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The Fair Climate Connection 
July 21, 2011

We use this newsletter as a means to communicate news, best practices and upcoming opportunities related to fair climate solutions.
Have any field strategies, stories, events or successes you'd like to share in an upcoming issue of this newsletter? Email FairClimateProject@nwf.org so we can feature you!
In this issue...
Kissing Cousins vs. Coal: Mining Industry Lawyers Clarify Comments on Inbreeding and Birth Defects in WV
White House Recognizes "IDEAS" as "CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE"
EPA Takes a First Step to Protect America's Waters
Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment
Congress Votes for Much-Needed Reforms to National Flood Insurance Program
Leadership Training Opportunity from the Institute for Conservation Leadership
Funding Opportunities

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About Us

The goal of NWF's Fair Climate Project is to build and engage a national network of leaders representing underserved communities to advance equitable and just solutions to climate change. We work to forge connections between community leaders and decision makers to jumpstart local projects and national initiatives that promote green communities, clean energy, and green jobs.

Clean air, clean water and abundant wildlife sustain Americans from all walks of life. We all have a shared responsibility to protect these resources for our children's future.  At NWF, we are working to bring together diverse voices to affect decisions that will create safe and healthy communities for all.

Follow-up Links
Kissing Cousins vs. Coal: Mining Industry Lawyers Clarify Comments on Inbreeding and Birth Defects in West Virginia
by Mekell Mikell , NWF Communications Specialist

Folks living near mountaintop removal mining operations may be at greater risk for birth defects according to a new study by West Virginia University (WVU) researchers. According to co-author Michael Hendryx, Ph.D.:

Research related to infants has found that mothers residing in coal mining areas are more likely to have a low birth weight infant. This study extends that research, showing that mountaintop mining areas are associated with elevated levels of birth defect prevalence rates.

Mining industry lawyers attacked the findings, noting the study failed to account for consanguinity, which is just a really long word for inbreeding. Interestingly, the online rebuttal by attorneys from Crowell & Moring mysteriously disappeared, but you can read it here. After the Charleston Gazette questioned the law firm about the missing post, a spokeswoman for the organization tried to dig them out of a hole.

Read more here .


mtp removal 7.21.2011 newsletter
A mountaintop removal site in West Virginia. (Photo credit: Vivian Stockman)
White House Recognizes "IDEAS" as "CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE"
by Chris Castro, National Director of IDEAS and Fair Climate Network Leader
Keep a look out for IDEAS on the WhiteHouse.gov homepage coming soon!

The environmental group IDEAS (Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions ), which is profiled in the Orlando Weekly April 28 issue, continues to garner attention for its format-busting work at the University of Central Florida.

Last month, Hewlett Packard and the non-profit dosomething.org announced that the University of Central Florida was one of five winners of the nationwide "Green Your School" challenge. From the release:

During the 10-week campaign, which ended on Earth Day, youth from more than 2,500 schools representing over 200,000 youth leaders nationwide led ecofriendly projects, including...[the] University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL), whose students created an "environmental educational shack"; created a video about the effects of carbon emissions; hosted a beach clean up; used power-point presentations and music to talk with aftercare students at Lake George Elemmentary about Energy.

What isn't said is that those students were all members of IDEAS, which has pioneered a scientifically-minded, hands-on model of environmental organizing that has spread outwards from UCF to nearly a dozen other campuses across the nation. Regrettably, this writer did not get to mention the group's winning entry in Habitat For Humanity's 2011 "Shack-a-Thon" in the original profile of the group, but it's definitely worth a look.

IDEAS co-founder Chris Castro says that the $1,000 winnings may be directed towards research into harnessing "piezoelectricity," or electricity generated from pressure. He also said that since IDEAS' appearance in the Weekly, former commissioner Linda Stewart has requested that the group sit on a subcommittee of the county's Environmental Streamlining Task Force.

Later that month, the Florida Wildlife Federation will name IDEAS the "conservation organization of the year." "We're really beginning to pick up the momentum for this movement. It's inspiring to see everyone working together to build a better future," Castro says.


EPA Takes a First Step to Protect America's Waters
by Caroline Wick, NWF's National Restoration and Water Resources Project Coordinator
38 years after the Clean Water Act, our waters are still in rough shape

On April 27th, the EPA released draft guidelines, which, if enacted, could restore Clean Water Act protections for millions of wetland acres and tens of thousands of stream miles.  For nearly a decade, many of America's waters have been vulnerable to pollution and destruction.  The Supreme Court issued two decisions in the early 2000s that left EPA staff wondering whether waters that had been protected for nearly 30 years were still covered by the Clean Water Act.  The EPA's recent guidelines could restore protections to many waters that were covered until the Supreme Court's decisions.  

