Black Chamber: Minority, Low-Income Households Hurt by EPA Regulations

“Because of the intersection of climate change and all these issues that we face every day, whether it's education issues, criminal justice issues, it impacts everything because the environment impacts everything,” Jacqueline Patterson, the director of NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Programs at the time, told the Earth Island Journal.

“We really had to kind of reframe it so that in the hearts and minds of communities it actually resonated as something that we were interdependent on in terms of the environment and working to preserve it.”

However, Alford said the EPA Clean Power Plan would force blacks, Hispanics and other minorities to choose between paying for housing, food, or their power bills.

“Inability to pay energy bills is second only to inability to pay rent as the leading cause of homelessness,” he said.

The National Black Chamber of Commerce study released June 10 showed the EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” would inflict “severe and disproportionate economic burdens” on poor families, especially minorities. In particular, the study claimed, the rule will impose the most harm on residents of seven states with the highest concentrations of blacks and Hispanics.

“The EPA’s carbon dioxide regulation is a slap in the face to poor and minority families,” said Alford. “These communities already suffer from higher unemployment and poverty rates compared to the rest of the country, yet EPA’s regressive energy tax threatens to push minorities and low-income Americans even further into poverty.”

Alford said the National Black Chamber of Commerce study showed the EPA’s rule would increase black poverty by 23 percent and Hispanic poverty by 26 percent. That would mean in 2035 African-American communities would lose 7 million jobs and close to 12 million jobs would be lost by Hispanics.

Household income for blacks would fall by $455 under the Clean Power Plan and $515 for Hispanics, according to the NBCC study. It also showed seven states with the highest concentrations of blacks and Hispanics would be hurt the most: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, and Texas.

“The study estimates that restructuring America's energy grid, which the EPA's rule will require, will lead to $565 billion in higher annual electricity costs by 2030, when the regulation will be fully implemented,” Alford wrote in an Investors Business Daily op-ed.

“With blacks and Hispanics spending a larger share of their income on energy than whites, the burden of higher costs will fall hardest on minorities. We will be hurt again through job losses, as businesses take steps to mitigate the damage of higher overhead,” he added.

Push is coming to shove for all sides in the EPA Clean Power Plan debate. The agency’s timetable calls for approval of a final plan by “mid-summer of 2015.” The EPA would then begin the regulatory process for approval a federal plan.