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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Flint Water Crisis Fight In Senate Threatens Energy Bill

The fight over the water crisis in Flint, Michigan is threatening to tank the Senate’s energy bill [S. 2012Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015]. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who has taken the lead in negotiating for Flint aid with Republicans, has warned that her caucus could block the energy bill if it isn’t satisfied with the aid package for Flint.
Democrats want a $600 million aid package, with $400 million to match state funds to repair and replace old pipes in the city and the balance going to a research and education center on lead poisoning.
Republicans oppose the cost of the package and are angered by the threats to delay the underlying bill, which has had bipartisan support. The bill includes a number of measures aimed at modernizing the country’s energy systems and policy.
The water supply for Flint, a city of 100,000 people, was switched by an emergency manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2014 from Detroit’s municipal supply to the Flint River for budgetary reasons.  Water from the Flint River is more corrosive; without the proper corrosion controls, it caused lead from old pipes in the city to leach into the drinking water, making it far too dangerous to drink.
Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has introduced a compromise package worth $200 million that would expand loan programs to help out Flint and other cities with lead problems. But it would use money taken from the Energy Department’s advanced vehicle manufacturing loan program, a high priority for Michigan.  Michigan’s delegation took that as an insult.
Two officials involved in the water crisis — the former emergency manager for Flint, Darnell Earley, and Susan Hedman, the EPA regional director who resigned in January — declined invitations to testify.  Chaffetz subpoenaed the two to appear before members. (The Hill, 2/3/2016)

Friday, January 29, 2016

AAEA Presents Testimony At EJ Bill Hearing Before New York City Council

          AAEA President Norris McDonald testified before the New York City Council Committee on Environmental Protection on Thursday, January 28, 2015.  According to committee Chairman Costa Constantinides, it was the first time in the history of the committee that someone testified by Skype [McDonald was in California].

McDonald drafted the Environmental Justice Bill for Councilman Charles Barron in 2003 and Councilmember Charles Barron introduced the bill (Int. No. 404) in 2004 with seven cosponsors.  After meeting with Councilwoman Inez Barron in 2014 to request re-introduction of the legislation and after much review and revisions by the Committee on Environmental Protection, Councilwoman Barron introduced the legislation that we are considering today.  The legislation has 37 cosponsors.


Inez Barron & Charles Barron

The New York EJ legislation is patterned after a national EJ bill I drafted that we still need to get passed in the U.S. Congress.  AAEA formed the Environmental Justice Coalition to work for the passage of the national legislation.  The national bill, New York bill, Maryland bill and Mt. Vernon bill are listed in the Environmental Justice Coalition blog.[1]


Costa Constantinides

The Bills


Int. No. 886, sponsored by Councilwoman Inez Barron, is a local law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to identifying and addressing environmental justice issues. Int. No. 886 sets up an interagency task force to develop agency-wide plans to assure that environmental justice in incorporated into the planning and implementation of agency duties. The legislation also creates an associated environmental justice advisory board, reflecting geographic balance, comprised of pertinent committee chairs or their designees, appointments from environmental justice community boards health or environmental committees, at least seven appointees who are directors, members or employees of environmental justice organizations and at least two appointees who are directors, members or employees of organizations engaged in research related to human health.

Int. No. 359, sponsored by Environmental Protection Committee Chairman Costa Constantinides, is a local law to amend the New York City charter and the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring a study of potential environmental justice communities in New York City and the publication of the results of such study on the city’s website. Int. No. 359 calls for a study of potential Environmental Justice communities in New York City, an identification of pollution sources, recommendations to mitigate adverse environmental impacts and a publication of the results of the study on the City’s website.

Recommendations


AAEA supports both bills and McDonald provided specific recommendations that would improve the legislation.  Although we like the Environmental Working Group and the Advisory Board provisions of Int. No. 886, the bill needs additional protections for vulnerable communities.  The additional protections from our national legislation that should be included in Int. No. 886, include:

Providing a citizen lawsuit provision to allow potential victims of environmental race discrimination to enforce the EJA and the regulations promulgated thereunder.

Providing a citizen endorsement provision to allow potential beneficiaries of nonpolluting economic development to enforce the EJA and the regulations promulgated thereunder.

Establishing the criteria for determining potential violations and endorsements based on comparative community health statistics, comparative community pollution sources and comparative community economic development.

