TRUMP SHUTTING OUT COMMUNITIES OF COLOR
On the same day Trump gassed protesters demanding to be heard over racial injustices, he pushed forward a little-known rule change that would silence communities of color unfairly burdened by pollution.
For 50 years, a bedrock environmental law has ensured communities of color can have a say on projects that impact their communities. Now, Trump is trying to silence them.
- On the same day gas canisters were used to clear protesters outside the White House, Trump moved forward with a rule change to rubberstamp the construction of pipelines and other harmful projects without public input from the community and environmental review.
- Days later, Trump signed another executive order to waive environmental safeguards that give communities of color a voice in large-scale construction projects that impact their area’s pollution.
- Trump’s rollbacks would make it more difficult for the public to participate in the public comment process, allow conflicts of interests in environmental reviews, and give companies free rein to ignore harmful impacts of polluting projects.
- Together, these changes would shut out the voices of people standing up for clean air and clean water in their communities, especially people of color who are most affected by polluters.
- Undermining public input silences communities of color as they have been historically excluded from decisions about major polluting projects in their own neighborhoods.
- Local community-based environmental justice advocates said these changes would be “devastating to our communities” and called it a “sham public process.”
- Mustafa Santiago Ali: “It shows again that they have no respect for the lives in these communities that are already overburdened.”
- Environmental justice advocates have long relied on the environmental review process to get their voices heard in projects that affect their community.
- Native Americans stopped the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline from moving forward.
- Richmond, VA residents blocked a pipeline compressor station that would have been harmful to health conditions in a largely Black community.
- In 2007, the environmental review process allowed advocates to save over 282 homes and businesses from displacement in Atlanta’s low-income and minority-heavy northwest corridor.
- In 2008, officials at Customs and Border Patrol waived the environmental review process to build a five-foot concrete border wall in a storm drain, which later caused a flood that destroyed 578 homes, 45 cars, and caused $8 million in damages.
People of color are already more exposed to pollution & related health impacts.
- The American Lung Association warns that people of color “experienced higher risks of harm, including premature death, from exposure to air pollution.”
- Hispanics and African Americans are exposed to particulate air pollution at much higher rates than Whites.
- Nonwhite populations are also exposed to 37% more Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), which has been associated with an increased risk for asthma.
- African American children were found to be four times more likely to be hospitalized and ten times more likely to die from asthma.
- In Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley,” Black communities face a 16% higher risk of cancer than White communities, and low-income communities face a 12% higher risk than high-income communities.
- As we saw in Newark, Milwaukee, Flint, and elsewhere, lead contamination of drinking water supplies disproportionately affects African American neighborhoods.
People of color are already hit hardest by climate change.
- The CDC has found that African Americans die at higher rates from heat-related illnesses.
- Hurricanes Harvey and Katrina made it clear that flooding from hurricanes and severe weather disproportionately harms Black neighborhoods.
- The Shriver Center on Poverty and Law wrote: “While natural disasters do not discriminate, their long-term impact disproportionately falls on low-income communities of color.”
Trump is focused on rewarding fossil fuel executives, not supporting people of color.
- Trump claims this is about jobs, but a recent study shows that jobs from polluting facilities don’t go to the people of color who are harmed by them. When comparing pollution and employment data, researchers found:
- African Americans get 17.4% of the pollution exposure risk, but only 10.8% of the jobs at polluting facilities.
- Hispanic communities get 15% of the pollution exposure risk, but only 9.8% of the jobs at polluting facilities.
- With petroleum and coal products manufacturing, pollution exposure is borne by African Americans and Hispanics at more than double their share of jobs.
- Trump wants to make it easier for fossil fuel companies to avoid scrutiny and has made it clear that his rule changes are aimed at getting fossil fuel pipelines approved.
- Trump is being dishonest about using an emergency to do the oil industry’s bidding.
- BP was lobbying Trump in 2018 over limiting environmental reviews.
