Build Back Black
With permission from the Washington Build-Back Black Alliance, we share this letter from Paula F. Sardinas to Senator Reuven Carlyle, expressing WBBBA support for the Climate Commitment Act:
Subject: *URGENT* | #WBBBA Supports SB/5126 (CAP*HEAL*INVEST)
Thank you for being so generous with both your time and knowledge. From the moment I entered Olympia in 2016, as the only Black woman representing financial services (Credit Unions)—you extended both an open hand and an open door. I have always been able to come to you on any issue, and even when the policy matters seemed difficult, you always seem to find a way to be a strong supportive voice.
This year, after cumulatively watching so many of the events of the past 30 years—it became imperative we needed to work hard to galvanize the voices in the black community. Before COVID-19, I traveled to all 49 legislative districts meeting with both democrats and republicans. Saving lives and protecting our planet is both a human rights and civil rights issue. After hearing from young activists, climate change advocates, professional lobbyists, scientists, teachers, black sororities and fraternities, non-profits, and other civic organizations from Spokane to Bellingham, we created the Washington Build-Back Black Alliance.
Our Alliance is steeped in public policy. Our team members have over 50 years of experience in seven states, and we have worked with four U.S. Presidents. We serve on virtually every Task Force impacting economic and social justice policy in the State of Washington. Our members represent Scientists, Non-Profits, and Black-led community organizations. We believe it’s important to harness our power and support a path forward for Environmental Justice legislation that embraces racial equity and a significant investment in overburdened communities with demonstrated disproportionate effects. Our goal is to advocate for fair treatment (the principle that no group of people, including a racial, ethnic or a socioeconomic group, should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences from industrial, municipal and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local and tribal programs and policies. In implementing its programs, EPA has expanded the concept of fair treatment to include not only consideration of how burdens are distributed across all populations, but the distribution of benefits as well).
Cap, Heal, & Invest: The CHI Act
After examining both the Heal Act and Cap and Trade—the most viable path forward is Cap, Heal, and Invest. There can be no significant climate policy unless we have a commitment to cap and reduce emissions. But reducing the carbon footprint is not enough. We must create meaningful involvement giving affected community residents an appropriate opportunity to participate in any proposed public policy that will affect their environment and/or health. This is where we have embraced and accepted many components of the HEAL Act. But we know, you cannot heal, where you do not invest. Those investments must represent a significant commitment to improving the lives of marginalized people and overburdened communities.
The latest iteration of SB/5126 demonstrates the goals and policies many of us have worked hard to bring to fruition. Sen. Carlyle, my father worked at a Nuclear Power Plant in Georgia. It is that personal lived experience that has fueled my passion around climate justice. I understand first hand the harmful impacts of growing up in that environment.
On behalf of the WBBBA, we are proud to offer our strong support of SB/5126. As we have shared with President Joe Biden—you cannot build back better, if you do not BUILD-BACK BLACK. That sentiment must also ring true in Washington State. We must all be committed to policies that center racial, economic, and environmental justice. We also understand—perfect is the enemy of good. With that in mind, we’d like to see this good bill voted out of the Senate this week as we continue to work on the policy.
Thank you for your friendship and support.