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Nikki Cooley with local tribal environmental organizations speaks to Congress on climate justice

Nikki Cooley speaks to Flagstaff

Nikki Cooley, co-manager of Tribes and Climate Change Program and interim assistant director of the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, spoke to members of the House Select Committee on Climate Change during a virtual meeting on July 15.

As flooding highlighted Flagstaff in the national discourse around environmental action last week, one northern Arizona resident was speaking to Congress on the topic of climate change.

Nikki Cooley, co-manager of Tribes and Climate Change Program and interim assistant director of the institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, spoke to members of the House Select Committee on Climate Change during a virtual meeting on July 15. During the hearing, Cooley and other experts discussed issues of environmental justice and how they could be addressed through action on climate change.

Moreover, Cooley, a member of the Navajo Nation, spoke about the issues tribal communities across the country and here at home are having as the impacts of climate change continue to present themselves.

“On the Dine Navajo nation we are seeing the drastic impacts of the extreme aridification of our lands. My people have to haul water for their families, their livestock and their crops,” Cooley said. “Our nation has had to implement water rations, forcing families to make the hard decision to decrease or sell their livestock -- which is devastating for those who depend on them for money and for food.”

Cooley also spoke to the importance of tribal communities' inclusion in the effort to take action on climate change, and opportunity that presents for economic development on tribal lands.

She said tribal communities should be consulted with and benefit from climate action, such as programs to train tribal members in renewable energy industries.

“I am the daughter of someone who worked at the Peabody coalmine on the Navajo Reservation for over 30 years. I know all too well the need for a just transition to a sustainable economy that not only focuses on clean energy such as wind and solar, but builds adequate and sustainable infrastructure that will protect people and the environment but will also promote economic security,” Cooley told the committee.

Adrian Skabelund can be reached by phone at (928) 556-2261, by email at askabelund@azdailysun.com or on Twitter at @AdrianSkabelund. 

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