- Throughout his administration and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump has made it clear that rewarding fossil fuel executives has been his top priority. See here for more details on Trump helping out the fossil fuel industry in the Climate Power 2020 research hub: https://climatepower.us/resources/pro-polluter-pandemic-priorities/
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
For 50 years, a bedrock environmental law has ensured that communities of color can have a say on projects that impact their communities. The National Environmental Policy Act requires government agencies to conduct an environmental review process that seeks input from communities who will be affected by major government projects or permitting decisions.
Now, Trump is trying to silence the voices of communities who will be affected.
On the same day that gas canisters were used to clear protesters outside the White House, Trump moved forward with finalizing changes to the environmental review process that were initially floated earlier in the year. Later that same week, Trump also signed another executive order to waive environmental safeguards.
Trump’s rule changes would make it more difficult for communities to participate in the public comment process. In fact, some projects wouldn’t even have to go through an environmental review at all thanks to Trump’s rule changes. Trump’s changes would open the door to industry to write its own reviews by giving contractors greater involvement in drafting environmental impact statements.
Limits would be placed on what information even needs to be considered, and environmental review would be arbitrarily limited in terms of the amount of time a project can be studied before it is approved.
Together, these changes would shut out the voices of people standing up for clean air and clean water in their communities, especially people of color who are most affected by polluters. Undermining public input silences communities of color as they have been historically excluded from decisions about major polluting projects in their own neighborhoods.
Local community-based environmental justice advocates said these changes would be “devastating to our communities” and called it a “sham public process.” Mustafa Santiago Ali said: “It shows again that they have no respect for the lives in these communities that are already overburdened.”
Environmental justice advocates have long relied on the environmental review process to get their voices heard in projects that affect their community. Native Americans stopped the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline from moving forward, Richmond, VA residents blocked a pipeline compressor station that would have been harmful to health conditions in a largely Black community, and in 2007, the environmental review process allowed advocates to save over 282 homes and businesses from displacement in Atlanta’s low-income and minority-heavy northwest corridor.
In an example of what happens when environmental reviews are skipped, officials at Customs and Border Patrol waived the environmental review process to build a five-foot concrete border wall in a storm drain, which later caused a flood that destroyed 578 homes, 45 cars, and caused $8 million in damages.
People of color are already more exposed to pollution & related health impacts. The American Lung Association warns that people of color “experienced higher risks of harm, including premature death, from exposure to air pollution.”
Hispanics and African Americans are exposed to particulate air pollution at much higher rates than Whites. One study found communities of color in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic breath 66% more air pollution from vehicle exhaust. This kind of particulate air pollution (PM2.5) from power plants and vehicle exhaust has been linked to higher death rates from COVID-19.
Nonwhite populations are also exposed to 37% more Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), which has been associated with an increased risk for asthma. African American children were found to be four times more likely to be hospitalized and ten times more likely to die from asthma.
In Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley,” an area of concentrated petrochemical plants, Black communities face a 16% higher risk of cancer than White communities, and low-income communities face a 12% higher risk than high income communities.
It’s not just unhealthy air that communities of color are exposed to. As we saw in Newark, Milwaukee, Flint, and elsewhere, lead contamination of drinking water supplies disproportionately affects African American neighborhoods.
People of color are also already hit hardest by the effects of climate change. The CDC has found that African Americans die at higher rates from heat-related illnesses. Hurricanes Harvey and Katrina also made it distressingly clear that flooding from hurricanes and severe weather cause by climate change disproportionately harms Black neighborhoods. The Shriver Center on Poverty and Law wrote: “While natural disasters do not discriminate, their long-term impact disproportionately falls on low-income communities of color.”
Trump claims this move to change the rules is about jobs, but a recent study shows that jobs from polluting facilities don’t go to the people of color who are harmed by them. When comparing pollution and employment data, researchers found that African Americans get 17.4% of the pollution exposure risk, but only 10.8% of the jobs at polluting facilities. Likewise, Hispanic communities get 15% of the pollution exposure risk, but only 9.8% of the jobs at polluting facilities.
