Pennsylvania based asset manager, Vanguard, is the world’s second largest asset manager, with over $8 trillion in assets under management. Vanguard is referred to as a “universal owner,” with ownership stake in over 10,000 corporations. The financial institution dominates market environments and consequently has the ability to set industry norms. Asset managers have largely ignored calls for divestment from extractive industries. Asset managers, like Vanguard, have failed to include a robust racial and environmental justice orientation in their business practices. In turn, they flood extractive industries with capital. Industries like the carceral and fossil fuel industries use those investments to extract from low-income and BIPOC communities.
A new report NRDC published with partner groups today spotlights the enormous, often overlooked, and inequitable health and economic costs of climate change and air pollution from burning fossil fuels on the United States. This report, produced by the Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health, Wisconsin Health Professionals for Climate Action, and NRDC focuses on the frequently ignored but profound public health problems and costs linked to the climate crisis.
Canada - Spring has always been a time of renewal and hope. I’m filled with a sense of wonder and possibility as I watch new life sprout from the soil and cherry blossoms bloom along streets. But this spring, I feel a prevailing heaviness. For many of us, this season marks a year since COVID-19 restrictions were put in place. March 13 marked one year since Breonna Taylor was shot in her sleep by police in Louisville, Ky. As the season progresses, and as we pass through solemn anniversaries, I continue to be reminded of where we were a year ago. Last spring, the COVID-19 pandemic started to unmask the inequalities in society, with the virus disproportionately affecting racialized communities. Headlines were filled with stories of police violence as mass protests erupted around the world.
For more than half a century, 441 Bauchet Street has been the address where Los Angeles’ most stark social and environmental inequalities converge. It’s the location of L.A.’s Men’s Central Jail, the largest facility in the most populated county jail system in the country. On any given day, about 5,000 people are incarcerated there. A block south from the jail is the 101 freeway, one of the most traveled highways in America, which generates dangerous levels of air pollution linked to a slew of birth defects. A block east is the L.A. River, home to at least 20 different pollutants, from feces to oil, at levels that violate federal standards. Another 100 yards east is the SP Railyard and Union Pacific Transportation Center, which operate at all hours, receiving big rig diesel trucks that spew an estimated 40 tons of particulate matter into the air annually.
Earlier this year, political scientist and Black feminist Julia Jordan-Zachery asked the question, “What do Black women think about the rain?” She was sharing emergent questions from her research pertaining to Black women, not specifically related to environment studies. Her question echoed some of my own inquiries into the conversation between water, skies, fire, and the currents of Black life. Her question also posited that Black women, complex and disparate, observe and connect to the phenomena called nature. Jordan-Zachery presented a path into the brambled and verdant terrain of Black people’s wonder and delight in the natural world. Environmental scholar Carolyn Finney notes that “One of the biggest challenges for individuals whose work is considered ‘environmental’ is how quickly anything related to African Americans and the environment get designated as an ‘environmental justice’ concern.”
Chicago - Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) announced Tuesday he will join 10 hunger strikers fighting to block another polluter from receiving the city’s approval to operate on the Southeast Side. As the Pilsen alderman joined the strike, United Neighbors of the 10th Ward member Breanna Bertacchi, Southeast Youth Alliance founder Oscar Sanchez and George Washington High School teacher Chuck Stark wrapped up their 20th day without food. They’ll complete their third week Wednesday. The three initial strikers and eight others who have joined the fast in recent weeks are demanding the Chicago Department of Public Health deny an operating permit to Southside Recycling, a metal scrapper planned for 11600 S. Burley Ave. in East Side.
Washington, D.C. — American Indian and Alaska Native federally recognized Tribes and environmental groups, represented by Earthjustice, sued the Trump administration over its attempt to weaken clean water protections. The rule changes proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency would force states and Tribes to accept damaging and unwanted pipelines and other fossil fuel projects on their lands. The EPA reverses its long-standing interpretation of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act in a move that is contrary to the language, purpose, and intent of the statute.
