other extractive provisions contained in the bill. Anthony serves as the Director of Environmental Justice for the group New York lawyers for the public interest. He also served as the policy coordinator and green New Deal policy lead at the Climate Justice Alliance. Anthony also led the effort to make the former Colorado Health Insurance cooperative, the first health insurance provider in the state's history to remove transgender exclusions in 2012. He worked as a policy advisor for Senator Elizabeth Warren's presidential campaign in 2020, as well as Senator Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns of 2016 and 2020. He also serves on the board of directors of France, the Earth, the backbone campaign, and the Center for sustainable economy. Anthony Carissa Rogers, right. Welcome to breaking green.

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright  2:25  
Thank you so much for having me. It's really great to be with you.

Steve Taylor  2:27  
The inflation reduction act at the time of this recording was signed yesterday by President Joe Biden. It is being celebrated by many environmental groups as a win in the fight against climate change. One of those groups is evergreen action. But days after Congress passed the bill, and before the President signed it, you wrote what is in essence an open letter about your decision to resign from Evergreen actions board. What is evergreen action? And why did you resign from its board? And what does it have to do with the inflation Reduction Act?

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright  3:08  
Well, no, I really appreciate that question. Evergreen action is about a little more than two years old. They were formed from the the aftermath of the Jay Inslee Governor Jay Inslee, but then, candidate for president Jay Inslee, formed by many of his advisers, who are who I would say, are very smart people, dedicated people, and formed evergreen action to continue the development of climate policy, and also ensuring that the Congress, the Senate, and the President, were implementing environmental policies that would increase climate justice, and get us on track with, you know, the goals of the Paris COP 21 agreement. That was back in 2015. And so that's, you know, that's, that's basically why they were formed. You know, it is it is a history of what many referred to as a historically white led  organization. I do think that they did well to assemble a talented, you know, board Advisory Board of Directors, finally, including myself, but but many others who I still, you know, love and cherish and respect. I think that, unfortunately, as it pertained to the inflation Reduction Act. You know, it's not just, you know, what's in the bill itself. It's the process that led  to the bill. A nd we saw, I saw continuation, I should say, of what many in the environmental justice, movement and climate justice movement have been speaking about for years since, you know, way back in 1990. When Richard Moore, who of course now is one of the co chairs of the President's White House Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, helped penned a letter to the so called group of 10 included groups like EDF and NRDC, Sierra Club, and others, you know, really pressing them and saying, hey, the way that you're operating, you know, is actually in a very racist fashion. You know, it's very paternalistic, it's very top down, you are really taking in all of the resources, like 2% of the groups are controlling 98% of the wealth 98% of the groups are expected to control 2% of the wealth. And this is preventing us from being an actual movement. This is preventing us from getting the type of policies that we need to not just protect, you know, parks, and recreation for affluent white people, but the public health literally, of black, brown, indigenous and poor white and Asian people as well. The way that the inflation Reduction Act went down, and the way I believe evergreen acted along with one of their advisors, Dr. Stokes was antithetical to the principles of environmental justice and antithetical to the 1996 principles for democratic organizing, despite lots of commitments from Evergreen and groups. I would argue it's not just evergreen, a lot of groups, you know, especially in the wake of the racial awakening, or, you know, part time or ephemeral racial reckoning, we'll call it in the United States, following the lynchings of George Floyd and Breonna, Taylor and Ahmaud, Arbery and others, you know, there are a lot of commitments that were made, there are a lot of public statements or a lot of proclamations that, quite frankly, were not exercised. You know, they were not lived up to, based on the reactions of, you know, as I said, very prematurely, rhapsodic press statements that literally, you know, would say, yeah, we know, there are some bad things, but. You know, and by saying, but you're actually promoting the sacrifice of communities that have that are already bearing the brunt disproportionate brunt of the climate crisis, they had little hand in creating. And these are communities in the Gulf South of Mexico, poor black people, poor white people, poor white people in Appalachia, and then throughout so called Indian country, and I just, you know, I could not allow myself to be associated with that. As I said, in my resignation letter, I'm on other boards of directors. And the way that they operated was just so much differently. They were not rushing to release a press statement to promote themselves, really, you know, what they were rushing to do was to make sure that they spoke with people in the EJ community, before releasing a press statement, so they can release an informed press statement. And that's, you know, one of those organizations that I sit on the board of, is Friends of the Earth, we went through a really rigorous process before releasing a statement. And our president, Erich Pica, you know, was adamant about that. And so just that juxtaposition made that decision to, for me to step down from Evergreen, you know, all the easier. I would add that, in that 1990 letter that I referenced, Friends of the Earth was actually one of the organizations that was included in that letter. And I so I know it's possible to improve, because they have, and they've demonstrated that, and, unfortunately, other organizations, including evergreen have not, which just goes to show you, in my opinion, that it's not so much about the how, as much as it is about the will to actually exercise the how