The study found that when looking specifically at the petroleum and coal products manufacturing sectors, pollution exposure is borne by African Americans and Hispanics at more than double their share of jobs.
Ultimately, Trump’s rule change is not for the benefit of lifting people up through job creation. Trump is being dishonest about using an emergency to do the oil industry’s bidding. In fact, this is something that BP lobbied for in 2018. The real reason behind all of this is that Trump wants to make it easier for fossil fuel companies to avoid scrutiny. Trump has made it clear that his rule changes are aimed at getting fossil fuel pipelines approved and is changing the rules to ignore warnings about climate change as agencies would no longer consider the cumulative environmental impacts when assessing a project.
Trump is focused on rewarding fossil fuel executives. Throughout his administration and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump has made it clear that rewarding fossil fuel executives has been his top priority. See here for more details on Trump helping out the fossil fuel industry in the Climate Power 2020 research hub: https://climatepower.us/resources/pro-polluter-pandemic-priorities/
BEDROCK ENVIRONMENTAL LAW ENSURES COMMUNITIES OF COLOR CAN HAVE A SAY
Background On The National Environmental Policy Act
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Is A Bedrock Environmental Law That Requires Federal Agencies To Assess The Environmental Impacts Of Certain Actions. According to the Harvard University Environmental & Energy Law program: “In 1969, Congress enacted the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of certain proposed actions. It can be thought of as a ‘look before you leap’ law. NEPA quickly became part of the bedrock of U.S. environmental law and a guarantee that the government will consider potential consequences and alternatives before it acts. Under NEPA, federal agencies must perform an environmental review for each proposed ‘major federal action.’ Major actions include permit decisions, adoption of agency policy, formal planning, agency projects, and other actions. The environmental review process may involve consultation and collaboration with other expert agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NEPA provides transparency by requiring that draft reviews be publicly disclosed and open for public comment. The final environmental reviews can be challenged in court, allowing for accountability.” [Harvard University Environmental & Energy Law Program, 8/15/2018]
The National Environmental Policy Act Is Credited For Having “Democratized Decisionmaking” On Government Actions. In a 2010 report for the Environmental Law Institute, Russell Train, the first chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality and one of the architects of NEPA, wrote: “It is fair to say that NEPA brought the environment front and center to federal agencies, and that this can be deemed a success brought about, in no small part, by the many federal employees and citizens who have applied the law over these decades. It also opened up the federal decision making process. No longer could federal agencies say “we know best” and make decisions without taking environmental consequences into account. Nor could they simply pick one outcome or project and deem all others unworthy of consideration. NEPA democratized decisionmaking. It recognized that citizens, local and state governments, Indian tribes, corporations, and other federal agencies have a stake in government actions—and often unique knowledge of hazards, consequences, and alternatives that can produce better decisions […] NEPA’s legacy is that what the people know has great value to a government that seeks their knowledge and takes it seriously.” [Environmental Law Institute, 8/2010]
NEPA Was Passed By A Bipartisan Congress And Signed Into Law In 1970 By President Nixon. According to Washington Post: “NEPA was passed by a bipartisan Congress and signed into law by a Republican president, Richard Nixon, in 1970 ‘to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans.’” [Washington Post, 2/25/2020]
NEPA Is Considered “The Magna Carta Of Environmental Laws,” Requiring Federal Agencies To Analyze The Environmental Impacts Of Thousands Of Projects Every Year. According to Washington Post: “It is considered the Magna Carta of environmental laws, imitated around the globe by nations hoping to protect public health as well as plants and animals. NEPA requires federal agencies to analyze thousands of projects every year — roads that slice through neighborhoods, oil drilling on public lands, projects to dig for minerals, and seismic testing for offshore oil deposits and building wind turbines.” [Washington Post, 2/25/2020]
Environmental Reviews Are An Important Way For People Of Color To Protect Their Communities
