environmental racism

Still No Evacuation Plan for Vulnerable Residents at End of Louisiana’s Bayou Bridge Pipeline

Read time: 6 mins
Ethel M. Harris, a long-time resident of St. James, Louisiana

Sharon Lavigne and Geraldine Mayho took me to meet some of the most vulnerable members of their community, handicapped residents of St. James, Louisiana, who live near a terminal where the Bayou Bridge pipeline will end. “These people have no way of getting out if there is a spill or explosion,” Lavigne told me. She explained with only one road in and out of the area, if the pipeline fails or an industrial accident occurs, “we are all trapped back here.” 

New Orleans Approves Natural Gas Power Plant Despite Environmental Racism and Climate Concerns

Read time: 9 mins
Opponents of Entergy's proposed natural gas power plant pack the March 8 New Orleans City Council meeting

Despite hearing over four hours of public comments mostly in opposition, New Orleans City Council recently approved construction of a $210 million natural gas power plant in a predominantly minority neighborhood. Entergy is proposing to build this massive investment in fossil fuel infrastructure in a city already plagued by the effects of climate change. 

Choosing a gas plant over renewable energy options flies in the face of the city’s own climate change plan and the mayor’s support for the Paris Climate Accord, said several of the plant’s opponents at the heated meeting when City Council ultimately voted to approve the plant.

Storms Hit Poorer People Harder, From Superstorm Sandy to Hurricane Maria

Read time: 8 mins
Hurricane Sandy flooding houses in New York with an American flag

By Chris Sellers, Stony Brook University (The State University of New York)

The ferocious “frankenstorm” known as Sandy that ripped through greater New York City five years ago remains one for the record books. Like this year’s hurricane season, it racked up tens of billions of dollars in economic damages.

Superstorm Sandy had another close, yet underappreciated, similarity to this year’s hurricanes: less affluent groups of people suffered more, both in the initial damage and recovery.

Why Is a Dump for Hurricane Harvey Debris Next to an African American Community?

Read time: 10 mins
Port Arthur resident Tami Thomas-Pinkney and her daughter Trinity Handy, with a hurricane debris dump in the background

Tami Thomas-Pinkney’s house in Port Arthur, Texas, was not damaged when Hurricane Harvey soaked the city with up to 28 inches of rain on August 29. But now, a month and a half after the storm, she is preparing to move. Across the street from her family’s home is a temporary dumpsite for storm debris, which she says is endangering her family’s health and making her home unlivable. 

Countless trucks haul the debris —ruined building material ripped from storm-damaged homes and household belongings previously submerged in floodwater but now covered with mold — past her house. Each day they rattle down the streets around Thomas-Pinkney, dumping their loads about a hundred feet from her front porch. 

In Planned EPA Cuts, US to Lose Vital Connection to At-risk Communities

Read time: 5 mins
Government employees hold signs at a rally in support of the EPA

By Deborah Morrison and Nicole Smith Dahmen, University of Oregon

Recent headlines point to a relentless undoing of policy and process within the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Trump budget calls for slashing the EPA budget by an estimated 31 percent. Staff would be reduced by 25 percent and 50 programs could see cuts, such as ones designed to lower the health risks from lead paint.

In all likelihood, the first communities to feel effects of a dismantled EPA are those who consistently pay the biggest price when policy strays from being focused on people. It will be the indigenous people, the populations who live in poverty and at-risk communities — often populated by people of color — who typically feel the sharp cuts and public health effects first and fully.

'Biggest Oil Find' of 2016 Puts Crown Jewel Texas Oasis in Crosshairs for Fracking

Read time: 13 mins
Water birds land on Balmorhea Lake in West Texas

REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS — Travelers crossing the long stretch of arid desert spanning West Texas might stumble across an extraordinarily improbable sight — a tiny teeming wetlands, a sliver of marsh that seems like it should sit by the ocean but actually lays over 450 miles from the nearest coast.

This cienega, or desert-wetlands (an ecosystem so unusual that its name sounds like a contradiction), lies instead near a massive swimming pool and lake, all fed by clusters of freshwater springs that include the deepest underwater cave ever discovered in the U.S., stretching far under the desert's dry sands.

Famous as “the oasis of West Texas,” Balmorhea State Park now hosts over 150,000 visitors a year, drawn by the chance to swim in the cool waters of the park's crystal-blue pool, which is fed by up to 28 million gallons of water a day flowing from the San Solomon springs. The pool's steady 72 to 76 degree Fahrenheit temperatures make the waters temptingly cool in the hot Texas summer and surprisingly warm in the winter, locals say — part of the reason it's been called “the crown jewel of the desert.”

Environmental Concerns — and Anger — Grow in Month After Thousand-Year Flood Strikes Louisiana

Read time: 11 mins
Contents from a flooded home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, awaiting removal on Sept 9.

In the aftermath of the 1000-year flood that hit southern Louisiana in August, environmental and public health concerns are mounting as the waters recede.

Residents want to know why many areas that never flooded before were left in ruin this time, raising questions about the role water management played in potentially exacerbating the flood. The smell of mold lingers on streets where the contents from flooded homes and businesses are stacked in piles along the curbside, as well as in neighborhoods next to landfills where storm debris is taken.

The Color of Pollution: How Environmental Contamination Targets People of Color

Read time: 10 mins

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.

Time span for the new ordinance? Two decades. Ongoing environmental review? None. Public participation? Not allowed.

A Forgotten Community in New Orleans: Life on a Superfund Site

Read time: 1 min
Shannon Rainey

Shannon Rainey lives in a house that was built on top of a Superfund site in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

I bought my house when I was 25, and thirty years later, I still can't get out,” she told DeSmogBlog.

Rainey’s home in Gordon Plaza is part of a subdivision developed by the city in 1981 on top of the Agriculture Street landfill. No one disclosed to the buyers that their new homes were built on top of a dump that was closed in 1965.

Rainey has a view of two other city-owned properties also built on the landfill: the shuttered Morton Elementary School and Press Park, an abandoned housing project developed by the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO).

 “If it were white folks back here, this would be all gone,” Rainey says bluntly.

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