Deep-seated racial justice issues have been brought to the fore in recent weeks by a series of nationwide protests over police violence. These protests are taking place in the midst of a global pandemic, which has exposed, and in many cases exacerbated, longstanding issues of racial inequality.

The energy and climate space is not immune to racial discrimination. But some politicians have questioned whether this is the right moment to talk about issues such as pollution, calling it a misplaced political move.

Mustafa Santiago Ali has been on the front lines of the fight for environmental justice since he was a teenager and throughout his 24 years at the EPA. Now, as vice president of environmental justice, climate and community revitalization for the National Wildlife Federation, Ali says he’s hopeful this historic moment will accelerate equitable energy solutions.

On this episode of Political Climate, Ali connects the dots between the clean air, affordable energy and the racial justice movement. We also discuss the implications of recent environmental rollbacks by the Trump administration and take a hard look at how the clean energy industry can promote greater diversity. 

Plus, we discuss Republican approaches to combating inequality, based on comments made by Representatives John Shimkus (R-Illinois) and David McKinley (R-West Virginia) at this week’s House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on frontline communities, at which Ali testified.

Recommended reading:

  • The Hill: Trump's Latest Environmental Rollback Threatens Minority Communities, Experts Warn
  • Politico: California Lawmakers Rebuke Top Regulator Who Invoked 'I Can't Breathe' in Air Quality Fight
  • HuffPost: Solar Power Has a Diversity Problem
  • GTM: ‘We Too Must Improve’: Clean Energy Industry Looks Into Mirror on Racial Inequity
  • Political Climate: Fighting Energy Injustice and Coronavirus in African American Communities

Political Climate is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. Listen and subscribe on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle Play or wherever you get podcasts.