Stephanie Griffith: “NEPA Has Been A Game Changer For Many Communities Seeking A Voice.” In an Op-Ed to CNN, Stephanie Griffith wrote: “Signed by President Richard Nixon in January 1970, NEPA has been a game changer for many communities seeking a voice. Its passage marked a major breakthrough for environment fairness and community justice. Now, President Donald Trump is looking to roll back those protections. The administration says it is looking to “modernize” the law, but environmentalists and communities fear that the planned changes will also include new limits on public input. Before NEPA, federal infrastructure dollars were used to raze vulnerable communities, particularly communities of color, which were given no say in the matter.” [CNN Stephanie Griffith Op-Ed, 1/16/2020]
Grist: “Low-Income Communities Of Color Across The Country Have Long Invoked” The National Environmental Policy Act In Their Fight Against Major Projects That Would Damage The Environment. According to Grist: “Low-income communities of color across the country have long invoked NEPA to fight major projects that would damage the environment, threaten public health, and occupy indigenous lands. Recently, activists were able to leverage NEPA to throw up significant roadblocks to the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.” [Grist, 3/9/2020]
- Bedrock Environmental Legislation Saved Over 282 Homes And Businesses From Displacement In Atlanta’s Low-Income And Minority-Heavy Northwest Corridor. According to Protect NEPA, in 2007 Georgia’s Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration proposed to “expand I-75 and I-575 in the Atlanta metropolitan area’s Northwest Corridor to alleviate traffic congestion.” The proposed expansion would have significantly impacted the low income communities and communities of color that surrounded the highways, but the community proposed changes under the NEPA process that ended up reducing the number of homes and businesses being displaced from 300 to 18: “Instead of adding new lanes, GDOT’s final designed plan called for the conversion of the existing medians and road space on I-75 into reversible HOV traffic lanes. This simple change minimized adverse effects on low-income and minority communities by reducing the number of residences and businesses displaced by the project from over 300 to 18.” [Protect NEPA, 3/23/2018]
- The Act Allowed Latinx Community Members In Texas To Participate In The Decision-Making Process Of Proposed Federal Actions. According to Grist: “Yvette Arellano has fought for years against the oil, gas, and petrochemical infrastructure that has inundated her home state of Texas. […] Arellano, a political analyst for Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, has led several campaigns over the years to fight the industry’s expansion in the Lone Star State — and she credits a significant amount of her success to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a law that requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of proposed federal actions, including the construction of major highways, airports, and pipelines. Passed in 1969, NEPA allowed Arellano and many other community advocates in oil-friendly states like Texas to participate in the decision-making process of major projects.” [Grist, 3/9/2020]
- The Act Allowed Los Angelenos To Propose More Environmentally-Friendly Alternatives To 710 Freeway Expansion Plans. According to Grist: “Taylor Thomas, who was raised two blocks away from the 710 freeway in Long Beach, was playing outside her home when she had her first asthma attack at 7 years old. […] The 710 freeway, which stretches from Long Beach to East Los Angeles, has been dubbed the ‘diesel death zone’ because of the massive amount of diesel emitted from freight trucks, ships, trains, and industrial facilities that blanket the busy corridor, which culminates in one of the country’s busiest ports. For over a decade, Los Angeles County leaders have pushed for a major project to expand the freeway, despite residents’ concerns about displacement and pollution. Thomas and others in the Long Beach area invoked NEPA in response and were able to force the consideration of various project alternatives that focused on sustainable architecture that could limit displacement, in lieu of the highway expansion. […] In the end, Los Angeles County transportation officials did an about-face and halted the 710 expansion project. Thomas’s victory might not have been possible if Trump’s revisions had been in effect at the time of her fight: The proposed rollback would limit the consideration of project alternatives, with stricter language stipulating that such alternatives must be “technically and economically feasible.” [Grist, 3/9/2020]