Addressing: acts of discrimination and investigating all community complaints and recommendations related to development projects, whether filed before or after issuance of construction and operating permits.

Empowering citizens, and DEP at the request of citizens, to obtain injunctions to prevent construction and operation of discriminatory polluting facilities and operations that violate the EJA regulations.

Empowering citizens, and DEP at the request of citizens, to endorse the construction and operation of nondiscriminatory nonpolluting facilities and operations that do not violate EJA regulations.

Providing a definitive permitting process regarding demographics for citizens, developers, government agencies and investors.

Directing the DEP to develop EJA regulations.

Int. No. 359 should include types and amounts of pollution at the sources called for by the bill.  AAEA produced pollution studies[2] for Washington, DC that included types and amounts of pollution at each facility listed as an emitter.  It will be very helpful to affected citizens to have this sort of information at their disposal.

AAEA Testimony

Committee Report

Committee Hearing Video




[1] http://ejcoalition.blogspot.com/
[2] Our Unfair Share 3: Race and Pollution In Washington, DC, 2000, http://www.cfece.org/Ous3.htm

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

EPA Office of Civil Rights Proposal Weakens Civil Rights Protections

Agency Holds Hearings on Revision of Proposed Civil Rights Rule Revision

Environmental and community groups from five states that sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in July over the agency’s failure to take action on civil rights complaints are calling for the agency to significantly strengthen a rule it proposed last month to revise the way the agency handles civil rights complaints.
On Dec. 14, the federal register published the proposed rule that was intended to improve the way the EPA’s Office of Civil Rights responds to civil rights complaints it receives. The proposed revision, however, actually weakens existing protections by removing deadlines for the agency to respond and investigate complaints, according to the groups that filed suit.
Under the current rule, the EPA has five days to acknowledge receipt of a civil rights compliant, 20 days to decide whether the complaint merits an investigation and 180 days to make a preliminary finding of discrimination. However, the EPA’s proposed update would remove statutory deadlines, no longer requiring the agency to take action within any specific period of time.
The EPA, under the proposal, would no longer have to accept all valid complaints but would have discretion to decide which complaints to pursue.
The proposed rulemaking comes on the heels of an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity in August that found that the Office of Civil Rights has failed to investigate and act on claims filed under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which allows federal agencies to withhold funds from local and state governments that discriminate on the basis of race or national origin.
The investigation, which culminated in a seven-part news series,"Environmental Justice Denied"determined that the EPA dismissed 90 percent of claims it received alleging environmental discrimination and that it never issued a finding of environmental discrimination in its 22-year history of investigating civil rights complaints despite repeated national studies showing that communities of color face a disproportionate burden of environmental pollution.
In July, Earthjustice on behalf of groups around the country sued the EPA for allowing five separate civil rights complaints to stall for more than a decade. The complaints involve discrimination by the states in granting permits that subject already overburdened low-income communities of color to more big-polluting facilities. 
The EPA, launched a 60-day comment period on the rule, which began Dec. 14, and is holding five public hearings in January in Chicago, Ill.; Houston, Texas; Oakland, Calif.; Research Triangle Park, N.C. and Washington, D.C. to receive comments about the rule.
Available Resources
Earthjustice Feature: Righting Civil Wrongs
###
Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law organization dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment.
Earthjustice.org

US Civil Rights Commission to Examine EPA, Civil Rights and Coal Ash

WHAT: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is holding a hearing on Friday, Jan. 22., to examine EPA’s  track record of protecting civil rights with regard to the placement of coal ash disposal facilities near minority and low income communities. Coal ash is the toxic waste that remains after coal is burned in power plants. 
EPA has found that communities of color and low-income communities suffer greater risk from coal ash pollution than the general population. 
Among those testifying are Lois Gibbs, who spearhead the response to  Love Canal, a suspect disease-causing industrial and chemical dumpsite, buried beneath homes, in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Gibbs’ work led to the designation of the first superfund site with federal funds designated for environmental cleanup. 
Earthjustice Attorney Lisa Evans, who has led the national effort to regulate coal will testify along with Earthjustice attorney Marianne Engleman Lado, who filed a civil rights complaint against the EPA  in 2013 for failing to protect the civil rights of residents of Uniontown, Alabama, a nearly all-black community that received 4 million yards of toxic coal ash from the largest coal ash spill in Kingston, Tenn in 2008. Kingston, Tenn., is a predominantly white community. 
Ester Calhoun, a resident of Uniontown Alabama, and president of Black Belt Citizens for Health & Justice, will testify at 9 am. 
Lisa Evans and Marianne Engleman Lado are scheduled to testify at 2:30 pm. 
WHEN: January 22, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET 
WHERE: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
1331 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 1150
Washington, DC 20425 (Entrance on F Street NW)