While cities and towns across the United States are wrestling with the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, none have been hit harder than low-income and minority communities. Places like Detroit, Chicago, and St. James Parish in Louisiana, plagued by decades of economic inequality and pollution in impoverished neighborhoods, have experienced some of the country’s highest mortality rates from the virus. Recent studies have shown a link between high levels of pollution and an increased risk of death from Covid-19. Sacoby Wilson, an environmental health scientist at the University of Maryland, believes the coronavirus has cast a spotlight on largely unnoticed segments of society, from low-income people in polluted neighborhoods to residents of nursing homes and prisons, to workers in the nation’s meatpacking plants
Maxciel Pereira dos Santos, a veteran defender of Brazil’s indigenous people, has reportedly been shot dead in a remote Amazon town while riding his motorcycle. The BBC reports Santos was shot twice in the head while riding his motorcycle down the main street of Tabatinga, a Brazilian city near the border of Colombia and Peru, according to a statement issued this past weekend by the National Indian Foundation (INA), a union representing workers at Brazil’s indigenous protection agency, FUNAI. This incident happened on the evening of Friday September 6, according to Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo. Santos worked at FUNAI for the past 12 years, where he defended both contacted and uncontacted Brazilian tribes from miners, loggers, farmers, and anyone else seeking to seize land in the Amazon rainforest.
South African environmental justice advocates are suing the government to force it to clean up the air in the country’s Mpumalanga Highveld region. In the mid-1990s, South Africa’s post-apartheid government overhauled the nation’s constitution. Among the reforms, the country’s leaders adopted a bold, sweeping protection for the land and its people: the right to a healthy environment. Now, as scientists warn that all countries must take bold, sweeping action to avert the worst effects of a climate crisis, South African environmental justice advocates are testing that constitutional right. They are suing the government to force it to clean the dirty air that smothers South Africa’s Mpumalanga Highveld region.
Environmental justice activism is to this age what the workers’ movement was for the industrial age - one of the most influential social movements of its time. Yet, despite its consistent progress since the 1970s, environmental justice protests seem to get lost in the morass of information on broader environmental issues. In contrast, labour conflicts, including strikes and lock-outs, carry such gravity that the International Labour Organization tracks these on a systematic basis. As more communities are refusing to allow the destruction and contamination of their land, water, soil and air, these, in turn, deserve to be counted. The Environmental Justice Atlas (EJAtlas), an inventory of social conflicts around environmental issues, fills that gap.
Humvees with heavily armed county, state and federal agents rolled into what remained of the Oceti Sakowin protest camp in North Dakota in early 2017. With a U.S. Department of Homeland Security helicopter circling low overhead and heavy machinery preparing to topple anything in their path, the camp's last few holdouts torched their tipis and fled across the frozen Cannonball River to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The once-thriving camp had united thousands in their shared opposition to construction of a crude oil pipeline and raised hopes for a new era in tribal sovereignty. Its forced clearing on Feb. 23 came just two weeks after the Trump administration granted a final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross beneath the nearby Missouri River.
By Elizabeth Ouzts for Southeast Energy News - On September 15, 1982, high-profile protests over the siting of a toxic waste dump in Afton, North Carolina – an overwhelmingly African American town an hour northeast of Raleigh – set in motion a wave of reforms to prevent polluters from targeting people of color and the poor. Thirty-five years later, North Carolina advocates say the $5-billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline deserves its own place in the environmental-justice history books – a distinction they believe could be its undoing. “It deserves its own claim to shame,” said Therese Vick with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. Backed primarily by Duke Energy and Dominion Resources, the project would transport 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Marcellus Shale region to Virginia and North Carolina, hugging the I-95 corridor before ending in Robeson County. In all but one county along the pipeline’s 180-mile route in North Carolina, African Americans, Native Americans and those living in poverty make up a greater percentage of the population than the statewide average. More than a quarter of the state’s Native Americans live along the project’s path. Despite flagging 71 percent of the census tracts along the North Carolina pipeline route for ‘environmental justice concerns,’ federal regulators have given the project the green light – a move scores of groups are contesting.
By Mark Hand for Think Progress - The electric utility sector’s top lobbying group is teaming up with fossil fuel trade associations as part of an effort to intensify the industry’s campaign against citizen and environmental groups opposed to fracking and new natural gas pipelines. A senior official at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) said at a recent conference in Pittsburgh that her trade group has grown “very aware of the ‘Keep It in the Ground’ movement” as its member companies have become more reliant on natural gas. These activists are opposed to the extraction of all fossil fuels, not just coal, said Karen Obenshain, senior director of fuels, technology, and commercial policy, according to Matt Kasper, research director at the Energy and Policy Institute, who attended the conference. (Kasper worked at the Center for American Progress from 2012-2014. ThinkProgress is an editorially independent project of CAP.) From Keystone XL to Dakota Access to ongoing efforts to curtail oil and gas drilling, anti-fossil fuel activists caught the attention of energy companies and their representatives in Washington years ago. Aside from only a small number of victories, however, the activists have largely been unable to stop pipelines or slow down fracking. And yet the gas industry isn’t taking any chances; it wants to ensure its winning percentage remains strong.