Statement of Solidarity and Action From PA to the Gulf South

Posted Feb 23, 2021, by Veronica Coptis

A changing climate leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, duration, and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events. 

International Panel on Climate Change

We are witnessing this very crisis impact our friends in the South, particularly in Texas and across the Gulf South region. We are living through a reality that huge swaths of the country are facing 30+ hours of black-outs, boiled water advisories, and extreme distress. This is not just bad luck or bad weather — it is another reminder of the failure to act on the climate crisis, resulting in no preparation for communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. 

All of this is happening when we are still facing the ravages of a global pandemic, an extractive economy that continues to dispose of people and the planet, and the increasing intensity of white supremacy and anti-democracy. These challenges are not isolated, but a part of a system that continues to marginalize, sicken, and kill the Black, Brown, and poor communities across the country — and the world.

As advocates and organizers fighting for climate justice and equity in Pennsylvania, we stand in solidarity with the frontlines of the Gulf South, who are facing the horrors and death of a toxic system that this winter storm is exacerbating. We stand in solidarity because they are our siblings. We stand in solidarity because our greatest concern is for the communities facing record freezing, power outages, and uncertainty, who are also the last to be supported in rebuilding and recovery. We stand in solidarity because the root causes of these challenges are also our root causes. 

Pennsylvania is not immune to environmental racism, a dirty energy grid, toxic air and water pollution, and  extractive economies from fossil fuels to prisons and detention centers. In fact, our Commonwealth is one of the largest exporters of fossil fuels, whose production has led to premature death, and home to the notorious Berks Detention Center where many climate refugees in the US find themselves being held. Climate denial is not a victimless crime, and lives are already being lost to climate-intensified extreme weather disasters. These events are tragic reminders that the fossil fuel industry must be held accountable for its role in the climate crisis, not rewarded at taxpayers’ expense. This is just as true for Pennsylvania as it is for the Gulf South. 

We are here to amplify the message of the Gulf South frontline communities and offer allies a way to move energy and resources.

The crisis of the Winter Storm is not a freak event: it is a direct result of community disinvestment, failed political leadership, and the unfettered reign of extractive economies. For example, extreme arctic temperatures have overtaken an aging fossil fuel power grid, knocking out power, transportation, and endangering food supply. In fact, 75% of the grid in Texas is fueled by dirty fossil fuels that poison the air, and now make the winters even more uncertain. Most of the power outages came overnight due to disrupted coal, oil, and gas plants. The power outages, lack of food, and undrinkable water is a humanitarian crisis that endangers sick, shut-in, elderly, and vulnerable communities. It has particularly impacted immigrants held in unjust detention centers in Dilley or Karnes, who have been left cold, without food, clean water, and access to vital care. 

Climate crises caused by human hyperactivity have unleashed extremes we don’t have plans for. Now is the time to push for care, climate, and restorative action that recognizes the existential threat our community is facing. 

Following the lead of the Gulf South for a Green New Deal – #GulfSouth4GND – we believe that we can dream and realize a world beyond fossil fuels, antiquated energy grids, and extractive practices. We can achieve a world that is healthy, just, and sustainable — but only if we act together, prioritizing frontline leadership. 

Further, we know that while the climate crisis impacts all of us, it bears unjust burdens and impacts on Black communities, particularly those who have long felt climate injustice in the South and Gulf South. We stand in solidarity with the Movement 4 Black Lives – #M4BL – as they advance a Red Black and Green New Deal – #RBGND-  calling for investments in Black communities and repairing past harms.

Together, we call on our elected leaders to make investments in new, fossil-free infrastructure to replace dirty fossil fuels holding our communities hostage and worsening the climate crisis as we speak. 

We call on a Green New Deal-style investment that is shaped by the frontlines, such as the #GulfSouth4GND policy platform and the Thrive Agenda, that can transform our economy, invest in climate-resilient infrastructure,  and create jobs prioritizing those most marginalized and impacted by our current system and harmed by environmental racism and poverty.  

And we invite our friends across Pennsylvania and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio River Valley to mobilize and marshal resources for rapid response mutual-aid to those who are struggling and suffering from this disaster. 

To support mutual aid funds and rapid response directly in Texas, please visit the TX Mutual Aid Directory and follow the @GulfSouth4GND and @M4BL channels on Twitter & Instagram for updated lists of where to donate and calls to volunteer. 

In Solidarity,

Alliance for Police Accountability


Center for Coalfield Justice

Make the Road PA

PA Stands Up

PA United

Pittsburgh United



  • Veronica Coptis

    Veronica Coptis joined the CCJ staff in March 2013 as a Community Organizer and is now serving as the Executive Director. She grew up in western Greene County near the Bailey Mine Complex and currently lives in the eastern part of the county. Before joining the CCJ staff, Veronica served on the Board of Directors for CCJ and organized with Mountain Watershed Association. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology from West Virginia University. She enjoys hiking and geocaching at Ryerson State Park and other areas around Greene County with her husband and daughters. Read more about Veronica in a New Yorker Magazine profile at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/03/the-future-of-coal-country. Contact Veronica at veronica@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org.

    View all posts
Shopping Cart