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Co-op America Announces 2008 Winners of Building Economic Alternatives Award
Coal River Mountain Wind Project, Dr. Bullard Recognized as Leaders in Environmental Justice
September 3 , 2008
Washington, DC -- The Coal River Mountain Project and Dr. Robert Bullard are the 2008 recipients of the Building Economic Alternatives (BEA) award. This is the 19th year this award has been given to those who exemplify the socially responsible activities closest to the heart of Co-op America’s goals of advancing social justice and environmental sustainability.
The Co-op America Award is given to an organization, individual, or business whose outstanding work deals with issues covered by the previous year’s Co-op America Quarterly, a national magazine with over 75,000 subscribers. The Coal River Mountain Wind Project is receiving the organizational award in recognition of its work to protect Coal River Mountain in southern West Virginia from destructive mining by building a wind farm in the location. Dr. Robert Bullard is an individual recipient of the 2008 BEA award for his lifetime of work as the “father” of the environmental justice movement.
The Coal River Wind Project is working to stop damage to mountain ecosystems and communities by promoting a solution to preserve Coal River Mountain. Massey Energy holds four strip-mine permits to destroy the face of the mountain and is awaiting permission to fill in creek beds with the resulting debris. The type of mining they would use, mountain-top removal mining (MTR), involves clearcutting forest, exposing the tops of Appalachian mountains, then using explosives to blow off layers of rock and mine for exposed coal, dumping waste rock in adjacent valleys. Already, over 470 Appalachian mountains have been destroyed through this type of mining.
The Coal River Mountain Wind Project has presented an analysis from Wind Logistics showing that a wind farm would instead provide clean energy and permanent jobs for nearby communities, in addition to preserving the landscape and important ecological systems. Individuals and institutions can support building wind farms over mountain top removal mining by going to http://www.coalriverwind.org/.
“The proposed wind project will create jobs for the community while also preserving the environment,” says Yochi Zakai, coordinator of Coop America’s corporate responsibility programs. “This campaign is a perfect match with Co-op America’s mission of harnessing economic power for a better world.”
Dr. Bullard began documenting environmental injustice in the 1970s, when his sociological research on the situating of garbage dumps in Houston’s black neighborhoods revealed systematic patterns of injustice. The book he wrote about that work, Dumping in Dixie, is recognized as the first to fully articulate the idea of environmental justice. Since then, Bullard has been one of the leading voices of environmental justice advocacy. He was one of the planners of the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 1991, and helped the Clinton administration write an executive order that required all federal agencies to consider environmental justice.
Last January, with testimony from Dr. Bullard and a postcard campaign by Co-op America members, House and Senate bills were introduced that would strengthen the federal infrastructure addressing environmental justice (S. 2549, H.R. 5132). Bullard will continue fighting for these bills to become law in the next Congressional session.
“I am deeply honored to receive this award on behalf of the millions of individuals and families who are struggling all the time to achieve a healthy environment where they live, work, play, worship, and attend school,” said Dr. Bullard, who is the director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Georgia’s Clark Atlanta University. “No community should become the dumping grounds for other people’s garbage or toxic waste. No matter what socioeconomic status or color, all Americans have a right to equal protection of our environmental laws.”
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