Steve Taylor  8:23  
Well there were a lot of groups, and there are a lot of groups that just, you know, are heralding the achievements, as you say rhapsodic about what they perceive as the achievements in this bill. And I think this there's there's two issues that really jumped out at me with with your letter. One was not wanting, I think you referenced tokenism. And I think you you definitely referenced the process, but also what what is in the bill, and you mentioned frontline communities or communities that going to bear the brunt. So, um, let's talk a little bit about what's in the bill.

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright  9:01  
Yeah, I mean, first and foremost, I mean, we have what I call the fossil fuel quid pro quo clause, which is essentially saying that there can be no approval of renewable energy projects, including offshore wind, and on large scale, onshore solar, until there are offshore oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico, of 60 million acres a year for the next 10 years. So I mean, right there, you know, to me, that disqualifies the inflation reduction act from reading refer to as a climate bill. The idea you know, you know, where I do a lot of my work is in New York State and New York City. We have, you know, massive aspirations for more offshore wind right. You know, our governor Hochule announced $500 million to be invested in offshore wind and the New York Bight which is, you know, just off the coast of Long Island, and so ipso facto, in order for us to continue to press for more offshore wind and onshore solo or solar, we have to like kind of root for there to be more offshore oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico. And that's not that's not how we roll in New York, right? That's not how environmental justice and climate justice practitioners roll in New York. We don't, you know, sacrifice another community, you know, for the betterment of our community that that just like, you know, that that can't happen. That's not climate justice. And we know a lot of the people who live, you know, full time in the Gulf. You know, I'm probably in New Orleans, at least eight to 10 times a year visiting friends and family. And, you know, I'm not going to sell them out. So that, you know, we can have renewable energy in New York. So you know, that first and foremost, I think, you know, disqualified it. We also have tons of tax breaks and investments in profligate and unproven what we refer to as false solutions, like so called carbon capture and sequestration. We got to talk about this so called technology, because it's simply doesn't work. You know, it's like the cold fusion for for the fossil fuel industry. Even President Trump's Department of Energy concluded that carbon capture sequestration was not economically viable. And I believe at this point, all of the carbon capture projects that were once put online by the federal government are offline, they're not working, they're not even working anymore. Some got pulled because they were too expensive. Some broke down all together, you know, we saw in Yazoo County, Mississippi, which is a majority black community, a carbon dioxide pipeline associated with a carbon capture plant exploded. When the EMTs got to the site, they described it as a zombie seen people passed out in their cars, you know, with his green plume, like over the community. So it's so it's very, very dangerous. And we've already given so much money to carbon capture and sequestration as part of the bipartisan infrastructure framework that the President signed earlier this year. So we are doubling tripling and quadrupling down on a technology, which the majority of so called captured carbon is utilized for is a process called Enhanced Oil Recovery, which we may as well refer to it as what it really is, it's fracking, right, that's using carbon dioxide to extract more oil and gas which, which leads to more emissions. So that's another disqualifier, in my opinion, of referring to the inflation reduction act as a piece of climate policy that it's you know, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, referring to this bill, as climate policy would be like referring to Joe Arpaio as a abolitionist prison abolition is because he had outdoor jail cells, you know. I mean, it's just unheard of, to me. We also have an expansion of the lifeline for nuclear power plants. This like, of course, produces more waste, that is, you know, most of the time situated on indigenous sovereign indigenous territories in the southwest. And of course, this would lead to more uranium mining. Everyone talks about the Flint water crisis, as we should but least discussed, is the water crisis that the Dene Tribe in Arizona has been facing for years having to have water as shipped in because their water supplies have been tainted by uranium mining. And then, you know, on the subject of mining, there is more mining that is opened up for critical minerals, for solar panels for wind turbines, and that puts that may be necessary. But that was those these decisions were made without the free prior and informed consent of indigenous people. And again, like we're not in the business as environmental justice practitioners of selling out and sacrificing one population so that another population can enjoy, you know, comfort and have a clean air and cool homes and warm homes at the expense of other people. It's that