Monday, January 04, 2016

National Black Chamber of Commerce Does Not Mislead Minorities

PRESIDENT'S CORNER

By Norris McDonald

I read Martin Luther King, III's Christmas present article to National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) President Harry Alford and I have to disagree with his assessment.  I have known Mr. Alford for a couple of decades and I know his primary interest is in promoting Black business.  Period. And to the extent he does that, I totally support him.  Now we do not agree on everything, but we are on the same page when it comes to promoting Black business opportunities. Mr. Alford opposes ANYTHING that he considers to be a deterrent to Black business development.  I understand his mission completely.

AAEA is an environmental group that seeks to resolve environmental problems through the application of practical solutions. We are also the only environmental group working to increase African American ownership of energy infrastructure and resources, including the fossil fuels industries.  AAEA and NBCC are on the same page when it comes to Black ownership of energy resources and infrastructure.

With over three decades of Inside The Beltway experience, I also understand politics.  And Mr. King's article was strictly political. You have to pick a side and support it 110% or you are useless. Mr. King has picked a side.  Mr. Alford has picked another side.  Let's look at the sides.

The EPA global warming agenda is symbolic at best.  It will do nothing to slow global warming.  Just ask China and India.  It is political symbolism just like the recent United Nations climate change agreement among almost 200 countries.  These are the HOV lanes of climate change.  EPA acted because the Congress would not.  As with most other clean air regulations, these will flounder around in the litigation pool and alternative regs will be drafted at some future date. The Clean Power Plan will not mitigate global warming.  But our Energy Defense Reservations (EDR) Program would.  We are working to get the NBCC, the Obama administration and the energy sector to accept this approach as our front line offense for mitigating global warming [We would also welcome Mr. King's support].  It is a technology-driven program that will actually reduce global warming and create real jobs.

As far as the NBCC being funded by the energy sector: GOOD FOR THEM.  We would also love to be funded by the energy sector.  Make checks payable to AAEA.  We want more than luncheon and conference funding though. We want partnerships that promote Black ownership of energy infrastructure and resources.  The energy sector does not like it so much when we bring this up.  But they should understand that they could benefit from such partnerships [See our LNG work].

So-called 'clean energy jobs' WILL NEVER compete with the traditional energy sources.  If anybody tries to tell you different, THEY are the ones misleading you.  Moreover, Blacks own virtually none of the fossil fuels industry.  How can Blacks oppose using fossil fuels when we have never owned the mechanisms or materials or resources in this sector? This is why President Obama's true energy agenda includes ALL OF THE ABOVE energy sources.  His Clean Power Plan is largely political to appease the environmental movement and the liberal left.

Our electric power grid can reliably get baseload power from two sources: 1) nuclear power and 2) coal. Natural gas is such a premium fuel that I hate to see it used to produce baseload electricity. The super economies of China and India understand this.  Anyone who says renewables can reliably produce baseload power is misleading you.

Hydraulic fracturing has removed any energy vulnerability for our national security.  That is why Congress recently repealed the ban on the U.S. exporting petroleum.  America is in the process of exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) too. President Obama's Clean Power Plan cannot reduce utility bills.  Botched deregulation in the 1990's and the reconciliation of that debacle will double electricity bills no matter what.

So Mr. King's shot across Mr. Alford's bow was political and useless.  Instead of blacks attacking each other for marginal political gain, we should be working together to aggressively get Black ownership of energy sector resources and infrastructure.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Company Fires Anti-Protester Immediately for Going Racist

John Pisone, in the video below, decided to go full tilt racist on black videographer Tom Jefferson during an anti-fracking rally (against Rex Energy) in Pennsylvania.  Upon seeing the video, Pisone's employer, MMC Land Management, fired him immediately and posted the following statement on facebook:


Today, we were disgusted to learn that one of MMC’s former employees used racial slurs and made racially charged comments during a peaceful protest in Mars, Pennsylvania, outside of work hours at a location with which we have no affiliation. We are sorry that this incident occurred. Whether at work or not, we do not condone hate speech - EVER. Inclusion and diversity are among MMC’s core values. We believe in equality for everyone, regardless of race, age, gender identity, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. MMC has terminated this employee and will never do business with him again in the future.




