Environmental Justice: Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference

It’s that time again!

blue collar green jobs

The 2014 Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference is taking place February 10-11 in Washington, D.C. at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Good Jobs, Green Jobs is the Conference where jobs and the environment meet and will feature dynamic keynote speakers, informative workshops, and opportunities to network with people from around the country making a difference in their communities tackling climate change and creating jobs.

This year’s Conference is focused on repairing the systems Americans rely on every day — to get us back and forth to work, supply our power, keep us safe from floods when storms rage, make sure we can call the police and fire during emergencies, and the institutions where our children learn.

America’s infrastructure is breaking down and we need a plan to fix it. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the systems we rely on every day a “D+” grade. Repairing these vital systems will safeguard our communities from the impacts of climate change, reduce inefficiencies and thereby the carbon pollution that drives climate change, and create quality, family-sustaining jobs for American workers. Repairing America can also repair America’s workplaces.

Join thousands of business and community leaders, union members, and environmentalists at Good Jobs, Green Jobs 2014 — February 10-11, 2014 at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. — and take up the call to Repair America.



Healthy Communities and Green Jobs

Why should we support?

As we move forward in today’s economy, it’s essential to understand what are the energy resources that are available to our community in order to make it sustainable. We also need to invest in creating jobs right here in Michigan instead of paying billions of dollars to outsource elsewhere.  If we  invest in creating more sustainable energy practices, we’ll also create more Green jobs. Our everyday consumption of energy would ultimately become the sustainable way of living and working in our communities if we support this initiative.

Michigan utilizes a broad range of traditional energy sources, most notably: coal, nuclear, and natural gas. Renewable energies consist of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass. Coal is a nonrenewable source of energy. Michigan has no active coal mining and imports most of its coal from Wyoming. There are currently 14 major coal power plants in the state.Yet, 61% of the state’s electricity comes from coal. Michigan is the 7th highest net importer of Coal in the US, spending approximately $1.4 billion on coal in 2008.

I believe that all citizens in the State of Michigan should also support 25 by 2025, so we can build healthier and more sustainable communities for our state. This means more jobs, business opportunities, and better health.


Everyone deserves access to clean air and water, right? We generally don’t consider the dangers of ignoring these human rights, until our own rights are violated and stripped away from us.

That is what is happening in Detroit, where roughly, 3,000 homes are being shut-off because of late payments of water bills. Within the last ten years, Detroiters have seen their water rates increase by almost 119%! The Detroit Water and Sewage Department is running mass water shut offs, which will distress over 120,000 account holders in an overall 3-month period. Over this time, forces beyond the residents control — including a citywide financial crisis that left 1 out of 5 residences in foreclosure and sent local unemployment rates skyrocketing — severely challenged Detroiters’ ability to pay.

Because all of the dysfunction in conjunction with severely, outdated systems with the Detroit Water and Sewage system, most Detroiters even went months without receiving a bill. This accounts for over 40% of customers who are using the Detroit water system.

Sick people have been left without running water and working toilets…People recovering from surgery cannot wash and change bandages. Children cannot bathe and parents cannot cook.” Congressman Covers

Because of lack of water…

  • Sanitation is becoming a serious concern. Without water for basic things like food preparation, cleanliness of food preparation tools and waste disposal, disease can become a threat factor in a matter of days. And, if left unchecked, disease can spread in a months time.
  • Dehydration also becomes an immediate threat to Detroit residents. A lack of access to clean and drinkable water on a scale of this size can affect residents without delay. Dehydration occurs in approximately 1-2 days, and if left untreated for a long period of time, can result in death from lack of blood circulation.
  • Without water, the threat to the health and safety of Detroit residents becomes immediate, which can then become endemic in just 60 days time. By looking at the extent of this issue (120,000 water accounts or 300,000+ people) Detroit can be considered a disaster zone, and immediate relief and preparation will be needed.