is that is not climate justice. You know, that is antithetical to climate justice. And those are just a few of the provisions. The last thing I'll say, is that there are provisions in the inflation Reduction Act that already are going to have a negative effect on long standing environmental laws like the National Environmental Policy Act. It also ostensibly says we are investing a billion dollars to improve NEPA. But again, from whose vantage point, beauty and improvement are in the eye of the beholder. In this case, it's an improvement for the fossil fuel industry and polluters, because that billion dollars is specifically dedicated to a specific type of environmental review called programmatic environmental reviews, which are not a specific they're very broad cover large swaths of geography to allow for networks of, say pipelines in the fossil fuel variety or carbon dioxide pipelines associated with carbon capture and sequestration. So what what we have here is a formula for for climate catastrophe. So when people say like, you know, this is the biggest deal, it's climate history, I say it's more of a climate mystery, because it's a mystery to me that people can refer to this as a climate bill. And that goes for liberals as well as progressives. And it's really, why I'm appreciative to you for having me on your show. Because what we have right now is a very nefarious narrative, that this is a good thing that they're all these investments, you know, they $60 billion in environmental justice investments. My dear sister and friend Tara Houska, frontline indigenous warrior, and attorney was on Amy Goodman show a democracy now she said. You know, first of all, we're not saying that they add up to 60 billion dollars. Right, first of all, like some some, some groups are using the tax credits for electric vehicles, and referring to that as an environmental justice investment. But if you look at the industry, and what it says it says, our consumers for electric vehicles are typically white men between the ages of 40 and 55, who earn over $100,000 a year and have a college degree or higher. I maybe I'm missing something, I don't think that that really is a typical environmental justice demographic. But I could be wrong. And then, you know Tara's other point was, and what's the point of these investments of all we're going to be doing is using them to prevent the harms that this act, what would be unleashing and proliferating via all the things I just named, and especially all of that oil and gas, drilling, and leasing. So that's, that's just a snapshot of what's in the bill we're at the more we read, the more sort of like, fine print we're finding out right? There's $75 million, for instance, that is supposedly dedicated to the tribe. So it's 75 million, a whopping $75 million for over 500 federally recognized tribes whose lands were stolen, whose women are going missing and murdered because of fossil fuel projects. Here's $75 million for y'all ought to split up. That that is that is insulting. And here's the kicker, though, what makes it more insulting is that prior to any of that money, even getting to the tribes, it has to have prior and written approval by the President of the United States. And I, whether the Democrat or Republican, I have not seen too many presidents rushing to ensure that we hold uphold the treaties that we've made with the original people of the so called present day United States. And let's say it's not a President Biden, let's say to President Trump, or President DeSantis, they're not going to be like signing this money over in an equitable way to federally recognized tribes. So again, we have nefarious narratives, we have narratives that I don't think it was voracious as, as they should be. And it's something that we really have to get a hold of, because narratives can can impact people, just like fossil fuel pipelines can and that, like, you know, it's all rooted in a lack of truth, right? We know that these fossil fuel companies have been lying since the 1970s, when they knew what their products were doing to the atmosphere. And we know that the narratives that they've been peddling have had impacts on frontline communities for years as well

Steve Taylor  18:19  
This is your host, Steve Taylor, and we will be back right after this.

Theresa Church  18:26  
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Steve Taylor  19:23  
Welcome back to breaking green. So let's talk a little bit about the process that you were concerned about. You You definitely mentioned a consultant I believe Dr. Stokes. And I'm not saying that she was the figure. Let's not let's not demonize Dr. Stokes. You seem you seem to mention   her and her work and how that seemed to be a disconnect between the mission the stated mission of Evergreen Action and what was actually happening, I guess, in the negotiations or in this process of coming up with a response to climate change, which is becoming ever and ever more critical. It's a crisis. You know, I'm sure you agree, we're in a crisis situation, in large part because the industry that that's now allowed such access or has such access to the deals have have been have been dissembling and distracting about this for decades. So, what about the process did you find disturbing when it came to the aspects of environmental justice and representation of communities are those who would actually call out these false solutions?