Jefferson is currently working on a documentary entitled "The Way We Live," which is focused on social justice and climate change.  The protest that upset Pisone stemmed from an ongoing battle over six proposed drilling wells on Rex Energy's Geyer well pad, a permitted site located approximately six miles from the Mars School District campus, which serves 3,200 students.

We applaud MMC Land Management.

(RT, Philly Voice)

Friday, January 01, 2016

Arnold B. Baker Appointed to Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans


Arnold B. Baker
Arnold B. Baker
In April 2015, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal appointed New Orleans businessman Arnold B. Baker to the Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans. Baker will serve a five-year term, succeeding Daniel F. Packer, one of four Orleans Parish representatives on the seven-member regional Board that governs Port operations in Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes.
 
Baker is owner and founder of New Orleans-based Baker Ready Mix and Building Materials, which operates three plants in the area, a fleet of mixer trucks and employs 40 local drivers, technicians and industry professionals.

Prior to founding Baker Ready Mix in 2003, Baker served as president of Centergy Development Group - a consultancy created to implement redevelopment strategies for distressed commercial real estate - from 1999 until 2003. He also served as Assistant to Mayor Marc Morial of New Orleans' Policy, Planning and Development and Director of Small & Emerging Business Development from 1996 until 1999. Before his public sector commitment, Baker regularly received industry awards working for Simon Development Group and General Growth Properties, two of the world's largest shopping mall developers.

Baker currently serves on the boards of the New Orleans Board of Trade, New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, Southern Black Chamber of Commerce, Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, Kate Middleton Elementary School, New Orleans Start Up Fund, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Dillard University School of Business, and the Bayou District Foundation.

He has served on many boards and commissions including GNO Inc. , the New Orleans Bureau of Governmental Research and the New Orleans Business Council, as well as being Vice Chairman of the New Orleans Business Council and CoFounder of the several Black Chambers throughout the state of Louisiana.  He is a former chairman of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

Baker grew up in a military family moving frequently between the United State and Europe, primarily attending military schools on military bases. Attending Texas State University on a football scholarship and achieving All American status as a junior, he graduated with degrees in marketing and business administration. Baker also earned a certified marketing director certification from the International Council of Shopping Center Management Institute at Michigan State University; a Marketing Director 1 certification from the University of Miami and a WOC Advance Concrete Certification.

He chose New Orleans as his "hometown," where he has resided since 1992. He is married to Tracee Dundas, the producer of "New Orleans Fashion Week" and co host of "Fashion Fridays on Fox".

The Port of New Orleans is a deep-draft multipurpose port at the center of the world's busiest port system - Louisiana's Lower Mississippi River. Connected to major inland markets and Canada via 14,500 miles of waterways, six class-1 railroads and the interstate highway system, the Port is the ideal gateway for steel, project cargo, containers, coffee, natural rubber, chemicals, forest products, manufactured goods and cruising.

(The New Orleans Agenda)

Saturday, November 07, 2015

AAEA Supports Liberty Port Ambrose LNG Project at FEIS Hearing

The Liberty Port Ambrose LNG application is currently pending before the U.S. Maritime Administration.  The U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Maritime Administration have produced a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and a hearing was held on Monday, November 2, 2015 at the Long Beach Hotel in Long Beach, New York.  AAEA President Norris McDonald presented a statement in support of the application at the hearing.



AAEA Center supports the project and we are hopeful that Liberty Natural Gas will adopt our recommendation for this project.

