Y WESLEY MULLER
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GULFPORT — The Gulfport NAACP honored two Sierra Club members with Distinguished Justice Service Awards during Sunday night’s Freedom Fund Banquet.
Honored were Mississippi Sierra Club Director Louie Miller and prominent environmental attorney Robert Wiygul.
Both Miller and Wiygul played instrumental roles in reaching a landmark settlement agreement requiring the ceasing of burning coal at Gulfport’s Jack Watson plant and a Greene County, Ala., plant by 2015.
The Sierra Club, an environmental organization, and the NAACP joined forces to declare energy and climate change a civil rights issue.
“The NAACP is looking so far ahead with its climate justice program many organizations have a lot of catching up to do,” Wiygul said. “That’s something that we all — rich, poor, black, white, male, female, fat, thin — we’ve all got to work on it together.”
Miller said the Sierra Club waged a five-year battle against Mississippi Power’s Kemper County coal plant project, winning a settlement that brings $15 million in energy efficiency and clean energy investments to the state, sets the stage for homeowners to install solar power and requires power plants in Gulfport and Greene County to stop burning coal over the next 20 months.
“If there is no struggle there is no progress,” Miller said, quoting Frederick Douglass. “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet renounce controversy are people who want crops without plowing the ground.”