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright  20:41  
You know, I mean, again, environmental justice groups that are not as resourced or funded, or don't have as many staffers, as the so called mainstream environmental groups are literally like on page 20, page 30. You know, and and all of these statements are coming out not just from Evergreen groups like Sierra Club, you know, NRDC, EDF, this is a historic, this is the greatest thing that's ever happened. And look at all the great stuff for environmental justice. It seems like they were in the know. And before these under resource groups were. Commitments have been made in the past of like, okay, we're not going to take a position on a bill until, you know, we have been a, it's been demonstrated to us that the environmental justice community has had an opportunity to weigh in an opportunity to review. And and if they're, you know, in some cases, list and catalogue their concerns, there have been commitments to we're going to follow the Jemez principles for democratic organizing, which includes commitments to self transformation commitments and bottom up organizing commitments to letting people speak for themselves. And all of these commitments were broken. As it pertains to Dr. Stokes, in many cases on shows, TV shows and other mediums that she has been on to promote this bill, she has been referred to as an architect of the bill and she has not taken umbrage with that sobriquet. So, you know, I'm assuming and that, therefore, you embrace that, that, that moniker, and which, which, which would indicate you knew something. There are some reports saying, um, it was an hour or two, that some groups were made privy to what was coming out, okay. Like, yeah, yeah, that means you also had two hours to aware, you know, base building organizations like the Climate Justice, Alliance, global global black grassroots justice, you know, groups like We Act. I mean, in some cases, y'all are working in formation with some of these organizations, right. There's the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform. We act as a member of that. So was Center for American Progress. So was evergreen, so was League of Conservation Voters, so was Sierra Club, so you're not even sharing information with people that you're in coalition with? What kind of coalition is that? You know, FDR, Stalin, and Churchill shared information with each other more than some of these big greens are with their so called environmental justice partners. And that's what I that's what you know, when it comes down to this idea of tokenization. If you're just going to create, like a coalition with an environmental justice groups, for cosmetic reasons, that's just that that is wrong and is immoral and must be exposed. And, and, and, you know, it has to cease. Because you can't just use the names of organizations and the faces of the people who make up those organizations, and then say, therefore, we are practicing environmental justice. Environmental justice is not a rhetorical or cosmetic exercise. It's an exercise of processes, right? It's an exercise of, of synergy of collaboration, you know, of transparency. And that's not what happened in this case. And again, I mean, all these groups, after they had learned, like, look like maybe there are some good things in this bill, but the way that you're celebrating it is still harmful to us. It is so so please be more conscious about your public statements. Do not just sort of say yeah, we're so sorry about the poor, black, brown and white nation people. But you know, I'm gonna get myself a Tesla. You know, like, like that's, that's that's just really disingenuous, and and it continues that sort of paternalistic top down, praxis that we have been observing from a lot of these bigger organizations, again for decades for decades. And when when there still seems to be an inability to to change how you operate, you know, the apologies have we were done hearing the apologies, right, they fall on empty ears. Now at this point, they're not mistakes anymore. They have to be referred to as what they are, which is a function of willful ignorance.

Steve Taylor  24:59  
Well, you mentioned the Jemez principles for democratic organizing. First there is inclusive. There needs to be inclusiveness. Second, emphasis on bottom up organizing. Third mentioned is let people speak for themselves. Four work together in solidarity and mutuality. Five, build just relationships among ourselves. We need to treat each other with justice and respect. Six commitment to self transformation. We must change. We must walk our talk. And you've  you mentioned in your letter I, if I remember correctly, the tendency for some organizations to appear committed to environmental justice, in part by by putting bios and pictures that might seem diverse or you know, but it's really they're not. They're not walking the talk. Who else is speaking out about this? I mean, is how widespread is this disappointment? With the inflation Reduction Act in the environmental justice community?

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright  26:14  
Yeah, I mean, so I have in the spirit of Jemez, I will let people speak for themselves. But what I will do is, I will, you know, I would refer you to statements put public facing statements put out by the Indigenous Environmental Network, who put out a beautiful statement, breaking down what all the problems with the inflation Reduction Act are and why they oppose it, just just a beautiful, beautiful statement, written by the great Jordan Harmam. She's a brilliant Policy Analyst with IEN, as well as a Tamra Gilbertson, two of the smartest people I've ever met, and who I'd love to work with for that reason. And the Climate Justice Alliance also put out a forward facing statement expressing their massive disappointments and massive concerns and their opposition to the bill as a result.

