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Coastal Desk

Activists Call On Legislators To Support A Green New Deal For The Gulf South

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Michael Esealuka, Healthy Gulf
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Organizers with Gulf South for a Green New Deal rallied at the capitol Friday. They tell WWNO that about 30 were in attendance.

Advocates rallied at the State Capitol on Friday to demand a Green New Deal for the Gulf South. It’s part of a regional effort that includes hundreds of environmental and social justice advocacy groups across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Florida.

The rally comes on the heels of President Joe Biden’s release of an ambitious $2 trillion infrastructure plan last week, which includes creating a civilian conservation corps and funding for environmental justice. But organizers with Gulf South for Green New Deal say more needs to be done for southern workers.

“Southern people want and need climate action now!,” said Grace Treffinger, an organizer with Gulf South for a Green New Deal. “We deserve to be a part of that process and we deserve to determine our future.”

Organizers are calling on state and local lawmakers to take action. They want to see investments in renewable energy, job training, and a faster transition away from fossil fuels. They want their legislators to commit to addressing the climate crisis while supporting living wages and sustainable jobs.

Leo Linder, a former oil worker who worked on Deepwater Horizon, spoke on the capitol steps Friday morning, calling climate change an existential problem.

“We’re all here today because we’re facing a kind of insanity...we’re facing devastation,” said Linder.

He painted a picture in which the rich and privileged escape the worst impacts of climate change, while the low-income and marginalized feel the impacts worst.

“The rest of us ordinary people, we’re stuck on this one little blue planet that we’re poisoning for profit, and that's why we need a Green New Deal,” Linder said.

“We’re trying to lift up the demands for a Green New Deal and say that it has to be people-focused,” said Michael Esealuka, a community organizer with Healthy Gulf, based in New Orleans. “We have to have transformative change in our economy and in our government, and we have to center the needs of the most-impacted.”

Organizers said the protests are part of a weekend-long event during which they plan to unveil murals and host virtual events.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and local listeners.

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