Earlier this month the Biden Administration, along with high ranking democrats including Senate Majority Leader, Charles Schumer, and former House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, as well as a slew of acolytes representing centrist environmental organizations, celebrated the one-year signing of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) at the White House. It was a curious time to celebrate an ostensible climate bill during a summer of cataclysmic events fueled by runaway climate change including deadly and crippling heatwaves, wildfires that blanketed major cities with toxic smoke, and the annihilation of Lahaina, Maui.
Chester, Pennsylvania — When Zulene Mayfield testifies next week against plans to build a $6.8 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in her Pennsylvania hometown, she will be facing off against some of the most powerful fossil fuel interests in the United States. As co-founder of the community group Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living, Mayfield has spent years fighting to protect her majority Black and low-income city from the pollution spewed by the nearby Covanta waste-to-energy facility — the country’s largest waste incinerator. Now she finds herself pitted against a new confluence of forces — a lobbying effort by a fossil fuel complex stretching from her state’s Marcellus Shale gas fields to the boardrooms of European energy companies.
August 29 will mark the 18th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history, which devastated much of the Gulf Coast (specifically Louisiana and Mississippi) and disproportionately struck New Orleans. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states that this Category 4 hurricane caused at least $108 billion in structural damage, leading to more than one million people being displaced, many permanently, especially the poor and people of color. According to livescience.com, an estimated 1,833 people died in the hurricane and the flooding that followed. (Aug. 27, 2015) That flooding, mainly caused by broken levees, overwhelmed the Ninth Ward, a predominant working-class Black neighborhood in New Orleans.
Support for the Russia/Ukraine war is experiencing a precipitous decline according to polls of United Statesians taken at the war’s one year mark in February. In fact, whereas 60 percent of those polled in May 2022 supported sending weapons to Ukraine, the February poll reveals support for the US military’s munificence plummeted to an all-time low of 48 percent. Moreover, the same poll demonstrated that less than 40% of United Statesians favor sending any government funds to Ukraine. There are myriad reasons for waning support for this war, one of them is likely associated with the price tag. According to estimates, in just a little more than one year, President Biden has approved largess of the U.S. tax payer in the sum of $115 billion.
New York City - Harlem families and grassroots community groups gathered Jan. 28 on West 145th St. and Lenox Ave. in Harlem to protest the operations of a truck stop, which they say was opened in retaliation for their rejection of a gentrification project known as “One45.” Several rally speakers condemned the luxury real estate developer and former aide to Rudy Giuliani, Bruce Teitelbaum, for poisoning the community and worsening existing environmental issues, causing high rates of asthma and respiratory issues in children. The battle between the predominantly poor and working-class Black community and Teitelbaum began last year, when he proposed “One45,” a $700-million luxury high-rise residential complex that included only a small percentage of so-called “affordable” apartments. These units required a minimum household income of $112,000 to rent, whereas the median household income for the immediate area where One45 was slated to be built is only $36,804.
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.
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.
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.”
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.