A coalition of welfare rights organizations appealed to the United Nations to have service reestablished and to prevent more shutoffs. UN officials who specialize in human rights relating to water and sanitation, adequate housing, and extreme poverty, said,

“…disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to t lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights” 

Maureen Taylor, state chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, stated during a television interview:

“What is at stake here is that there are tens of thousands of low-income families who cannot pay rising water bill costs.

At some public schools in Detroit, children in households without water are having their clothing laundered at school

“It’s just a terrible health hazard when they come to school in their dirty clothes. And the parents, you know, are afraid because if you don’t have water, they can take your kids away,” ~ Carole Watson, a Detroit school administrator.

With 40 percent of Detroiters living below the poverty line, and water rates above the national average, will Detroit continue to deny residents access to clean water, or will Detroit allow this public health emergency escalate into disaster?

When Climate Change Hits Home, The Storms Hit Hard

A few weeks ago, in Southeast Michigan, a severe hailstorm hit out of nowhere. I stared out the window as the mini chunks of ice and rain hit the ground at an alarming rate. Because of the storm, the air felt much cooler than normal for this time of year. I couldn’t help but think about other alarming effects of climate change impacts happening around the world each day.

Despite those who deny climate change, we’re already paying the costs right here in Michigan. In cities likeChicago, Milwaukee, and even  here in Detroit, families are sharing their personal stories on how they are facing the difficulties of severe storms and outdated infrastructure.

The severity of this hailstorm in Michigan, caused trees to uproot, triggered tornado warnings and even knocked out power to more than 200,000 residents across the state.

Every day, climate change is affecting more than just our pocketbooks, as our quality of life and health are challenged. Recently, the White House released a new report that says the US could face billions of dollars in added economic costs if we continue to delay in curbing the greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. The report also states that each decade of delay will make it 40 percent more expensive to target our identified global climate target.

A handful of storms, like the one in Michigan, flood homes and destroy communities. According to the EPA, these storms will contribute to 40 percent of our region’s annual rainfall. If predictions come true, the Midwest’s heaviest downpours will more than double over the next hundred years. That means more intense flooding, more disaster-related costs, and more clean-up costs for families.

Everyday I see our environment changing right before my eyes. I envision a better future for the generations after me. I believe our children deserve a cleaner planet than the one we will leave behind. So unless we begin to clean it up now, we face an unstable future. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan leads us on a path to slow global warming by cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions. This is done by placing new rules on carbon pollution from power plants. We need to support those limits now because hard-hitting hailstorms in August in Southeast Michigan are just the beginning of more severe weather.



A Pathway to Sustainability Jobs: Water Technology

Today we have great challenges before us, a recession and for some communities a depression. Women earn on the average 80% of what a man earns. And for African Americans and Latinas, as you know, the gap is even greater.  For African American women, 71 cents and Latinas, 62 cents for each dollar that a man makes.

 Many women live paycheck to paycheck as you know. Green jobs is a way that we can help women increase their income and we must make sure that all women are included as part of the recovery, including women of color, and that all women are adequately represented in the ranks of women in green jobs.

As we honor the women who have shaped our nation, we must remember that we are tasked with writing the next chapter of women’s history.This is what we’re doing here with HOPE4GREEN, helping write the next chapter in the struggle for economic opportunity and security for all women.

In this post, it will introduce water technology jobs in the Green Economy sector.  

Water Tech

Water technology is the action of using a multitude of systems to utilize the ocean and freshwater environments to harness energy. Water technologies such as hydropower are classified as renewable sources of energy.  Water technology sources of energy are restored naturally through the water cycle. Water Technology is a renewable source of energy, which is considered a clean alternative to fossil fuels because of it’s natural ability to replenish.


Hydropower is currently the most popular form of water technology in the energy sector. Installation of  hydropower systems do not require the use of fossil fuels because the force of moving power propels a turbine that generates electricity. Businesses eventually make a profit off of water technology sources because the primary cost are the construction and operation of the facilities.

Water technology jobs are

  • Record operational data, personnel attendance, or meter and gauge readings on specified forms.

  • Add chemicals such as ammonia, chlorine, or lime to disinfect and deodorize water and other liquids.

