Pollution and Environmental Justice

A new study finds something entirely unsurprising, that African-Americans are more likely to be affected by the pollution from the oil and gas industry. Anyone who has ever looked at the locations of power plants, coal ash ponds and the like could have told you that.


The report, issued by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People civil rights group and the Clean Air Task Force, said more than a million African-Americans live within half a mile (0.8 km) of an oil and gas operation, and more than 6.7 million live in a county that is home to a refinery.

“African-Americans are exposed to 38 percent more polluted air than Caucasian Americans, and they are 75 percent more likely to live in fence-line communities than the average American,” the report said, referring to neighborhoods adjacent to industrial facilities.

“In the current regulatory environment, the disproportionate burden of pollution will only increase for low-income communities and communities of color,” the report added.

This has long been an issue raised by the environmental justice movement. Lead paint and water pipes, the siting of power plants, polluted wells and much more — all of these are more likely to affect poor and minority communities. The wealthy and the middle class can escape these dangers by moving to the suburbs, installing water filters, that kind of thing. And now we have Trump dismantling even the limited environmental protections we had in place. Why not? It doesn’t affect him at all, it only affects poor, dark people.

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