Guest columnist Amanda Woodrum is a Senior Fellow at Policy Matters Ohio.
The United States is on the brink of a major energy, economic, and environmental transformation. In Northeast Ohio, there’s a great opportunity to be at the center of it all.
For too long, companies like FirstEnergy have used their influence to rig the rules and profit from polluting the air while many of us, especially blacks and browns, have become sicker. We have seen it sicken people in resource-poor areas prone to it. live.
On the other hand, there are too many jobs in the region that do not earn enough to support a family or adequately reflect the diversity of the community.
But a series of federal laws enacted over the past year will help address these issues and make our communities a place where people of all backgrounds can thrive.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the Reducing Inflation Act, and the CHIPs Act (the bills that make up the Federal Climate Infrastructure Package) dedicate significant federal resources towards:
• Modernize the electricity grid to get rid of the ubiquitous big brown poles with black wires
• Upgrade your transportation system to include electric cars and buses, freight and passenger railroads, and safe walking or bicycle paths.
• Rehabilitation of damaged land through brownfield restoration, afforestation and wetland restoration.
• Expanding clean and efficient manufacturing to produce future sustainable products such as electric vehicles and bio-alternatives for single-use plastics.
Emissions from Ohio’s aging power grid system, cars and trucks, and factories account for the majority of the state’s contribution to climate change. Proactive strategies to clean up how electricity is produced, how people and goods move, and how things are manufactured will help our region become carbon neutral.
In addition, expanding and restoring “natural infrastructure” such as urban green spaces and tree canopies can absorb air pollution that negatively impacts the climate.
But what makes the federal climate package truly transformative is the Biden administration’s Good Jobs initiative, which incorporates community, environmental, and labor standards into the way federal climate resources are awarded.
For example, the Department of Energy requires applicants to include community benefit plans in their project proposals.
The most effective community benefit agreements with project developers include wages to sustain families, paid on-the-job and pre-apprenticeships, and access to employment and public transportation for workers from areas with high poverty rates. It is targeted.
We need state and local leadership to secure these federal resources for our communities. To develop a project proposal, a variety of stakeholders, including local government officials, trade union leaders, black and brown communities bearing the brunt of environmental pollution and job discrimination, and environmental groups, were involved. must be collected.
Policy Matters Ohio was recently thrilled to learn that the Cleveland City Council was already considering developing community welfare policies that could give the city an edge in the race for federal funding. Other local governments should consider doing the same.
Another competitive advantage for the Cleveland area is the greenhouse gas assessment for the area by the Northeast Ohio Regional Coordinating Agency (NOACA), a major urban planning organization that includes Cuyahoga, Guega, Lake, Lorain, and Medina counties. This is a data collection effort for
This is the first major step in developing a comprehensive regional climate action plan. Next, agencies need input from the broader community on how to strategically reduce greenhouse gases.
Community members and local officials should be involved with NOACA as it develops local climate action plans. Together, we can ensure that inclusiveness, participate in a lively dialogue with our communities, and incorporate and ultimately implement ideas to transform our communities into the mix.
Readers are invited to submit opinion page essays on topics of local or general interest. Please send your 500 word essay to Ann Norman. email@example.comThe essay should include a brief biography of the author and a headshot. Essays refuting today’s topic are also welcome.