Cori Bush on Her Green New Deals for Cities

St. Louis is home to a pair of the biggest coal companies on the planet, massive coal ash deposits, asthma that affects Black children far more than white children, and a landfill full of nuclear waste that could catch fire.

For these reasons and more, voters of Missouri’s first district renominated Representative Cori Bush to the Democratic ticket, nearly guaranteeing her a second term in office in a deep-blue district representing most of St. Louis. Bush will go back to Washington with a climate bill specially designed to finance urban environmental cleanup and decarbonization, the Green New Deals for Cities Act of 2021 (HR 2644).

“It’s the people who put our pressure on our politicians,” Bush told The Nation. “The voters, the people, and the local governments need to know that this funding can be available.”

Cosponsored by Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, HR 2644 would distribute $1 trillion directly to cities, towns, and Native American tribes over a period of four years, bypassing conservative state legislatures to empower local governments. “St. Louis has been in need of more investment for such a long time,” the congresswoman said. “We see it in other cities, too, like Flint, and now Jackson,” all of which now share a catastrophic drinking water crisis. “We know our walls are full of lead paint. Black children are hospitalized with asthma with 10 times the frequency as white children.”

Of 72 cities surveyed by the Equity Indicators Project, which measures racial disparities in areas like health care, education, and employment, St. Louis was the lowest-scoring city for asthma-related health problems. Dust and mold in housing are serious contributors, but so is poverty, which puts adequate health care out of reach.

These systemic issues are only made worse by extreme weather events occasioned by climate change, which are already wreaking havoc on decrepit US infrastructure. In July 2022, St. Louis experienced a one-in-a-thousand-years flooding event. Roughly 25 percent of the area’s normal yearly rainfall fell in about 12 hours. Bush said, “Homes were flooded, people lost vehicles and became displaced. That’s happened in Georgia, and in Rhode Island too. And in Jackson, Mississippi, a predominantly Black community has no access to clean water. This isn’t happening in a community that’s affluent.”

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