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Environmental racism

Barred From The Climate Conversation

When Kelo Uchendu prepared for this year’s Bonn Climate Change Conference (SB56), it had been three years since his previous application for the German visa was rejected. At the time, he was the only African student selected from a cohort of engineers to attend a career-advancing programme in Dresden. That visa rejection was costly and devastating, but he did not remain idle. He founded a climate justice organisation in his home country of Nigeria to advocate for clean air, began pursuing postgraduate studies and joined the organising team of Mock COP26. He would arrive in Bonn as the policy co-lead of the UNFCCC youth constituency knowing that his hard work has finally paid off.

Environmental Racism Leads To Water Crisis in Jackson, Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi - Residents of Jackson, Mississippi, a city of 150,000 that is 82.5 percent Black, have not had reliable access to clean water for five days. On Monday, the Pearl River flooded from extreme rainfall, and caused the main water treatment plant to fail, resulting in low to no water pressure. A second treatment plant has simultaneously been having issues with its water pumps. If residents are getting any tap water at all, it’s brown. All this is happening while Jackson is facing extreme heat. Residents have faced long lines in order to get cases of bottled water, of which the city is running out. All schools have switched to remote learning since Tuesday.

Residents In Majority-Black Jackson Left Without Drinkable Water

Reports reveal that people of color are especially impacted by environmental disasters. Jackson is 82.5% Black, and has been hit with multiple water crises in recent months. As of September 2, the vast majority of the residents of the city of Jackson, Mississippi—over 150,000—still have no access to safe drinking water. The Jackson water crisis began on August 30 when flooding caused the pumps at the main water treatment facility, O.B. Curtis, to fail. This left most residents without clean water and many with no water at all due to low water pressure. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves warned residents on August 31, “Do not drink the water from the pipes if you can avoid it.” 

Redlined Neighborhoods In Cities Across The US Saw More Oil Drilling

Roughly 17 million people in the U.S. live within a mile of an oil or gas well — putting them at higher risk of health problems like heart disease, breathing issues, anxiety and depression, and complications during pregnancy, a growing body of research shows. But all is not equal when it comes to who exactly lives near oil wells — and intentional racial discrimination in federal mortgage policies, reflected in a practice known as “redlining,” may have played a role, according to a new study published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology. There are nearly twice as many oil and gas wells in neighborhoods that were redlined in the 1930s, the study found. That pattern was visible in 33 cities across 13 states where oil and gas wells were drilled, and drilling in those neighborhoods intensified after the federal government issued redlining maps.

The UN’s Criminal Enterprise And Ecological Catastrophe In Haiti

When we consider the current ecological threat to the earth and its inhabitants, we cannot forget the outsized place of war and empire in exacerbating climate change and enabling environmental catastrophe. The ongoing United Nations occupation of Haiti provides an example. As does the introduction of a cholera epidemic by UN soldiers. Cholera is an extension of the totality of violence - material, political, and ecological – enacted by a presumably humanitarian peacekeeping mission.

Activists Shut Down A Pipeline — But Their Fight Isn’t Over

As the dust settles on their victory, the coalition of activists and community members that opposed the Byhalia Connection oil pipeline in greater Memphis, Tennessee — which developers officially canceled on July 2 — are continuing to mobilize, because they say a risk to the land, water, climate and community remains. In step with the cancellation, Plains All American Pipeline has requested state and federal agencies to revoke necessary permits for the Byhalia Connection — what would have been a 49-mile route connecting a refinery in Memphis to an oil terminal in northern Mississippi, running through a series of majority-Black neighborhoods in Tennessee. The pipeline was a joint venture between Plains and Valero Energy Corporation.

Activists Withhold Gas Bill Payment To Protest National Grid Pipeline

Environmentalist launched a gas bill strike Tuesday, pledging to withhold money from their monthly utilities in protest of National Grid’s controversial pipeline project beneath the streets of Brooklyn. “We will not pay for National Grid’s racist, dirty, North Brooklyn fracked gas pipeline. We will not pay for our communities and our climate to be destroyed,” said Lee Ziesche, an organizer with the activist group Sane Energy Project at a June 1 rally outside National Grid’s MetroTech Center headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn. The protest, organized by a coalition of environmentalist groups under the moniker No North Brooklyn Pipeline, called on New Yorkers to keep $66 from their gas bills, the average amount the company’s 1.9 million downstate customers will have to pay in rate hikes to fund almost $129 million in construction costs National Grid wants to recover through increased rates.

Who’s Paying The Human Costs Of Plastic Pollution?

