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Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life
Jobs and justice are two key areas where Biden can focus attention to push transformative climate action. DisobeyArt / Getty Images

By Steve Trent

Joe Biden's election is a huge positive in a year that has been extremely difficult across the globe. I speak for a vast number of people who watched anxiously from outside the United States when I heartily thank those who mobilized, campaigned and voted to make it happen. Your hard work affects us all.

But we're not at the end of the line. Far from it.

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Smoke covers the skies over downtown Portland, Oregon, on Sept. 9, 2020. Diego Diaz / Icon Sportswire

By Isabella Garcia

September in Portland, Oregon, usually brings a slight chill to the air and an orange tinge to the leaves. This year, it brought smoke so thick it burned your throat and made your eyes strain to see more than 20 feet in front of you.

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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.

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On September 4, 2019, a tree house with solar collectors has been rebuilt by the residents in the Hambach forest. Roland Weihrauch / picture alliance / Getty Images

By Jeannette Cwienk

Shubham Mani Tripathi, newspaper reporter, India: shot dead in June 2020 for exposing illegal sand mining. Maria Efigenia Vasquez Astudillo, radio reporter, Colombia: struck and killed by a projectile in October 2017 while covering clashes between the Indigenous community and local police. Joseph Oduha, journalist, South Sudan: fled the country in 2019 after imprisonment and torture for uncovering environmental destruction by international oil companies.

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Phil Roeder / CC BY 2.0

By John R. Platt

Well, that was interesting … and hair-raising. At press time the harrowing presidential race of 2020 remains too close to call, as do a few key congressional and Senate seats. The Senate may not even settle out until January, when Georgia will hold runoff elections and we'll find out which party controls that house of government.

But while we wait — patiently or otherwise — for those votes to be tallied, let's take a moment to step back and look at several big-picture environmental takeaways from the election season.

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Protesters representing various socio-economic groups rally against climate change on September 20, 2020 in New York City. John Lamparski / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Kenny Stancil

Amid the Global Week of Action for Debt Cancellation and one month ahead of the Finance in Common Summit, climate justice advocates on Monday urged public banks around the world to treat government responses to the coronavirus crisis as opportunities to coordinate just recoveries from the ongoing public health and economic calamities and to simultaneously facilitate just transitions from dirty to clean energy, thereby beginning to "build the world we want."

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Alexis Cureton, California state lead of clean energy and equity at NRDC. Alexis Cureton

By Rasheena Fountain

The topic of energy rarely came up during Alexis Cureton's childhood, split between Tulsa, Oklahoma, Duluth, Georgia, and Indianapolis. Nevertheless, Cureton can still recall his mother's reminders to turn off the lights and not to overuse the dishwasher. Those pleas gave him an awareness of the scarcity, necessity, and costs of energy—heightened during those cold-weather stretches when his family's finances did not allow them to pay the electric bill. Along the way, two questions formed in his head: "How is energy helping to create comfort and, in its absence, how am I uncomfortable?" Today, these questions shape Cureton's lens at NRDC, where he advocates for California's low-income communities of color to be at the energy decision-making table and for their access to clean energy.

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A factory in Newark, N.J. emits smoke in the shadow of NYC on January 18, 2018. Kena Betancur / VIEWpress / Corbis / Getty Images

By Sharon Zhang

Back in March, when the pandemic had just planted its roots in the U.S., President Donald Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do something devastating: The agency was to indefinitely and cruelly suspend environmental rule enforcement. The EPA complied, and for just under half a year, it provided over 3,000 waivers that granted facilities clemency from state-level environmental rule compliance.

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Colette Pichon Battle, attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy. Colette Pichon Battle

By Karen L. Smith-Janssen

Colette Pichon Battle gave a December 2019 TEDWomen Talk on the stark realities of climate change displacement, and people took notice. The video racked up a million views in about two weeks. The attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) advocates for climate justice in communities of color. Confronted with evidence showing how her own South Louisiana coastal home of Bayou Liberty will be lost to flooding in coming years, the 2019 Obama Fellow dedicates herself to helping others still reeling from the impacts of Katrina face the heavy toll that climate change has taken—and will take—on their lives and homelands. Her work focuses on strengthening multiracial coalitions, advocating for federal, state, and local disaster mitigation measures, and redirecting resources toward Black communities across the Gulf South.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks at the Nixon Library on Sept. 3, 2020. Richard Nixon Foundation / YouTube

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (EPA) Andrew Wheeler gave a speech Thursday where he accused Democratic efforts to stop the climate crisis as actions that have hurt poor and vulnerable communities. He also laid out a vision for a second Trump term, saying it would bring a new wave of deregulation and support for economic development, according to Reuters.

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Protesters marching in Bushwick on June 13 holding a Pipelines Threaten Black Lives banner. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Ambika Chawla

As a child growing up in Los Angeles, Erynn Castellanos would spend hours exploring her grandmother's backyard garden, an oasis of greenery filled with oranges, sugarcane, yerba buena, guava and herbs.

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Gina Luster, 42, and her daughter Kennedy Luster, 8, stand at a now-defunct water fountain in downtown Flint, Michigan on October 11, 2016. Brittany Greeson / For The Washington Post / Getty Images

The state of Michigan has reached a settlement with the victims of the Flint water crisis. Michigan agreed to pay $600 million, which will primarily benefit the city's children since they were most affected by the lead-tainted water, The Washington Post reported.

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A quality engineer examines new solar panels in a factory. alvarez / Getty Images

Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.

For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.

"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."

To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.

"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."

So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.