Steve Taylor  27:03  
I do I do want to read something you wrote in your letter, because I think it has a lot of punch. You said the so called inflation Reduction Act. And the process that led to its development has elucidated the undeniable fact that the climate movement and you put movement in quotes, is less less than an exercise of  social justice, and more frequently, a continuation of the white supremacy, patriarchy and colonization that formed the interlinked root causes of climate justice.

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright  27:40  
Yeah, so I mean, if we go back to one of the landmark pieces of environmental reporting 1987, toxic wastes and race that was produced by the United Church of Christ under the leadership of the great Dr. Benjamin Chavez, who of course coined the phrase environmental racism, while fighting polychlorinatedbiphenol waste  in Warren County, North Carolina majority black community, which is where some people say, this is where the environmental justice movement, you know, kind of, you know, had its beginning, right. Some people credited the Montgomery bus boycotts with the spark in engendering the Civil Rights Act. And this, this movement in Warren County, really got the environmental justice movement started. And in that report, they have a definition of racism that I always use, I mean, because I think it's  germane in 87 as is now in 2022. And it says that racism can be practiced intentionally and unintentionally as well as consciously and unconsciously and and this is this is the the the climate community, you know, to a tee. It is still very white dominated White, a fluence dominated, very, very top down, and this inflation reduction act just just prove that. I mean, the people who are, you know, given the space to showcase the narrative on this are majority white people, right, Dr. Stokes, the only Kevin Michael Mann, you know, are given like, sort of, like, all of the top spots to transmit what's in this bill and what's not in this bill. And they are largely citing the science and the data of site white scientists, right. I mean, so when we're peddling the idea of oh, this is going to result in 40% reduction, who wrote that report? You know, who who did the analysis on that report? Was it people from frontline communities? But was it indigenous people, black people, poor people? No, I would posit that it isn't. And so that's the white supremacy end of it right? The fact that it is a very white male dominated there's the patriarchy you know, end of it. And then women can can also exercise the patriarchy just like black people can exercise white supremacy to be clear. And then the colonization aspect of it is this idea that it is okay, that you are okay with the fact that the vast majority of the EJ investments quote unqoute are investments are in the form of competitive block grants. So now and I've said it before, you're forcing environmental justice communities to enter into a social justice Hunger Games situation, who are the odds, when it comes to money are usually not ever in their favor, to compete with each other, for the right to clean air, clean water in a healthy environment. That's colonization, that is literally what the colonizers did, to pit indigenous people in Africa against each other, indigenous people here in Turtle Island against each other in Asia, etc, etc. So that's what I what I meant by that. And this unconsciousness, this unconscious racism is is hurting the consciousness of what a climate community that I believe, has aspirations to actually become a movement. But it's the great Angela Davis who herself said, we have the makings of a movement. But you know, but but we're not a movement yet, because of these things that we're still doing to each other, the way that we're operating the exclusion, the ostracization the paternalism, you know, the the fact that like, you're going to give us facts about what's best for us that we did not get to peer review, we did not get to ground truth. That that that is a cut. That's that's literally what I meant by that. And I use those three terms, specifically, because the root causes of the climate crisis are white supremacy, patriarchy and colonization. We've got to get to the root causes. It's not just about the pipelines and the emissions, it's about the systems of oppression, that allow for those omissions to predominantly happen in frontline communities, for those pipelines to bifurcate sovereign indigenous territory, and who is bearing the brunt of the adverse impacts

Steve Taylor  31:41  
Moving forward is there hope that these concerns can ever be addressed, and therefore, we could have a true climate movement?