Monday, October 05, 2015

EPA Strengthens Ozone Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has strengthened the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb) from 75 ppb to protect public health. The updated standards will reduce Americans’ exposure to ozone, improving public health protection, particularly for at risk groups including children, older adults, and people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma. Ground-level ozone forms when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the air.
EPA examined nearly 2,300 studies in this review of the ozone standards including more than 1,000 new studies published since the last review of the standards in 2008. Scientific evidence shows that ozone can cause a number of harmful effects on the respiratory system, including difficulty breathing and inflammation of the airways.
The revised standards could significantly improve public health protection, resulting in fewer premature deaths, and thousands fewer missed school and work days and asthma attacks. For people with lung diseases like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or the 23 million Americans and 6 million children living with asthma, these effects can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, emergency room visits and hospital admissions. Evidence also indicates that long-term exposure to ozone is likely to be one of many causes of asthma development. And studies show that ozone exposure is likely to cause premature death.  The public health benefits of the updated standards, estimated at $2.9 to 5.9 billion annually in 2025, outweigh the estimated annual costs of $1.4 billion. 
Local communities, states, and the federal government have made substantial progress in reducing ground-level ozone. Nationally, from 1980 to 2014, average ozone levels have fallen 33 percent, while the economy has continued to grow. 
To ensure that people are alerted when ozone reaches unhealthy levels, EPA is extending the ozone monitoring season for 32 states and the District of Columbia. This is particularly important for at-risk groups, including children and people with asthma because it will provide information so families can take steps to protect their health on smoggy days. 
EPA also is strengthening the “secondary ozone standard” to 70 ppb, which will improve protection for trees, plants and ecosystems. New studies since the last review of the standards add to evidence showing that repeated exposure to ozone reduces growth and has other harmful effects on plants and trees. These types of effects have the potential to harm ecosystems and the benefits they provide. 
The Clean Air Act provides states with time to meet the standards. Depending on the severity of their ozone problem, areas would have until between 2020 and 2037 to meet the standards.
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the ozone standards every five years to determine whether they should be revised in light of the latest science. Today’s action comes after a thorough review and public comment process.  The agency received more than 430,000 written comments on the proposed standards and held three public hearings. 

25th Annual National Black Farmers Association Conference

November 6-7, 2015

Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport Hotel
5000 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd N
Birmingham, AL 35212
Room Reservations Call (205) 691-6900 Code: NBFA Rate: $69/night
Free Conference Registration
National Black Farmers Association
"Growing Opportunities For Farmers"
Our goal is to strengthen the capability to provide support for small, limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers and landowners. Farmers will have the opportunity to share and evaluate materials and programs from around the country that are successful.
About the National Black Farmers Association 
The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) is a non-profit organization representing African American farmers and their families in the United States. As an association, it serves tens of thousands of members nationwide. NBFA's education and advocacy efforts have been focused on civil rights, land retention, access to public and private loans, education and agricultural training, and rural economic development for black and other small farmers.
The 25th Annual National Black Farmers Association Conference is an interactive two day program giving you practical knowledge and techniques to enhance your skills and networking, and financial resource capabilities for small, limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers and landowners. The presentations will focus on providing information on Agricultural programs and techniques in the areas of farm credit and financing, networking, communications, skills, legal and social services, farm management teaching tools, International markets, and many more. Sessions will feature a variety of speakers followed by an opportunity to interact one-on-one with presenters from the US government, private companies, and non-profit organizations. Several parts of the United States government regulate activities that impact agriculture (United States Department of Agriculture, United States Department of Commerce, United States Department of Interior, United States Food and Drug Administration, United States Environmental Protection Agency, and United States Department of Health & Human Services.
Below are the areas which we see US Government Agencies, Non-profit Organizations, and Advocacy and Social Justice groups assisting us in facilitation, program materials, break-out sessions, financial scholarships for New, Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers.
Financial Management      Forestry Incentives and Cost Share
Alternate Crops                 Livestock Production
Risk Management             Retirement and Estate Planning
Agribusiness                     Consumer and Small Business Banking
Marketing Strategies         Environmental Conservation and Protection
Farm Diversification         Accessing Farm Credit
Crop Subsidies                  Establishing Cooperatives
Rural Housing                   New Technology in Agriculture
Youth in Farming              Benefit of USDA Service Centers 
Seed Availability               Effects of New Farm Bill 
Financial Literacy             Food and Nutrition Services (SNAP)
The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) appreciates your support. Please contact Dr. John Boyd, Jr. at (804) 691-8528 if you would like to a Sponsor or Exhibitor.
Online Conference Registration:  http://www.jotformpro.com/form/40674997757981 
NBFA CONFERENCE 2015 TENTATIVE AGENDA
Friday, November 6, 2015 – "Growing Opportunities For Farmers"
  8:00 am - 12:00 pm     Conference Registration
  9:00 am - 10:00 am     General Assembly 1 Greeting - TBD
                                   Welcome - Dr. John Wesley Boyd, Jr., NBFA Founder & President
                                   Keynote Speaker: Invited - USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack
10:00 am - 12:00 pm     Session I - Intro to Farming (USDA 101) - Kara Boyd, NBFA
                                   Program Coordinator; FSA (Latrice Hill, USDA, FSA Director of
                                   Outreach), Ag Census Update  (TBD, USDA, NASS)
12:00 pm -   1:00 pm     Luncheon Keynote Speaker -
                                   Invited Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL)    
  1:00 pm -   1:45 pm    Session II  - AgrAbility (Chuck Baldwin, NAP Special Populations
                                  Outreach Coordinator, Purdue University) & Veterans in Ag (TBD)
  2:00 pm -   2:45 pm    Session III - Agricultural Advanced Technology - Pioneer (TBD)
  3:00 pm -   3:45 pm    Session IV - Financial Readiness for Farmers - PNC, CapitalOne
  4:00 pm -   5:00 pm    Session V - Update on AGOA & Cuban Trade/Agriculture - FAS 
  5:00 pm -   7:00 pm    Indigenous Dinner (host - Association of American Indian
                                  Farmers) - (Panelist - TBD)
  7:00 pm -   9:00 pm   Growing Galore (host - National Womens Farming Association &
                                  Our Girls Enrichment Program) (Guest of Honor Jupiter Strong)
Saturday, November 7, 2015 – "Growing Opportunities For Farmers"
   8:00 am - 12:00 pm    Conference Registration
   9:00 am - 10:45 am    Welcome - Dr. John Wesley Boyd, Jr.
                                   Greetings - TBD
                                   General Assembly II – USDA Lawsuit & Settlement Updates
                                   (Kara Boyd, President, AAIF & Dr. John Boyd, President NBFA)
11:00 am - 12:00 pm     Session VI - Environmental Regulations and Risks Facing
                                   Farmers (TBD - EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy)
12:00 pm -   1:00 pm     Luncheon Keynote Speaker
                                   Invited Congressman John Lewis (D-GA)
  1:00 pm -   2:00 pm    Session VII - USDA/NRCS & USDA/Forest Service (TBD)
  2:00 pm -   2:45 pm    Session VIII - USDA/APHIS (Kenneth E. Johnson, USDA, APHIS,
                                  OCRDI Director) & ASPCA (TBD - Nancy Perry)
  3:00 pm -   5:00 pm    Session IX - SNAP EBT - Farmer Market's Sign Up
  7:00 pm -   9:00 pm    25th Annual NBFA Awards Banquet
                                  Greetings - TBD
                                  Welcome - Dr. John Wesley Boyd, Jr.
                                  Keynote Speaker - (Invited – President Barack Obama)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Urban American Outdoors TV Show to Host Fishing Derby at National Mall