  • Clean and maintain tanks, filter beds, and other work areas using hand tools and power tools.

  • Collect and test water and sewage samples, using test equipment and color analysis standards.

  • Maintain, repair, and lubricate equipment, using hand tools and power tools.

Globally, hydropower accounts for about 19 percent of electric generation. In 2011, U.S. hydropower plants had a capacity of about 100,000 megawatts (MW) and produced 3.25 percent of the total energy and 63 percent of renewable electricity in the United States. Although most suitable sites for large scale dams have been developed in the United States and globally, there are many opportunities to install hydropower systems at existing dams currently without generation capability, and to use other water energy technologies in rivers, tidal zones and open ocean. According to two 2012 studies by the U.S. Department of Energy, existing dams that are not currently producing power could provide 12,000 MW of additional capacity, and if new installations (including those harnessing waves and tidal currents) are built, hydropower could potentially provide 15 percent of America’s electricity by 2030 (vs. 6 percent today).



Large hydropower dams on major rivers are the most developed generators of water energy. Large dams also meet multiple societal needs such as irrigation, flood control and recreation.

There are several drawbacks to reservoir plants. Studies suggest that large reservoirs in boreal and tropical climates emit as many greenhouse gases as a fossil fuel power plant. Flooded vegetation decomposes, releasing methane and carbon dioxide in a large burst at the beginning of a dam’s life and continuing in lesser amounts throughout the dam’s use. Further impacts include changes in water temperature, dissolved oxygen and other nutrients, harm to the river’s ecosystem, displacement of communities by the alteration of the river’s flow, and riverbank instability leading to deforestation, flooding, and erosion. Hydropower is vulnerable to climate change. Prolonged droughts may diminish the water level of the river, lowering electricity generation, while melting glaciers, rapid snowpack melt, or changes in precipitation patterns from snow to rain may significantly alter the river flow.


Run-of-the-river plants have no water storage facilities but may use low-level dams to increase the difference between the water intake level and the turbine. In this case, the natural river flow generates electricity and the amount of power generated fluctuates depending on the cycle of the river. Although run-of-the-river technology can be used for large scale power generation, it is commonly applied to supply individual communities with electricity, with capacities of less than 30 MW. This form of power generation is popular in rural areas of China, but has potential application in many places, including in the United States. Run-of-the-river technology typically disrupts much less of the river flow as compared to large hydropower dams.


Current generation works similarly to a wind turbine, but underwater. Because water is denser than air, water moving at a given speed will produce much more power than that generated by a comparable wind speed. However, the turbine itself must be stronger and, therefore, is more expensive. The environmental impact of current turbines is not clear. It could harm fish populations but fish-safe turbines have been developed.

The United States has many potential sites where current generation could occur, and several projects are underway, including those in the East River in New York and the San Francisco Bay. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the first U.S. commercial tidal energy pilot project license in 2012. The 10-year license sets the East River (Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy) project on a path towards building 30 turbines to generate 1 MW.


Tidal Barrage

Ocean tidal power harnesses the predictable cycle of energy produced by the tides. A tidal barrage works similarly to a large hydropower reservoir dam, but it is placed at the entrance to a bay or estuary. The retained water in the bay is released through turbines in the barrage and generates power. A tide must have a large enough range between high and low tide, about ten feet, for the barrage to function economically. The best potential sites are located in northern Europe and the U.S. West Coast. A tidal barrage in La Rance, France has been operating since 1967 with a capacity of 240 MW. The potential environmental impact of barrages could be significant because they are built in delicate estuary ecosystems, but less intrusive designs such as fences or floating barges are under development.

Tidal Current

Similar to river current technologies, turbines anchored to the ocean floor or suspended from a buoy in the path of an ocean current could be used to generate power. Although this technology is in the development stages, some potential locations in the United States include the Gulf of Maine, North Carolina, the Pacific Northwest, and the Gulf Stream off Florida.


As wind moves over the surface of the ocean, it transfers energy to the water and creates waves. Although variable in size and speed, waves are predictable and are constantly created. In U.S. coastal waters alone, the total yearly wave energy is 2,100 terawatt hours.