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright  31:56  
Yes, I am a big, big fan of Rebecca Solnit, one of the great Literary minds of our time. Her writings on hope, are more salient than ever, and more voracious than ever, right? Solnit says, hope is not some lotto ticket, like you know, underneath your couch cushion. It's an x right? That you've knocked Doors Down with. So in that articulation of hope, I am very, very hopeful. We have no other choice. But that hope is somewhat contingent on the consciousness, the moral consciousness and the clear consciousness of certain groups that have more access to levers of power, at least, legislatively, right and politically, being having this the will to exercise, you know, Equitable & Just National Climate Platform. I stated that before, I tried to bring it up on my computer, but if you just read some of the commitments that are made in that platform. Those are your words, you all no one put a gun to your head, it wasn't a shotgun wedding, of a marriage between environmental justice and mainstream environmental groups. You willingly signed this, you put your name on it, but then you're not following through. That is a an omission of integrity. And so that I'm very, very hopeful, but but hope needs assistance, right? Hope also needs to be given reassurance that we're going to follow through with our words that we're going to follow through with our public statements that we made in 2020. If we put Jemez principles on our website, that we're actually going to commit to not just regurgitating him as but we're exercising Jemez. These principles were not developed, people gave their lives, you know, their time, you know, their energy to to put these things together, not to see them tokenize and like I said, dangled around as ornaments, right? They are, they are to be a Jemez principle is a living document, you know, to, to to enhance a living organizing process, that that increases inclusivity. And when we have increased inclusivity, better things happen. Right? One of my teachers, great Miki Kashton says that trust is developed when people do successful things together, right? So let us do successful things together, that will increase our hope. And when our hope is increased, our resolve is increased when a resolve is increased our powers increase. And then you know, we can go do what we really have to do, which is not this inflation Reduction Act. This is not a compromise though. It's a capitulation. And as our good friend, Brett Hartl from Center for Biological Diversity said and Bernie Sanders quoted him on the Senate floor, it's a suicide pact and we have to do much, much better. So I am I am very, very hopeful. But I don't want to say but and that hope does come with with some conditions that I hope so. Okay, that I hope are met so that so that we really can become the movement that I think we have the potential to become

Steve Taylor  35:06  
And in your reasons for resigning from Evergreen Action, you say in a forthcoming piece on the harmful pernicious and iniquitous process that led to the so called IRA I offer, quote, when we have the courage and the fitness to look back on and really evaluate the IRA, it won't just be a question of what it's doing to hurt the physical environment, indigenous sovereignty and the health of indigenous Black, Brown and poor folk, it will also be a question of what this process made us do to each other, and how we can hopefully, if possible, heal and regenerate. So I look forward to reading that. Can you tell us where it may we may find that in the future?

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright  35:51  
Yes, I'm getting buzzed by said editor about it. As we speak. It will be appearing in the Black Agenda Report. website, which of course, is edited by the great Margaret Kimberly. It's her birthday, happy birthday Sister Margaret. And I believe up she means for it to drop on later today, after I take care of some edits. And and I will definitely email it to you as soon as it does go live. But I was, you know, I'm really honored that the Black Agenda Report asked for this perspective, you know, they do want more black voices, more brown and indigenous voices who are giving their take on, you know, the climate discourse and the climate polity. So, yeah, so so very, very soon after I live up to my commitments. And, you know, that's what makes it sister Kimberly, a good editor. She is very meticulous and thorough.

Steve Taylor  36:51  
Well, whenever it's ready, I you know, hopefully later today, we we would have time to put it in our show notes as well. So I also did want to ask you, you're in Colombia now with the inauguration of the new president. Tell us about that. What's going on?