On Saturday, September 19th, 2015, a fishing derby is being held at the Constitution Gardens in Washington D.C.'s National Mall, for 250 urban youth.
The event is one of many outdoor events the TV Show, Urban American Outdoors, has hosted in many parts of the country since they began broadcasting in 1999. The show's creation was a reaction to the lack of diversity and inclusion found in the representations of outdoor and nature activities across the United States. These under representations were creating and reproducing myths that people of color weren't into the outdoors, which is false, but widely assumed because the right stories and images weren't being conveyed.
"When I was growing up in Oklahoma, outdoor activities like fishing, hunting, and hiking were a big part of my childhood, but for these outdoors activities, there were no people that looked like me in any marketing or advertising," says Wayne Hubbard, Host and Co-Founder of Urban American Outdoors TV Show, with his wife, Candice Price. The couple created the TV Show with the intent of having it broadcasted in the Kansas City regional area, but they quickly received offers for national distribution. The Kansas City based show features segments filmed all across the United States "People of color weren't being represented in outdoor TV shows, and when we first started pitching the pilot of the show, people responded with questions like, 'Do black people hunt and fish?' People treated the idea like a big joke. These responses were stark indications that the media was completely omitting people of color from their definitions of outdoors and nature activities."
The Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture appointed Wayne Hubbard to the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Council on August 27th, 2015. The TV Show has also received its 4th Emmy nomination this year for Environment-Program Feature/Segment, and has been the recipient of over 50 broadcasting awards from various organizations. In its 15th season, the syndicated show airs weekly across the United States and parts of Europe, early on Saturday or Sunday mornings. In Kansas City, the show airs on Bounce TV every Saturday at 7:30 am.
2015-09-10-1441853374-8168884-KCMOKIDSFISHINGDERBY2013016rev.jpg
Fishing Derby held in Kansas City, Missouri in 2013, hosted by Urban American Outdoors