These waters are important not just for wildlife (check out this post about river otters), they also feed into drinking water sources for one in three Americans.  Wetlands and small streams play a crucial role in maintaining and cleansing our drinking water supply; in fact, scientists refer to them as nature's workhorses.  Water moves through these waterbodies slowly, allowing pollutants to settle out.  And, one acre of wetlands stores more than one million gallons of water, which comes in handy during both floods and drought.  To see if your drinking water is fed by these essential waters, check out this EPA website .

Act now! To tell EPA that you support restoring Clean Water Act protections, visit the NWF Action page .


Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment
A report by the Brookings Institution

The "green" or "clean" or low-carbon economy-defined as the sector of the economy that produces goods and services with an environmental benefit-remains at once a compelling aspiration and an enigma.
1.27.2011 Green the block
Young people rally for green jobs.

As a matter of aspiration, no swath of the economy has been more widely celebrated as a source of economic renewal and potential job creation. Yet, the clean economy remains an enigma: hard to assess. Not only do "green" or "clean" activities and jobs related to environmental aims pervade all sectors of the U.S. economy; they also remain tricky to define and isolate-and count.

Seeking to help address these problems, the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings worked with Battelle's Technology Partnership Practice to develop, analyze, and comment on a detailed database of establishment-level employment statistics pertaining to a sensibly defined assemblage of clean economy industries in the United States and its metropolitan areas.

Here are some of their findings:
  1. The clean economy, which employs some 2.7 million workers, encompasses a significant number of jobs in establishments spread across a diverse group of industries.
  2. The clean economy grew more slowly in aggregate than the national economy between 2003 and 2010, but newer "cleantech" segments produced explosive job gains and the clean economy outperformed the nation during the recession.
  3. The clean economy is manufacturing and export intensive.
  4. The clean economy offers more opportunities and better pay for low- and middle-skilled workers than the national economy as a whole.
  5. Among regions, the South has the largest number of clean economy jobs though the West has the largest share relative to its population.
  6. Most of the country's clean economy jobs and recent growth concentrate within the largest metropolitan areas.
  7. The clean economy permeates all of the nation's metropolitan areas, but it manifests itself in varied configurations.
  8. Strong industry clusters boost metros' growth performance in the clean economy.


Read the full report and recommendations here  



Congress Votes for Much-Needed Reforms to National Flood Insurance Program
by Mekell Mikell , NWF Communications Specialist

The National Wildlife Federation supports this positive step as a means to better protect people, property and the environment from flooding
With hurricane season well underway and the remnants of severe floods still troubling many river communities in the country's midsection, it is difficult to ignore the risks out-of-control waters pose to all Americans.  Recently, the House of Representatives voted to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), advancing measures that will better protect people, property and the environment. H.R. 1309, the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011, removes incentives for risky developments in flood prone and environmentally sensitive areas, applies market-based rates to flood insurance to further mitigate risk and provides technical and financial assistance to help lessen damage and protect natural features.

"Reforming the NFIP is certainly a step in the right direction. It will help put the program on firmer financial footing, and it will better protect people by using the best science to map flood zones," said Joshua Saks, senior legislative representative for water resources campaigns at the National Wildlife Federation. "However, additional reforms are needed to make sure the program is fiscally and environmentally sound. Healthy wetlands and floodplains are the best flood protection money can buy. The NFIP needs to recognize the value of these natural defenses and create incentives for better land use planning and the mitigation of flood risks."

The National Wildlife Federation supports reforms to the NFIP that will remove federal subsidies that encourage development of environmentally sensitive areas and better protect nature by ensuring flood maps take into account natural features, changes in weather, sea level and altered hydrology.

With climate change causing more intense storms, sea level rise and flooding all across the country, this reform measure could not be timelier. We look forward to working with the House, Senate and Administration to see a comprehensive reform bill signed into law this year.

Leadership Training Opportunity from the Institute for Conservation Leadership

Discover your unique capacity to lead in the Institute for Conservation Leadership's Leading from Within program.  This five-month program offers workshops, a 360 degree leadership assessment, coaching, and peer learning. 
  • By the end of Leading from Within participants will:
  • Know their leadership strengths and how to use them,
  • Have a greater impact as a leader in one-on-one, group, and organizational settings,
  • Choose actions strategically from a place of centeredness, rather than reactivity,
  • Develop a toolbox of skills for effective leadership in a variety of situations, and
  • Address current leadership challenges that they are facing.
There may be grant funding to cover the cost of tuition for eligible leaders in the Philadelphia area, Great Lakes, and Mississippi River. There is a free preview webinar scheduled for June 28 at 1 pm EST.  For more information, including workshop dates and an application please visit www.leadingfromwithin.org or contact ICL's Peter Lane at peter@icl.org.


Funding Opportunities