- The Act Allowed African American Communities In The South To Push Against Projects That Would Have Contributed Greatly To Climate Change. According to Grist: “McClain, now 70, has leveraged NEPA to rally her community and call for public hearings on controversial infrastructure projects. For decades, she spoke out against polluting industries and became known as an environmental justice pioneer. Most recently, she’s been working to push against a major project to expand the Port of Savannah, another of the country’s busiest seaports. Cargo ships are a significant source of global air pollution, and the expansion’s impact on increasing greenhouse gas emissions — and its contribution to climate change — was at the core of the opposition. ‘Had it not been for NEPA, we would have totally been excluded from the discussion and the environmental assessment process, and we would not have been able to mobilize residents,” McClain told Grist. ‘We were able to get the voices of local neighborhoods, which we call the ‘environmental injustice communities.’” [Grist, 3/9/2020]
Trump’s Efforts To Advance The Keystone XL Pipeline Have Been Thwarted By Native Americans Insisting On A Proper Environmental Review. In May of 2020, CBS News reported: “Mr. Trump campaigned on a promise to revive the pipeline, and he issued a permit for its construction just weeks into his presidency. But more than three years later, the pipeline is still stalled. A federal judge in Montana last month blocked construction, saying the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ environmental review was not sufficient. The Trump administration is appealing the judge’s ruling. Tribal leaders and residents in communities along the pipeline’s route have also expressed concerns that resuming construction with thousands of workers could spread coronavirus.” [CBS News, 5/19/2020]
Richmond, VA Residents Blocked A Pipeline Compressor Station That Would Have Been Harmful To Health Conditions In A Largely Black Community. On January 7, 2020, The Hill reported: “A federal appeals court rejected a needed permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Tuesday, the latest legal blow to the controversial pipeline as it heads to the Supreme Court through another case. The unanimous decision from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., was a victory for Union Hill, a community founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. Residents challenged Dominion Energy’s plans to build a gas-powered compressor station for the pipeline in the community, arguing the project would lead to poor health conditions for the largely Black community.” [The Hill, 1/7/2020]
Environmental Reviews Have Helped Ensure Native American Communities Were Able To Provide Input On Projects Affecting Their Communities. According to a March 2020 press release from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works: “U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are urging the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to reverse course on its proposed rule that would weaken the application of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), warning that the proposal would greatly inhibit concerns and input from American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. ‘Following centuries of systemic marginalization in this country, NEPA requirements have helped to make progress in ensuring that AI/AN communities are able to provide input on projects that affect their communities. Instead of fostering more participation in the federal decision-making process, CEQ’s proposal would limit tribal input in decisions that directly impact their homelands,’ the senators wrote in a letter sent to CEQ yesterday.” [Press Release, U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, 3/10/2020]
Environmental Reviews Led To Large Reduction In Noise Pollution For Impacted Communities In Charlotte, NC. According to the Environmental Impact Assessment (which is mandated under NEPA) of the Charlotte Blue Line Extension, the process of consulting the community resulted in alterations to the project that significantly reduced noise pollution in the EJ communities affected by development of the rail line. According to the report, noise pollution qualified as an equity concern “due to the intensity of the impacts and disproportionate as no residential noise impacts would occur outside of minority and low-income communities of concern.” The Charlotte area Transit System (CATS) amended the design of the project to include “an automated friction modifier, noise barriers, sound insulation, specially-engineered track work and vibration isolation treatments.” [Charlotte Area Transit System, “Final Environmental Impact Statement,” 8/29/11]
What Happens When Communities Don’t Have A Say