The fishing derby event is being coordinated with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service to connect youth with nature. "People want to see themselves in advertisements. Day-to-day marketing needs to represent more diverse backgrounds of people to truly extend an invitation with open hands that our public lands belong to everyone and we all have a stake in their conservation," adds Hubbard. The fishing event is a catch and release event, teaching children the importance of maintaining healthy populations of fish and wildlife for conservation purposes. It also provides an opportunity to introduce urban youth to career opportunities that are traditionally not considered viable in their communities. Urban American Outdoors hosts events such as these to share the beauty of the outdoors and promote inclusion and diversity in decisions concerning its conservation and recreational uses. In its 15th season, the syndicated show airs weekly across the United States and parts of Europe, early on Saturday or Sunday mornings. In Kansas City, the show airs on Bounce TV every Saturday at 7:30 am. If the show isn't broadcasted in your market, you can contact your local TV networks with requests to have it aired.  (Huffington Post, 9/11/2015)
2015-09-10-1441853452-1675525-KCMOKIDSFISHINGDERBY2013129rev.jpg
Fishing Derby held in Kansas City, Missouri in 2013, hosted by Urban American Outdoors

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Abuse of Black Businessman Sam Sibert: Pipeline Company Pioneer Has Tough Road

Sam Sibert


Sam L. Sibert was born in South Carolina and spent his formative years in Chicago, Illinois.

He graduated from Crane Tech High School in Chicago and became a recruit of Eastern Oklahoma State College. He spent two winning seasons at Eastern as their showcase center.

Sam left Eastern and was recruited to Texas Tech University. He later left Texas Tech to be recruited by Coach Lucius Mitchell at Kentucky State University.

As a Kentucky State Thorobred, Sams talents as center, supported his team to win two (2) of (3) consecutive NAIA Championships which have not been duplicated in over 40 years.

Mr. Sibert was noticed for his tremendous talents at the NAIA Tournaments in Kansas City, and was sought after by the NBA as well as the ABA. He was drafted by the NBA and placed in the top 20 players of college athletes, joining ranks with Julius Ervin, Bob McAdoo, Paul Westphal, and Sam’s teammate Travis Grant.   In 1972 Sam was drafted as the 1st pick by the Cincinnati Royals who later became the Kansas City-Omaha Kings.

After a successful tour with the professional basketball league, Sam redirected his career, and settled in Texas where he completed his college degree and then built a successful career in the Utility Construction Industry over 30 years. At the peak of his company’s success,

Basketball Retired Players Association (Dallas Chapter)
Sam Sibert
Has An Unarmed Black Business Been Murdered?

Black Business Matters

What happens to a dream deferred?  Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore---And then run?  Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet?  Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.  Or does it explode? 

Langston Hughes, the poet wrote this excerpt of a montage of poems in 1951.  Now 64 years later, the realities of the inferences of Hughes’ poem speaks volumes to what happens when a businessman does everything that he is asked to do, but in return receives contempt and retaliation.  Such is the story of the S. L. Sibert Management and Construction Company in the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas. 


The story of Sam Sibert and the company he built over 25 years ago, starts off as a Cinderella-like beginning.   An opportunity presented itself in the utilities construction industry, and Sibert prepared and took advantage of those opportunities.  However, there is an old saying in this country that states that when you work hard and do your homework, you will succeed.   Right?  Not always.   For countless African American men and women in the United States, even when you work hard and do your homework, there are elements  who will do whatever it takes to create conditions that either attempt to make you fail or succeed in making you fail.

Let’s go back to 1989 when Sam Sibert and his wife, Rita, started the S. L. Sibert Construction Company, which was incorporated a few years later.  A prime contractor for TXU Utilities,  Mr. Sibert was awarded a major contract to build transmission and distribution of electric and gas in the Dallas /Fort Worth area.   Also, because of his reputation, he was given a contract to do major water system construction in Colleyville, Texas, one of the fastest growing suburbs.  The S. L. Sibert Company, grew to become the largest 100% African American owned utility construction company in the United States,  with up to 150 employees  at one time during its peak.  Now, in 2015, the S. L. Sibert Company Inc no longer exists and there are many in the communities of color wondering why.  Well let’s examine the many  reasons why the S. L. Sibert Company no longer exists.     