A variety of technologies are being tested to convert wave energy into electricity. Most systems capture energy on the surface of waves or use pressure differences just below the surface. These systems use the swells of waves to create pressure and move hydraulic pumps or pressurized air, which in turn puts generators into motion. The environmental impacts of wave generators are not fully known, but are thought to be minimal and site-specific.

The best potential sites for wave generation are ocean areas with strong wind currents. These areas are between 30° and 60° latitude, polar areas with frequent storms, areas near the equatorial trade winds, and the west coasts of continents. Hybrid wind and wave technology for offshore energy farms are in development. Potential sites in the United States for hybrid wind-wave energy farms include the coastal areas of the East Coast and the Pacific Northwest.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) uses steam produced from warm surface water to spin generating turbines. Cold deep ocean water condenses the steam back into water for reuse. A 36°F temperature difference is necessary between the surface and deep water. Potential sites include tropical islands. OTEC is in the early development stage and is not yet cost-effective, due to the high cost of pumping deep water to surface generating stations. OTEC can be paired with ocean thermal air-conditioning systems (see below). Furthermore, the nutrient-rich deep water can assist in aquaculture. Surface ponds pumped with deep water can cultivate salmon, lobster, and other seafood as well as plankton and algae.

Ocean/Lake Thermal Air-Conditioning

In addition to generating electricity, water also can be used for direct thermal energy. Water from lakes or oceans can provide air-conditioning for buildings. The cold deep water is used to chill fresh water that circulates through a building in a closed-pipe system, providing air-conditioning at a lower cost than traditional methods. The spent water is returned to the ocean or lake to renew the cycle. The cold deep water must be between 39°F and 45°F and close to shore to be economical. Examples of ocean thermal cooling systems are seen in Hawaii (co-located with OTEC facilities), and Toronto, where water from Lake Ontario is used to air-condition downtown buildings. Large-scale OTEC project (100 MW+) situated in island communities such as Puerto Rico, Hawaii or Guam can be economically viable. A 10-MW closed cycle OTEC pilot system is currently under construction in Hawaii, the plant is set to become operational in 2013 and cost over $13 million to build.

Women of Color and Technology in the Economy: The Auto Industry

Today, January 14th marks the start of the annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit. I’ve lived in Detroit my entire 21 years in life. In addition, Detroit has hosted an auto show for over a century. In 1987, the show officially became international in it’s scope and mission. However with this event, when it comes to women, we are easily reminded how technology is traditionally shaped by societal views.  In the article “Feminist theories of technology” by Judy Wacjman, she argued “it is imperative that women are involved throughout the processes and practices of technological innovation.” In response, I agree because how can we truly build an international movement when the voices of 50% of the population are no where to be heard?

With women and person’s of color being least likely to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering, and math it is expected to realize that they are exceedingly behind in global economy when it comes to technology. After viewing the Committee’s history, it is imperative to note that practically there hasn’t been very little, if any women or people of color who has helped with the organization of the event as a chairwoman or a position of higher power. I agree to Wajcman argument in which she states the ways in which technology is shaped by societal “gender relations.” Let us imagine, how the Floor Models who are viewed as tools and also the ways in which each has personally encountered some form of the gender stereotypes and stigmas of women contributions often associated with involvement in the auto industry. I would like to also challenge one to address the argument in how “masculinity and femininity in turn acquire their meaning and character through their…embeddedness in working machines”

At the International Auto Show, women do seem to be viewed as “tools” because their beauty helps market the cars and attract the attention of potential clients, buyers, and investors. There are sexualized, exploited, and put up for sale as a marketing tool. In fact, it is very politically strategic in nature. However, the people who are in charge and in control are considered the master minds which happens to be traditionally white wealthy influential men.

Browse the site http://www.naias.com/, and judge for yourself whether you think the news releases, videos and images pertaining to the 2013 show invite women’s engagement, and if so in what ways — for example as designers, engineers, consumers, or marketing models?

Women's Empowerment for Grass Roots Energy & Environment Networking