Op-ed: Community benefits agreement should be part of any clean energy project

https://ift.tt/30HJSw4

Roy Williams Jr.

Ten years ago, the Faith Coalition for the Common Good (FCCG), with the support of Senator Dick Durbin and local governmental officials, successfully implemented a community benefits agreement (CBA) for the Springfield Railroad Project. The proposed rail project was designed to further divide the east side minority community from the rest of Springfield.

With the input of those impacted by the project, FCCG created an intentional and detailed CBA with seven key points stating that the project would provide jobs and job training opportunities for minorities and women; green space; safety and noise considerations; an ombudsperson to assist displaced families with quality, affordable housing; and the creation of a Springfield Railroad Oversight Commission. All seven elements of our CBA were implemented. Because of our CBA, 25% minority workforce hours were realized in Phase I of the construction project when the federal guideline only required 4.5%.

More:Massive clean energy bill becomes law, investing billions in renewable, nuclear sectors

I am writing about our experience with community benefits agreements because a CBA can also be utilized for other projects, such as in addressing the climate and equity needs presented in the Build Back Better Act.

To ensure that federal incentives and resources benefit low income and environmental justice communities, funding must be provided to develop community benefits agreements which include:

  •  Impacted persons at the center of the planning and decision-making process – Advisory councils don’t count.
  • Grassroots efforts and individual relationships are utilized to garner wide-scale and expansive legislative support
  • Intentional, written goals which include Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and low-income communities in a written implementation plan.
  • Specific dollar amounts are included in the plan detailing funding sources – grants, federal/state budgeted amounts, etc.
  • Supportive resources (such as our rail ombudsperson) be included in the plan to assist BPOC and low-income communities in navigating the legal and governmental systems so they can successfully access needed funding and services.

I am calling on Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth to support equitable clean energy incentives and their inclusion in the Build Back Better Act. Community benefits agreements should be part of any funding mechanism that rewards projects in low-income and environmental justice communities through the reconciliation bill.

Democracy requires participation. Let’s come together as a community to protect our environment, health and safety. Community benefits agreements make this possible.

Roy Williams Jr. is president of the Faith Coalition for the Common Good.

via The State Journal-Register

October 22, 2021 at 09:11AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s