In 1990, the  S. L. Sibert Company worked under agreements, which completed construction  in electric and gas.  TXU  made changes in 2000  and added three additional contractors under an Alliance Agreement with given rates.  Mr. Sibert’s  company was moved to share in gas distribution only.    

        On October 1, 2004,  at 9:00 am., an entourage of  TXU company managers visited the corporate headquarters of the Sibert Company and presented Mr. Sibert with a closure agreement .(which ultimately would  have protected TXU with any contract disputes)  On that very day, TXU was set to sell it's gas division to Atmos Energy  by 12 Noon.  In  essence, this  terminated the TXU gas  contract with the Sibert Company.   Mr . Sibert  refused to sign, and was forced to accept the Atmos  agreement.  Atmost Energy purchased every gas  contract, without any changes under TXU, with the exception of the S. L. Sibert Company, who was given a separate contract.   This  contract did not include any of the original TXU agreement. 


        In February 2005,  the S. L. Sibert Company, Inc. , filed for bankruptcy, entered Chapter 11,  and was converted in January 2006 to a Chapter 7.  Mr Sibert started a second company , the  S. L. Sibert Management and Construction Company.   Sibert made  an  agreement with Atmos Energy  to repair , rebuild gas services and replace  compressed couplings in the Dallas/Fort  Worth area.   Even with the limited amount of work that Sibert was given  by Atmos,  he was able to add  employees, move to a new facility, and rebuild his fleet of equipment.   At the same time,  major gas pipelines were being built,  but,  S. L. Sibert  M & C , a prime contractor was not allowed to participate in the  bidding process.  To make matters worse, within two years,  Atmos Energy withdrew all contracts from the S. L. Sibert Company, with no explanation.   Other  gas contractors were  given  the contracts that had been withdrawn from Sibert. [News Story]     

Bruised, but not defeated, the S.L. Sibert  Management and Construction Company continued,  finding work in the state of Oklahoma,  in particular Oklahoma City and Enid, Oklahoma.   After preparing employees with new directives, and securing all of the licenses required to work in that state, the S.L. Sibert  Management and Construction Company soldiered on, only to be denied fairness once again.   S. L. Sibert  M & C  began construction for ONG, a subsidiary of  ONE OK,  the gas utilities company for Oklahoma, to do  major pipeline  replacement of  gas.

The Sibert Company worked for ONG  completing a  high pressured 12”and 16”steel pipeline  in Enid, Oklahoma.  This dual pipeline  carried the flow of gas to the northern  sections of Oklahoma.  A 36”water pipeline to a fertilizer plant, was not located by certified locators for the city, state, or ONG,  nor was the possible existence of the pipe mentioned to the Sibert Company. The pipeline was tapped by an excavator and high pressured water was released, which caused a delay in finishing the job.  A work order was submitted at the completion of the project, which included the expenses for the delay, however, this change order was denied by ONG.  The disagreements between the companies caused the additional contracts that Sibert had been awarded, unceremoniously taken away.  Was this a case of bad breaks, or was it the politics of dealing with an African American owned business capable of doing the job? 


Then came Chesapeake Energy. [Story]  And it doesn’t end there.,  In 2013 they returned to a division of Energy Future Holdings Corporation, Oncor, an electrical delivery corporation.  Sibert  had met with several company execs for a number of years to enter into an agreement to do contract work with Oncor.  He was awarded a contract, a small contract, to hire several employees to work in the service centers to do electrical work.  Note that Sibert was not allowed to manage nor supervise his employees.  Can we say setup?   A contract that was never meant to succeed in any way, was subsequently and unceremoniously taken away with unsubstantiated reasons, no explanations, just taken away after a 9 (nine) month run.   No company executive would meet with him to discuss the situation.   He was directed to the the V. P. of Community Affairs, an African American.  This meeting resulted  without  resolution.  Now let’s talk about the  community.

Here is a company that spent $1.5 million in labor costs per year for  15 years in the community and here are the Corporations who appear to have problems when there is  an experienced,  sustainable,  African American  owned  business  that  had proven itself to be  capable of being a prime contractor, treated with great disrespect.  What will the  “Community” think of this when the word gets out?    

So ….”What  happens to a dream deferred?”……