Blog Archives - Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Celebrating Black History Month: Advocating for Environmental Justice in Black Communities

Written by Kyle Bryant, Chesapeake Conservation and Climate Corps Intern

Black History Month is a time to celebrate the rich heritage and monumental contributions of African Americans; at the same time, it also serves as a reminder that America’s struggle toward true equality is far from over. In every facet of our lives, the effects of racial injustice play a role, and that includes environmental sustainability. 

Maryland LCV and Maryland LCV Education Fund are committed to addressing the environmental injustices disproportionately impacting Black communities within our state. This month, we not only celebrate the rich heritage and monumental contributions of African Americans, but also amplify the pressing need for equitable environmental policies.

The Legacy of Environmental Injustice

For decades, particularly since the mid-20th century, Black communities have been on the front lines of environmental injustice. In the Baltimore metropolitan area alone, a myriad of environmental issues exist that disproportionately affect the Black population. In Baltimore City, Black children are often exposed to lead paint, resulting in lead poisoning which causes permanent neurological damage during their cognitive development. Coal dust from Curtis Bay’s CSX Transportation coal export terminal has infiltrated residential neighborhoods, increasing the potential for asthma and other respiratory diseases. The Road to Nowhere, an unfinished expressway for which Black neighborhoods were razed, is only just starting to be addressed, with proposals to demolish it and repurpose the area for the benefit of the impacted communities. 

Across Maryland, many Black communities face similar challenges. This is not coincidental but rooted in systemic racism and historical policies that have marginalized Black Americans, confining many to areas with poor environmental conditions and creating many health disparities. 

The Call for Action

Addressing these profound challenges requires more than acknowledgment; it demands action. Maryland LCV advocates for legislation that not only tackles environmental degradation but does so with a lens of racial and social justice. We work with communities, elected leaders, and government agencies to ensure Maryland is implementing policies aimed at reducing emissions, ensuring clean water, and transitioning to renewable energy sources, all of which also account for and address the historical and ongoing inequities faced by Black communities.

Recent policies enacted with the intent of creating a more equitable future include both legislation in Maryland and administrative action from the White House. Maryland’s Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 sets ambitious goals for reducing our state’s greenhouse gas emissions. This act also specifically codified the terms “overburdened” and  “underserved” into law for the first time, providing a metric by which to discern which communities are most in need of help, and supporting future policies and actions that prioritize these communities. In addition, the Biden Administration is implementing the Justice40 Initiative, an Executive Order President Biden issued mere days into his term, to address long-standing environmental injustices and promote equitable climate action. The cornerstone of this initiative is the commitment that 40% of the overall benefits from federal investments in climate, clean energy, and infrastructure will go to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution. This includes investments in clean energy, energy efficiency, clean transit, affordable and sustainable housing, training and workforce development, and more. 

Your Voice Matters

Achieving environmental justice requires the engagement of all sectors of society. It’s about dismantling the structures perpetuating inequality and building a sustainable future where everyone, regardless of race, has the right to a healthy environment. Maryland LCV Education Fund is committed to this mission, working alongside community leaders, advocates, and policymakers, to drive meaningful change. 

As we reflect on the importance of environmental justice during Black History Month, it’s crucial to remember that change begins with us—through our actions, big and small. Here’s how you can make a difference:

  • Volunteer with Local Environmental Justice Initiatives: Across Maryland, numerous organizations are working tirelessly to address environmental injustices and improve the health of our communities. By volunteering your time, you can help these initiatives achieve their goals while also gaining a deeper understanding of the issues at hand. Here’s a few places in Maryland:
  • Support Black-Led Environmental Groups: Amplify the efforts of Black-led organizations that are at the forefront of the fight for environmental justice. These groups bring invaluable perspectives and solutions to the table. Consider donating, volunteering, or simply spreading the word about their work. A few we work with are:
    • Follow: Black Girls Vote. Founded by Nykidra “Nyki” Robinson, Black Girls Vote seeks to bring change through advocacy, outreach, and building strength in numbers.
    • Follow: Black Legislative Caucus and their 2024 legislative priorities The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, Inc. is an American political organization composed of African Americans elected to the Maryland General Assembly. 
  • Educate Yourself and Others: Knowledge is power. Educate yourself about the history and ongoing challenges of environmental injustice in Black communities. Then, share what you’ve learned with friends, family, and through social media. Awareness is the first step toward change. Here’s some resources to start:

These are only a few ways in which you can contribute to the fight for environmental justice. By advocating for equitable environmental legislation and amplifying the voices of those who have been historically marginalized, we can pave the way for a more just and sustainable world. 

2024-02-19T11:10:44-05:00February 19th, 2024|Categories: Blog, DEIJ|Tags: , |

Virtual Webinar: Democracy and Election Protection on 2/16 at Noon

Friday Digest

Virtual Friday Digest
Topic: Democracy and Election Protection
Friday, February 16, 2024 12:00 PM –  12:30 PM ET

As the election draws closer, there is increasing conversation about election security and the importance of every vote. Maryland is one of the smallest states in the country, however, this year’s election will have national significance. How do Maryland elections work, how do they affect environmental and conservation policies, and how do we fit in the national story?

During this webinar, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from Maryland LCV Education Fund on:

  • Understanding the importance of voter protection laws and the connection to environmental and conservation priorities
  • Learn about the status of current legislation and what comes next
  • Hear insights from our guest speakers involved in this issue, discussing the impacts for our communities, the legislative process, challenges, and the path forward.
  • Discover what the next steps are for democracy protection and how you can get involved.

Zoom details will be provided following your registration.

REGISTER HERE!

 

2024-02-14T12:36:18-05:00February 14th, 2024|Categories: Blog, MDLCV|

Employment Opportunity: Development Manager (Hybrid)

Maryland LCV Team Members

Development Manager (Hybrid)

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) and the Maryland LCV Education Fund, two environmental state-wide, nonpartisan, nonprofit  organizations, are seeking a fundraiser to join our team as the Development Manager.

The Development Manager will be primarily responsible for managing and growing the new donor and mid-level giving program which is focused on raising funds from individual donors giving up to $5,000 annually and securing corporate sponsorships and donations of the same amount. The position will design and manage a giving program for current donors and prospects via a multi-faceted approach to donor relationship-building that includes emails, phone calls, meetings, events, and direct mail.

Full description

2024-02-14T12:37:27-05:00February 14th, 2024|Categories: Blog, MDLCV|

Supporting Environmental Justice: Federal Initiatives and Opportunities for Maryland

By Rianne Nickerson

In July, Vice President Kamala Harris visited Coppin State University in Baltimore to announce a $20 billion competition to advance a clean energy financing network, with the aim to substantially reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions nationwide. She spoke of underserved communities, a term that holds weight in Maryland having been defined and enshrined into law in the Climate Solutions Now Act. At the federal level, the Biden-Harris administration has taken action to prioritize environmental justice and create opportunities, directing funding and resources to those communities long burdened by environmental inequities. New policies are being adopted and grant programs are emerging to address injustice and put us on a path to a clean energy transition that is inclusive and equitable.

Under the Justice40 Initiative and the Inflation Reduction Act, the Federal Government and federal agencies have created several grant opportunities that local governments, organizations, communities, and tribes can take advantage of to create Environmental Justice programs or initiatives that help overburdened, underserved, and disadvantaged communities. The Environmental Protection Agency has created the Climate and Environmental Justice Block Grants to provide $3 billion in competitive, 3-year grants to states, tribes, municipalities, and community-based nonprofit organizations for financial and technical assistance to address clean air and climate pollution in disadvantaged communities.

The EPA has also created the Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking Program. This program is a competition to select Grantmakers to reduce the barriers to the federal grant application process that communities face and to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the awards process for environmental justice grants. Alongside the Grantmaking Program, the EPA has created the Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers Program. This program establishes technical assistance centers providing technical assistance, training, and related support to communities with environmental justice concerns. These technical assistance centers will ensure that deserving projects receive funding and project outcomes are successful for local communities.

