States across the Southeast lag behind the rest of the US on basic policies to reduce climate pollution, improve air quality, and protect energy consumers, a new report found.
The report, published Tuesday by the Southern Economic Advancement Project, a non-profit founded by former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams, comes as coronavirus infection rates surge across the region where continued reliance on aging coal plants could exacerbate existing racial and economic inequities.
“We have to understand that climate change is here, that it represents a serious threat to the economy, to our ecosystems and to our people,” Abrams told HuffPost. Utilities in the region have prevented progress by focusing on building gas plants instead of investing in renewable energy in a part of the country awash with solar energy resources. “It’s terrible from a climate perspective,” Leah Stokes, a co-author of the report, told the HuffPost.
“It’s terrible from an air quality perspective, putting people at higher risk of dying from COVID-19, and it’s terrible from a bottom-line perspective in a region where there’s already pretty high energy insecurity.”