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright  37:08  
Yeah, what an incredible time to be here. You know, I have the pleasure of meeting now president they Petro about three years ago in DC. We hit it off, we kept in touch. My family down here are close allies and operatives in the PCN party, which is, of course, is the party of Colombia's first Afro Colombian vice president woman of the great Francia Marquez. And as so as their guests remained here a bit longer to just have more conversations, more meetings and pitch in where I can and where I'm asked to, with getting this amazing and historic administration off and running. You know, there are a lot of aspirational aspects to their a platform for governance. And, you know, what I will say is that, this this moment in Colombia is a result of principles struggle and principled movement of Afro Colombians, Afro indigenous Colombians, white Colombians coming together, and really engaging each other in a righteous way. Literally exercising this, this right here, what I'm witnessing is the living Jemez, right? Just relationships bilateral accountability, the way that you know, even when there's conflict, the way that you know, watching them sort of like navigate that conflict. It's just a beautiful thing to see. I feel like I'm swimming in turquoise water, which I was last weekend in Cartagena, it's a definitely highly recommend people go check out got to Carteagena, a great place. And so you can still feel the excitement two days ago was the conclusion of the annual Afro Colombian festival here in Cali. And of Vice President Marquez showed up, she danced with us, you know, I mean, it was it was surreal. I was done at 430 because I was like sleeping as I was standing up and I was like I have to go. And they were like What are you doing? You know, to them it was like still midnight. You know, that the Vice President had left at like 330. You know, I mean, and I have friends who were like, where did you go? I'd like to bed and they're like, Oh, we didn't leave until 1130 You know, the next day. So there's there's just so much jubilation, and you had mentioned earlier hope you can see it in the eyes, especially of young, Afro Colombian women and young Afro Columbian girls. They see Francia, they see themselves right, I was a guest in in her home, like literally hours after she was sworn in, and you can just see her face, like what the hell am I going to do with all of this space? I grew up in a two room shack, but what is this, you know, and and remaining so humble and so available to the people in a way I have never seen in a lawmaker in my life. So and of course, both a president a Petro and Marquez our are climate justice activists, and practitioners, Petro has pretty much vowed to end oil and gas drilling here in Colombia, and really making sure that there's a lot more indigenous input when we're talking about minerals that are necessary for things like solar panels, that they they are included that they're a part of the process, as well. So and, you know, even in his inaugural speech, it was long, anyone who knows, Petro, knows that he can be a little long winded. But it was about an hour long an inaugural speech in about 15 to 20 minutes was dedicated to the climate crisis. And that to me, you know, showed me something. He had dignitaries and presidents from other South American nations on the stage next to him and looked at them and he was talking about climate change. He's like, are you going to be my partner in this like, like, we have to be partners in this. Bolsonaro wasn't there? But you know, that's a whole nother story. But but everyone out there, you know, you could see them affirming, yeah, like, you know, let's do this. Let's make Latin America, a beacon for, for what regenerative economies can look like. So just just so great. Being here, you know, got another week or so here, and then off off, and I'll be back later in the fall to continue assisting PCN and the vice president. So I'm very excited.

Steve Taylor  41:27  
I guess, you know, we were talking about hope. And I guess maybe it looks like you see a little there, you know,

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright  41:34  
 Oh, one hundred percent.

Steve Taylor  41:36  
We also are on one of our previous shows, talk to Alejandro Parra, who, Chile and talked about the new constitution that's being formed, which they are really emphasizing indigenous rights and the environment as well. So there seems to be a lot happening in the global south.

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright  41:54  
Yeah. Well, you know, they they say that these are developing nations, I say, I agree, because they are developing climate policies, and they are developing solidarity and they are developing truth, truth Commissions. They're developing. My second day here. When I got here, I was a part of a global discussion on reparations with Africans from across the world and indigenous people from from across the continent. So yeah, they're developing solutions. That's why they're developing nations.

Steve Taylor  42:21  
Well, that's always been an interesting term to me developing nations. It's like, you know, there's some sort of standard and and then when it comes to climate, maybe some of us are a little over developed, in a sense, right?

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright  42:33  
100%. I mean, you know, Nicaragua where my son and his mother spent a good portion of the year where she works. He was actually born in Nicaragua on an island called Ometepe Island, which is in the middle of the lake. And it was really interesting. I was down there when there was a bit of an uprising against the president. And there was fuel shortages. And at one point, because like you will couldn't get to the island, Ometepe. It was like for a few days entirely powered by renewable energy. Nicaragua is already close to producing half of its energy from renewable for true renewable sources, wind and solar, as where I don't even think we're at 20% Yet in the United States, if I'm not mistaken. So yeah, they're developing renewable energy. They're developing. They're developing good climate policy, and they're serious about it. I mean, I think that, you know, with everything that we're seeing in the Eastern European theater, right now, people are understanding it's probably not a good idea to be embolden to this this poison that that also engenders geopolitical conflicts and puts people in hard ways, including workers of course.

Steve Taylor  43:44  
Well, Anthony, Karefa Rogers-Wright, thank you so much for joining us at breaking green.

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright  43:50  
I really appreciate being on and hope to see you again.

Steve Taylor  43:53  
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Transcribed by

Breaking Green Introduction
Episode Introduction
Introduction to Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright
Why Anthony Resigned from Evergreen Action
What is in the IRA?
Environmental Justice Communities Left out of Process
EJ Community Response to the IRA and Jemez Principles
White Supremacy, Patriarchy, Colonization
Is there hope for a true climate movement?
Anthony's upcoming work
Innauguration of Columbia's President
Environmental Hope and Leadership In the Global South