These initiatives by federal entities are an important step in the fight for environmental justice. By understanding what options are available, Maryland’s local governments and community organizations can use these programs to directly address climate and pollution challenges, benefiting communities across the state. To that end, Maryland LCV Education Fund met with state and local government officials in August alongside the Maryland Association of Counties annual conference to share this packet of information about these environmental justice grant opportunities and how they fit into the efforts to map and understand environmental justice needs in Maryland: check it out here.

2024-02-14T11:34:27-05:00October 20th, 2023|Categories: Blog, Education Fund, MDLCV|

Community Solar Webinar: Recording Available

Discover how Community Solar can open the door for everyone to reap the benefits of solar energy, even those who can’t install panels on their rooftops!

This webinar covered:

  1. What Community Solar is and how it works
  2. Various types of Community Solar projects
  3. Benefits you can expect as a consumer
  4. The sign-up process
  5. The future landscape of Community Solar

Community Solar is like a shared garden, where instead of sowing seeds and harvesting crops, you receive a portion of electricity from a local solar farm. This opportunity allows you to power your home with renewable energy and cut your electricity bill by 5-30%. And the best part? There are no solar panels required on your property, no costs for joining or canceling, and your utility company remains the same.

This is an excellent opportunity for the 75% of Maryland households that can’t accommodate rooftop solar due to a variety of constraints. Watch the webinar to learn how you can get involved in community solar programs right here in Maryland. Together, we can harness the power of the sun for a brighter, cleaner, and more sustainable future!

For more information and to see Community Solar providers near you, go to www.marylandconservation.org/community-solar

2023-09-07T11:34:29-04:00August 9th, 2023|Categories: Blog, Education Fund, MDLCV|

Chispa Maryland Celebrates its First Promotores Graduates from Baltimore City and Baltimore County

2023 Promotores Graduates

In late June, Maryland LCV Education Fund’s Chispa Maryland program celebrated its first-ever class of grassroots leaders, or promotores, from Baltimore County and Baltimore City. The 18 graduates are now trained to work with their community to promote key environmental issues, including advocating for clean, electric school buses that protect the health of their children and the air we all breathe.

Since beginning its promotores training program in 2016, Chispa Maryland has graduated 143 grassroot community leaders. The recently graduated promotores from Baltimore City and Baltimore County attended six weeks of classes with Morena Zelaya, the organizing manager for Chispa Maryland, and Eliseo Magos Gonzalez, Chispa’s community organizer. Their weekly sessions focused on the basics of climate justice, civic engagement, advocacy, and community organizing. 

“Our lessons were really about our rights,” said Morena. “Our right to clean air, clean water, and a safe climate for us and our children. And now these incredible volunteers have the tools to advocate for the environmental rights that are so important to our communities.”

Morena and Eliseo will continue to work with the promotores to create comités (committees) in both Baltimore County and Baltimore City to facilitate their long-term organizing and broader community participation.

“It is so inspiring to see the enthusiasm and leadership displayed by these new promotores,” said Eliseo. “And it’s wonderful to know that we’re not just training 18 promotores, but also helping create a new generation of Latino community advocates who will work for climate justice.”  

If you would like to support the Chispa Maryland program and help train grassroots leaders throughout our state, please donate at https://www.marylandconservation.org/donate

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About Maryland League of Conservation Voters:
We use political action and education to fight for clean water, healthy air, and climate resilient communities for everyone in Maryland. Our programs strengthen and build the power of the environmental community, and they expand, deepen, and activate a base of conservation-minded voters around the state.

About Chispa Maryland of Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund:
Chispa Maryland is a key program of Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund that works to ensure Maryland Latino families and community leaders are a powerful voice in protecting our air, land, water, public health, and communities. 

 

2023-07-03T16:18:07-04:00July 3rd, 2023|Categories: Blog, CHISPA, Education Fund|Tags: |