Yessina Funes, Gizmodo, November 15, 2019
There’s not much hype right now around Senator Cory Booker becoming president, but he deserves a lot more attention than he’s gotten. That’s because when it comes to the intersection of the environment and racism, at least, he’s got it covered.
His climate change plan is centered around justice, and he’s released a plan to remove all lead pipes in the U.S. He was one of six candidates to show up for the first-ever Presidential Forum on Environmental Justice last week and one of three at a forum put on by formerly incarcerated people held last month. Incarcerated people are some of the Americans most impacted by the climate crisis. Booker is thinking about them and how he fix this injustice if he makes it to the White House, though he’s still working on a specific plan.
He was quick to mention the awful incident earlier this year when incarcerated people inside a Brooklyn jail were without heat during an extreme cold snap.
After answering my question, Booker went on to note that he would especially create plans for incarcerated people who fall under federal authority. I didn’t have time to ask how a Booker White House might also push states to take action to protect their incarcerated populations, but he was clear that issues around justice and equity aren’t “secondary” for him, as he put it.
In fact, before heading to Orangeburg, South Carolina, for the forum, the senator met with formerly incarcerated people as part of a South Carolina-based re-entry program, the Turning Leaf Project. He said he went to listen to the stories of these individuals who are transitioning into society after spending time behind bars.
As the climate crisis grows in its urgency, incarcerated people need someone who can create a proper plan to protect them in the face of dangerous weather and unjust labor practices. Think what you will of incarcerated people, but these are human beings with family members who love them. They deserve basic human rights—whether that’s safety from a hurricane, heat when it’s cold, or air conditioning when the heat gets unbearable, impacts that could become more extreme in a worsening climate crisis.
Booker is willing to take a stand. What about everyone else?