Congresswoman Summer Lee Speaks at Launch of Green New Deal For Health

Where I grew up in Braddock, in the Mon Valley, our air is so dirty that we have some of the highest rates of pollution causing childhood asthma, COPD, and emphysema, and other respiratory illnesses in this country. I know firsthand that health justice is climate justice – and I’m fighting for a Green New Deal so that kids in my community can live.”

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Summer Lee (PA-12)joined Senator Ed Markey, Ro Khanna, and other progressive leaders for a press conference marking the fourth anniversary of the Green New Deal Resolution and introducing the Green New Deal for Health Act, legislation aimed at empowering the healthcare sector to protect the health and wellbeing of workers, communities, and our planet in the face of the climate crisis and environmental racism.

Click HERE to watch the Congresswoman Lee’s Entire Remarks 

Lee said, “Where I grew up in Braddock, in the Mon Valley, our air is so dirty that we have some of the highest rates of pollution causing childhood asthma, COPD, and emphysema, and other respiratory illnesses in this country. I know firsthand that health justice is climate justice. I’m fighting for a Green New Deal so that kids in my community can live.”

Lee continued, “The people know damn well that for this country to be a place where everyone can thrive, we CANNOT let corporate polluters pump toxins into any more Black, brown, and poor communities on the backs of taxpayers. We cannot let fossil fuel billionaires and the politicians they bankroll turn us against each other. We cannot let them call us “radical” for organizing for the survival of our children–and then blame us for the economic pain they inflict on all of us to rake in billions as our planet burns.” 

The Green New Deal for Health Act would deploy a whole-of-government and whole-of-health approach to protect our collective health from the impacts of climate change and to mitigate environmental impacts from health sector operations. Specifically, the bill:

  1. Invests in healthy communities
  2. Supports workers
  3. Creates green and resilient healthcare systems.

Click HERE to watch the Congresswoman Lee’s Entire Remarks 

Transcript of remarks: 

Good afternoon everybody, 

Let me just start by saying that it is so good to be here with so many of our climate and environmental justice movement organizers and activists. 

I’m so honored to be here from Pennsylvania, from Western Pennsylvania, from Braddock, PA – which I’m going to put on the map.  

Braddock, PA is the home of steel, Western Pennsylvania is the playground of fossil fuels – but we sent the first Black woman to congress from Pennsylvania. We also sent a Green New Deal politician there. 

So I’m telling you, if we can win in Western Pennsylvania, then we can win everywhere. 

Where I grew up in Braddock, in the Mon Valley, our air is so dirty that we have some of the highest rates of pollution causing childhood asthma, COPD, and emphysema, and other respiratory illnesses in this country. I know firsthand that health justice is climate justice – and I’m fighting for a Green New Deal so that kids in my community can live. 

We’re here today because the people came together to build this multi-racial, multi-generational movement to right the wrongs of environmental racism and demand clean air and water, worker power, union jobs, lower costs and a liveable future for each and every one of us. 

We’re here because the people know damn well that for this country to be a place where everyone can thrive…we CANNOT let corporate polluters pump toxins into any more Black, brown and poor communities on the backs of taxpayers….We can’t let fossil fuel billionaires and the politicians they bankroll turn us against each other…We cannot let them call us “radical” for organizing for the survival of our children–and then blame us for the economic pain they inflict on all of us to rake in billions as our planet burns. 

We’re here because the people joined together to fight for a Green New Deal, and demanded that Democrats put climate at the top of the agenda, that we hold the line on No Climate No Deal, and won. 

The Green New Deal movement is powerful because it’s intersectional: climate justice, racial justice, economic justice, social justice, and health justice. Now, we’ve got to get to the finish line.

For the 14 million Americans who live in health deserts..who are the same folks suffering from dirty air and water…the same folks providing care to others suffering from dirty air and water…the same folks who can’t afford health care, and the same folks who can’t take off work when they get sick… It’s time for a Green New Deal for you , we are here to fight for you , and we are going to finish until we get this done. 

The Green New Deal for Health Act:

Invests in healthy communities:

  • Establishes a public accountability process when hospitals propose closures or reductions of services in order to understand and mitigate the impact on surrounding communities and health care providers.
  • Strengthens community mental health efforts to address the mental toll of extreme weather disasters and other stressors.
  • Funds support for community heat resilience programs that conduct research and educate communities on the risks of extreme heat and on mitigation strategies to reduce heat-related illness and mortality.

Supports workers:

  • Expands the community health workforce and funds education efforts for health care workers, including doctors, nurses, midwives, physician’s assistants, and others, to ensure all healthcare workers are equipped with the knowledge and skills to protect our health from the impacts of the climate crisis.
  • Establishes grants to pay hazard pay to the essential workers in health care who show up and continue to care for us during and after disasters.
  • Includes provisions to protect workers from union busting and prioritize grants to facilities that collectively bargain with their workers.

Creates green and resilient healthcare systems:

  • Revives a New-Deal-era program to modernize, weatherize, and reduce the environmental footprint of health facilities to protect public health and ensure people can access care before, during, and after crises.
  • Mobilizes federal agencies to decarbonize the health care sector and establish green and resilient medical supply chains.
  • Includes solar batteries, heat pumps, and other resiliency measures as eligible Medicare expenses, allowing people with disabilities to install lifesaving, resilient home infrastructure to protect their health in extreme weather and blackouts.

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