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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Already stressed by the threat of coronavirus and widespread unemployment, the United States has erupted into protests after the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, by a Minneapolis police officer. Now, prominent groups in the environmental movement — which has long struggled with a dark, racist past — are speaking out against institutional prejudice and calling for the movement to better prioritize social justice. “For too long conservation and environmental movements have not spoken up to address the long-standing challenges that non-white communities face,” Fred Krupp, the president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement. “Environmental organizations should work to bring down the barriers that affect Black, people of color, and Indigenous communities.” The League of Conservation Voters, Earthjustice, 350.org, and the Sierra Club also issued statements.
Black Americans are subjected to higher levels of air pollution than white Americans regardless of their wealth, researchers with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conclude. Researchers at the EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment looked at facilities emitting air pollution, as well as at the racial and economic profiles of surrounding communities. They found that black Americans were exposed to significantly more of the small pollution particles known as PM 2.5, which have been associated with lung disease, heart disease, and premature death. Most such sooty pollution comes from burning fossil fuels. Blacks were exposed to 1.54 times more of this form of pollution—particles no larger than 2.5 microns, that lodge in lung tissue—than the population at large. Poor people were exposed to 1.35 times more, and all non-whites to 1.28 times more, according to the study, published in the American Journal of Public Health.
By Staff of Food & Water Watch - WASHINGTON – New analysis published today details the disproportionate burdens of air and water contamination and serious human health effects placed on low-income communities of color by market-based pollution trading schemes. The report, from the advocacy organizations Food & Water Watch and Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, shows that under many of these plans – like California’s notorious “cap-and-trade” program – localized pollution and public health impacts actually increase in lower-income minority communities. Meanwhile, California Governor Jerry Brown was at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) last week, touting his state’s cap-and-trade program and urging European leaders to adopt similar policies. Elsewhere, political leaders in states throughout the country have publicly endorsed pollution trading plans or indicated interest in exploring them. Polluters have traditionally sited their facilities in lower-income communities of color, resulting in a disproportionate, localized environmental and public health burden.