All too often, the issue of plastic pollution is reduced to plastic straw bans led by clipboard-carrying college students, VSCO girls, and bracelets made with a promise of saving turtles. It conjures images of a wad of plastic grocery bags or perhaps a garbage island floating in the middle of the ocean somewhere. The problem is that plastic pollution isn’t just an issue of waste accumulation—plastics are also manufactured and often incinerated in communities where poor people and people of color are rarely consulted or alerted to the risks. Our communities are living this pollution every day and understand the connections between air, water, land, ocean, and human health in very personal and concrete ways.

Despite Climate Commitments, Health Concerns, States Approve Fuel Tanks

Magali Sanchez-Hall, usually in motion, pauses for a moment on the sidewalk to gaze through a chain-link fence at the massive new construction project: tanks shaped like giant tuna fish cans that will store crude oil. The Los Angeles refinery has been her troublesome neighbor for a quarter of a century, but she finds this latest turn particularly perplexing. “Right now, we are supposed to be moving to clean energy,” she says. Sanchez-Hall, 50, raised her children here before getting a master’s degree in public policy. When Tesoro, now Marathon Petroleum Corp., first proposed the new tanks in 2016, she opposed them, citing sickening fumes from the ones already there.

Six Ways Chevron Imperils Climate, Human Rights, And Racial Justice

Although we're barely one quarter into 2021, multiple forces are squeezing Chevron for the preventable harm it is inflicting on the global climate. The company is also being dragged for its greenwashing, its role in perpetuating racial injustice in the United States, and its violations of Indigenous peoples' rights and other human rights from Burma/Myanmar to Ecuador. The table is now set for Chevron's annual meeting in May, where several climate-related shareholder proposals will be on the agenda. Campaigners are calling for votes against both the board chair and the lead independent director on the basis of failures to oversee climate performance.

Black Communities Fight Racist And Polluting Pipeline Project

Black communities in Memphis, TN are leading a growing opposition campaign to the Byhalia Connection Pipeline, a proposed crude oil pipeline funded by the fossil fuel corporations Valero and Plains All American. Byhalia has yet to receive a crucial federal permit for the project, lacks local government approvals, and has not acquired all necessary easements for the pipeline route. Advocates argue that there is ample local authority to block the pipeline project. In an interview, Wyatt Price, a supervising land agent for Plains All American, said: “We took, basically, a point of least resistance” in reference to siting the project through Southwest Memphis, highlighting the concerns of locals who believe that they were targeted because of the racial and economic composition of the area.

Groups Call For Federal Investigation Of City Over Toxic Industry

The city of Chicago’s role helping General Iron move from affluent white Lincoln Park to a majority-Latino Southeast Side neighborhood to make way for the Lincoln Yards redevelopment violated federal fair housing laws and should be investigated, community groups say. The move is an example of years of unfair zoning and land-use practices that discriminate against Black and Latino residents while benefiting white neighborhoods that have seen their home values soar, the groups said in a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Wednesday.

EPA Postpones Environmental Justice Training

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will postpone training on environmental inequity faced by communities of color and low-income communities following a White House order calling for agencies to stop training involving what it described as "anti-American propaganda." Charles Lee, the EPA's senior policy adviser for environmental justice, told employees in an email that the department would postpone an event that was part of its speaker series on structural racism and environmental justice. 

Virginia’s Energy Kingpin Could Finally Face A Reckoning Over Race

Anti-poverty activist Rev. William Barber II denounced the compressor station as environmental racism in 2019, Dominion started running Facebook ads featuring video from a high school essay contest on civil rights that it had sponsored. Farrell’s role should “certainly be questioned” in the wake of the pipeline project, said Barber, a towering figure of the current civil rights movement.  “A company that would attempt to do all this to communities and put its customers through this kind of fight should be challenged in so many ways,” he said. “Racism is not just about symbolism, it’s about substance.” Meanwhile, the company plowed ahead with plans to build the compressor station ― until a federal court intervened in early 2020, overturning the permit because Dominion had failed to resolve questions about how emissions would affect Union Hill.  It had taken Union Hill activists five years to get redress from the courts.

‘Black Lives Matter’ Demonstrations Continue Long Quest For Environmental Justice

Kentucky—A month before thousands began marching here, day after day, to protest the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and a woman here named Breonna Taylor, a professor at the University of Louisville was a co-author on a study that identified another killer targeting Black lives: toxic pollutants. Along with race, crime and income, the research found that proximity to an industrial neighborhood in the city called Rubbertown had a major effect on life expectancy, accounting for as much as three quarters of a 10- to 12-year reduced life expectancy in poor and mostly Black neighborhoods, compared to richer, white neighborhoods. Among the demonstrators, demands for racial justice in policing and environmental justice quickly merged in Louisville, a city with a history of environmental injustice as striking as any in America.
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