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Letters | Not invited but attended working group meeting

Letters | Not invited but attended working group meeting

On Aug. 25, I joined a group of frontline environmental and social organizations to attend the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization.

Many of our groups were not invited, even though the meeting was focused on accessing federal funding for coal-impacted communities and economic transition for the Four Corners region.

Economic transition that is just and equitable is a campaign and movement that we dedicate ourselves to in our communities in the Four Corners region.

Though many of our frontline organizations were not invited, those of us who found out about it attended anyway. Thankfully we were allowed into the meeting room and were able to listen in on the meeting that began with an agenda full of scheduled comments from state, federal and tribal officials and industry representatives.

Later there was some discussion of economic diversification, but the day lacked a real discussion of solutions and economic diversification that wasn’t dependent on fossil fuels and that truly took into account community wellbeing.

Hearing these government and industry representatives speak about harmful hydrogen, nuclear, and carbon sequestration as the economic solution for the Four Corners region was beyond disappointing.

Only one coal-impacted community representative was included on the agenda, and she was the only voice who spoke about the need for a diversified economy that was not based on fossil fuels.

Later in the afternoon, I was one of four community voices in support of renewable energy, solar energy storage, sustainable farming, and smarter uses of our water as ways to diversify our economy and create a livable future.

At the end of the day, the IWG lacked real solutions that would address community health concerns and elevate a vision of a just and equitable transition.

So many critical and local voices were missing, and as a result, the kickoff meeting lacked substance.

The economic transition of the Four Corners region must tackle historical issues of inequity and environmental injustice. These cannot be absent, if we are to create real solutions for the region and our collective communities.

Robyn Jackson
Interim Executive Director
Diné C.A.R.E.
Wheatfields, Ariz.


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