By Ramon Jacobs-Shaw for Health Affairs Blog – Access to clean, safe, and affordable drinking water is not just a concern of developing countries but of communities in our own backyard. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North and South Dakota, for instance, relies on Lake Oahe, a 231-mile reservoir along the Missouri River, as its primary water source. In July 2016, the US Army Corps of Engineers approved the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a 1,172-mile duct that will carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois when completed, which will run underneath the Missouri River less than a mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, including through the tribe’s sacred, ancestral lands. Given concerns about having oil-related infrastructure near major water sources, especially after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 (the largest oil spill in US waters), members of the tribe have been vigorously defending their rights to safe, clean water. Their struggle has caught the attention of major advocacy organizations around the world and indigenous tribes in other nations. After a brief reprieve in December 2016 when the Obama administration blocked further construction of the DAPL…
By Richard Raber for Daily Maverick – Videos depicting the senseless murders of unarmed people of colour have given birth to a new social movement, #BlackLivesMatter, while bringing to light a reality incomprehensible to white communities; the lives of people of colour have systemically been deemed disposable. To collectively realise the inherent value of black life we must think locally and globally, symbolically and institutionally. One realm to address these concerns in is that of environmental racism.
By Larry Buhl for Desmog – With about 42,000 active wells, Kern County, California is home to three-quarters of California’s oil drilling and 95 percent of the state’s hydraulic fracturing (fracking) activity. This mainly rural region is the largest oil-producing county in the U.S. The influence of oil and gas is so great here that in late 2015 the county board of supervisors approved a new ordinance to allow drilling permits for tens of thousands of new wells to be fast tracked.
By Kendra Pierre-Louis for Inside Climate News – “My dream,” said Ben Eaton, one of the roughly 3,000 people who live in the working-class, mostly African-American hamlet of Uniontown, Alabama, “was to grow up, get married, build my own home, and just live life comfortably.” It all worked out—except for the comfort. That part of his dream, says Eaton, was buried by a landfill. His dream home is now less than three miles from the Arrowhead landfill, which has filled his life with noise, an acrid smell and now, a lawsuit that followed when he complained about it.
By Staff of RAHC – You know us and you know our stories. You know our tragedies, our disasters, and our peril – Katrina, Rita, the BP oil disaster, oh, and that Shell oil spill just the other day. Not to mention, we’re losing a football field of wetlands an hour in Louisiana caused by the combined impact of oil and gas infrastructure and sea level rise due to climate change, eroding our first line of defense from increasingly strong storms. We are the frontline, grassroots communities of the Gulf Coast resisting the continued extraction of our land and our waters. And, we refuse to be a sacrifice zone for this country any longer.
By Mark Hand for Counterpunch. A Prince George’s County, Md., community is more than two-thirds African American, but the coalition of residents rallying against the construction of new power plants in the area is more than two-thirds white. Mike Ewall, founder and director of the Energy Justice Network, a national support group for grassroots community groups fighting polluting energy plants, cites a phenomenon he calls “involvement disparity” for the dominance of whites in certain civic matters. In communities across the United States, white residents, perhaps due to racism, often are the first people notified about potentially controversial projects, leading to them becoming involved in the battles earlier than people of color. Black residents also are resisting the Prince George’s County plants, “so it’s not an all-white group by any means,” Ewall stressed. “But it is more white people than you would expect given the demographics of the area.”
By Linda Snider for Black Westchester. Westchester, NY – In November, 2015, tree cutters and huge flatbed trucks began rolling through northern Westchester communities—Peekskill, Montrose, Cortlandt. These communities were soon to be changed—and not for the better. The tree cutters are contracted by Spectra Energy, a billion-dollar Texas-based pipeline company. Their mission: to clear ground for the Algonquin Incremental Market Pipeline (AIM), a project that would expand a pipeline carrying fracked gas from Pennsylvania through northern Westchester and on to Boston. One of the numerous problems: this huge pipeline will carry methane (“natural gas”) within a few hundred feet of the Indian Point nuclear facility.
By United Workers. Residents of South Baltimore filed a notice of intent to sue a New York-based developer over plans to build what would be the largest trash-burning incinerator in the U.S. Many residents of the Curtis Bay, Brooklyn, and Brooklyn Park neighborhoods closest to the incinerator site – including a student-led organization called Free Your Voice – are fighting the proposed 4,000-ton-per-day trash burning incinerator because of the air pollution that it would add to a neighborhood already suffering from toxic air emissions. “The incinerator would add more brain damaging lead and mercury to my community which is already the most polluted in the state,” said Destiny Watford, Curtis Bay resident and leader with Free Your Voice. “This would violate our basic human right to live in a healthy community.”
By Amanda Starbuck for Center for Effective Government. The Center for Effective Government released a new report and interactive map to coincide with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The report demonstrates that the struggle for social justice is far from over. Across the country people of color and the poor are disproportionately impacted by chemical facility hazards, and in many areas, the amount of inequality is profound. We mapped all 12,000+ facilities reporting to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Risk Management Program (RMP). These facilities use large enough amounts of extremely hazardous chemicals that they must submit risk and response plans to the EPA. Communities near these facilities face the greatest danger from a toxic chemical release or explosion and are often exposed to toxic emissions on a daily basis. We compared the demographics of people living within one mile of these dangerous facilities to the rest of the population. The results are stark.
By Staff for Popular Resistance – Gulf South Rising (GSR) is a coordinated regional movement created to highlight the impact of the global climate crisis on the Gulf South region (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida). Through collaborative actions and events around strategic dates in 2015, like the 5-year commemoration of the BP Oil Crisis and the 10-year commemoration of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, GSR demands a just transition away from extractive industries, discriminatory policies, and unjust practices that hinder equitable disaster recovery and impede the development of sustainable communities. Gulf South Rising recognizes the roots of the environmental and climate crisis, it “acknowledges that the global climate crisis is rooted in economic theories that promote mass consumption of limited resources, laws that maintain inequity, and social hierarchies and governance processes that limit civic participation.”
By Rodrigo Romo for the Guardian – Earlier this summer, two weeks after California’s first-ever hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, regulations went into effect, my family filed a lawsuit against Governor Jerry Brown and California Oil and Gas Supervisor Steve Bohlen. We are challenging the regulations for illegally discriminating against students of color by permitting wells that are disproportionately close to the schools they attend. There are 45 fracked wells within a mile and a half of my daughter’s junior high school. At Sequoia Elementary School, which she attended for years, there are three separate fracked wells within a half-mile of the school, and one that is just 1,200 feet from the school. Shortly after fracking began near her school, my youngest daughter began to suffer from unexplainable epileptic attacks.