Plenary Sessions

Tuesday Plenary: Environmental Justice and Equity in the Face of Climate Change

Beverly Wright, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice

Tuesday, July 17 | 4:30pm-5:45pm

The Environmental Justice movement grew out of community activism and advocacy for better standards for protecting the health of people of color and low income communities. Although there were existing laws and regulations designed to protect human health, these protections were not afforded to all communities equally. Minority communities were left to languish in the shadow of industrial facilities inundated with toxic chemical pollution. It was their struggle for justice and equal protection under the law that; (1) changed the culture of an agency; (2) shifted a research paradigm with the creation of a new approach and methodology that embraced community involvement (Community Based Participatory Research); (3) motivated the development of citizen science as a credible discipline; and (4) produced science that was more protective of communities. This presentation will review this transformation and analyze its impact on vulnerable communities.

Thursday Plenary: Imagining an equitable and just transition to a clean energy future for Kansans

Dorothy Barnett, Climate + Energy Project

Thursday, July 19 | 4:30pm-5:45pm

Thrust into the national spotlight, Kansas utilized a coal plant compromise to advance a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that required state-regulated utility companies to invest in renewable energy. In one decade, Kansas renewable energy growth created more than $10 billion dollars in capital investment, creating jobs and economic revitalization in rural communities. At the same time federal environmental regulations required utilities to clean up aging coal plants, leading to less pollution. While these efforts ultimately led to Kansas becoming a leader in wind power development, there has been a price to pay. Read more...

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