12:00pm June 3, 2014

Florida NAACP: Elevating Energy Engagement as a Civil Rights Issue


Citing health disparities and economic opportunity as primary motivators, the Florida NAACP released a new report, Just Energy Policies: Reducing Pollution and Creating Jobs, that sets forth an agenda for increasing energy affordability and economic development opportunities for African Americans. As the report notes, “leading in a new energy economy serves as a pathway out of poor health, poverty and joblessness while establishing a foundation of energy resources and security for generations to come.”

According to Jacqui Patterson, the report’s lead author, low-income residents pay a greater share of their incomes – African Americans spend an estimated 30% of their monthly income –on energy, and African Americans are left out of energy jobs and suffer from health problems associated with energy production.  “These statistics demonstrate that not only are African-Americans not part of the decision-making for our energy choices. But we are disproportionately experiencing the harms from the energy production processes and getting a trace amount of the economic benefits from the energy sector,” says Patterson.

As noted in the report, a 2010 study from the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) found that in 2009 African Americans spent $40 billion on energy, yet only 1 percent had energy-related jobs.  Further, out of revenue of one trillion-dollars created from the energy sector, African Americas gained less than 1 percent of that revenue, even though they represent 13 percent of the population.   Consequently, Patterson says, the NAACP recommends “that we are intentional about putting in policy frameworks that will allow this bounty to be shared equitably.”

Adora Obi Nweze, President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, says that the nation’s oldest civil rights organization supports efforts that incorporate renewable sources of energy into Florida’s generation mix as it pursues greater energy equality in the state.  “While state policymakers should be applauded for their efforts to adopt policies to encourage the distribution and use of clean energy,” she says, “the state needs to be cognizant of two important concerns: lack of participation by minority, low and fixed-income communities in distributed generation and renewable energy programs, and fair and equitable distribution of electric grid maintenance costs; ensuring that all consumers contribute equally to maintaining the electric grid which ALL Floridians rely on.”

Having “established the production of energy as a clear civil rights issue,” the NAACP, along with the National Urban League and groups of African American legislators across the country, are on the cutting edge of increasing minority understanding of and participation in the energy sector.

About the Author

Jessica Washington
Is an Intern at Politic365, and a senior at Sidwell Friends School. She has studied journalism at American University. She will be attending college next year at The University of Pennsylvania majoring in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics.



Lifeline Supporters Push for Equity in Expanding Subsidy to Broadband

More than 400 comments have poured into the Federal Communications Commission over the past two months, and September 30, 2015 marked the close of the Commission’s effort to get public input on whether Lifeline should be...
by Politic365 Staff


Obama Administration Takes Historic Step Toward Solar Equality, But Much Work Remains

This article originally appeared on Huffington Post, and has been cross-posted at the author’s request. For far too long, working-class families have been left out of the solar revolution in the United States. Black elect...
by Guest Contributor

CBC Tech Twitter

Congressional Black Caucus Launches CBC TECH 2020 to Diversify Tech Sector

Today at 4:00 p.m. EST, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) will launch CBC TECH 2020, a new initiative aimed at increasing African American representation and inclusion in the tech industry.  CBC members will encourage indus...
by Politic365 Staff



#AABEPolicySummit Seeks to Increase Black Participation Energy Sector

Thirty-seven years ago, the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) was created to make sure that people of color were positioned to make meaningful inputs on a variety of energy policy issues, like the development of e...
by Kristal High


Meet Robert Kenney, Missouri’s Regulator in Chief

In our sound byte culture, where our knowledge of political leaders and policymakers tends to be limited to the “it” figure of the day, whatever personality is being the most polarizing or driving the most controver...
by Kristal High



  1. Karen Murphy

    I hope this leads to jobs and lower energy rates!

  2. […] that there are ethnic outlets that cover climate change — Colorlines, New American Media, and Politics 365 come to mind. But then there are outlets that cover it by other names, through reporting on […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>