Tuesday’s REAL State of the Union brought together neighbors representing different communities to discuss the connections between a suite of issues such as energy, climate, federal spending, jobs, racial justice, and environmental justice as east Georgia is ground zero of the environmental impacts of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy expansion.
The panel, moderated by Amelia Shenstone of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, was chocked full of great insight, information, and passion. Panelists Michelle Walker from Dunbar Elementary School, John R. Seydel from City of Atlanta’s Office of Resilience, and Chandra Farley from Partnership for Southern Equity’s Just Energy Circle discussed contradictions in theCity of Atlanta. It is seemingly progressive in its decisions about its future, as evidenced by the 2017 passage of two resolutions committing to renewable energy by 2025 and 2035 respectively. But at the same time, it also displays serious racial divides, as seen during the 2017 mayoral election, as well as policies that hurt poor people, homeless, black communities, and more. Panelists discussed what this contradiction says about historical oppression in our state and how it manifests today. In response, they discussed racial inequity connecting with energy and the environment; how can Atlanta lead the way in the state of Georgia in a just energy transition; and how to break cycles of oppression so we can create liberatory policies.
The panelists agreed that there is a need to learn more about where our tax dollars are going, such as $700 billion slated to go to the Pentagon under President Trump’s FY2019 federal budget. They shared success stories about affected communities speaking up for themselves and managing public resources, and talked about how we can all show up for each other and support measures that lessen Georgians vulnerability to climate change.