In 2008, US Customs & Border Patrol Waived Community Review Required Under The Law To Build A 5-Foot Concrete Border Wall In A Storm Drain, Which Later Caused A Flood That Destroyed 578 Homes, 45 Cars, And Caused $8 Million In Damages. According to Protect NEPA, “During a 2008 construction push, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), without informing Mexico, built a 5-foot concrete barrier inside a storm-water tunnel that undocumented migrants used to move between Nogales, Sonora, and Nogales, Arizona, effectively creating an underground dam. Citing its authority under the “Real ID Act of 2005,” the Department of Homeland Security waived environmental review for the project under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). That July, monsoon rains flooded eight feet deep on the streets of Nogales, Sonora, buckling roads, destroying 578 homes, 45 cars, and causing $8 million in damages. Two people drowned. The flooding caused a total of $8 million in damage and state officials declared the damaged part of the city a disaster zone. Adding insult to injury, it turned out that the barrier was built on the Mexican side of the border and was constructed without notifying the International Boundary and Water Commission, according to agency spokesperson said Sally Spener. The commission requests that any agency doing work on the border that could affect storm drainage send it plans. […] The flooding was later found to be linked to the storm drain that CBP had installed earlier that year, which had effectively created an underground dam. All of this is to say that: 1) arbitrarily waiving environmental laws like NEPA is anathema to responsible planning; and, 2) government actions have historically had serious, often unanticipated consequences that deserve a fair accounting.” [Protect NEPA, 2/6/2019]
NOW, TRUMP IS TRYING TO SILENCE THEM
Assaults On People Wanting To Be Heard
On June 1, 2020, OC Gas Was Used To Clear Protesters From Lafayette Square Near The White House. On Wednesday, June 3, 2020, WUSA 9 reported “United States Park Police said Tuesday they did not use tear gas to clear protesters from Lafayette Square before President Donald Trump left the White House for a photo opp on the grounds that hundreds had just occupied at St. John’s Church. The law enforcement that cleared the area did use a type of gas that produces similar symtpoms as tear gas, called Oleoresins Capiscum, or ‘OC’ for short. The specific product used is a CM Skat Shell made by Defense Technology that ‘is widely used as a crowd management tool for the rapid and broad deployment of chemical agent,’ according to the company’s website. The OC gas causes the same tears and tight breath as tear gas, and comes out green. A paper in the British Medical Journal about riot control talks about different gas canisters. Both natural OC and Tear Gas, which is an artificial compound that goes by the acronyms CS and CN gas, cause the same symptoms and have similar toxicity and health risks, according to the doctors writing that study.” [WUSA 9, 6/3/2020]
On June 1, 2020, The White House Submitted Proposed Changes To Environmental Review Rules To Be Finalized. On June 2, 2020, E&E News reported: “The Trump administration’s controversial rewrite of regulations surrounding the National Environmental Policy Act is closer to being complete. Yesterday, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, chaired by Mary Neumayr, sent the rule to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The push to retool NEPA rules is part of President Trump’s attempt to fundamentally change environmental policy for the long haul. The plan, the White House says, would ‘modernize’ and speed up environmental review for major projects like bridges, highways and pipelines.” [E&E Greenwire, 6/2/2020]
On June 4, 2020 Trump Signed An Executive Order Declaring An “Economic Emergency” To Waive Environmental Laws. On Thursday, June 4, 2020, the Washington Post reported: “President Trump will sign an executive order Thursday instructing agencies to waive long-standing environmental laws to speed up federal approval for new mines, highways, pipelines and other projects given the current ‘economic emergency,’ according to four people briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity in advance of the formal announcement. Declaring an economic emergency allows the president to invoke a section of federal law ‘where emergency circumstances make it necessary to take an action with significant environmental impact without’ observing normal requirements imposed by laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. These laws require agencies to solicit public input on proposed projects and analyze in detail how federal decisions could harm the environment.” [Washington Post, 6/4/2020]
- Trump’s June 4, 2020 Executive Order Is Separate From Proposed Rule Changes Submitted To OMB. On Thursday, June 4, 2020, the Washington Post reported: “But Trump’s desire to weaken the National Environmental Policy Act predates the eruption of the pandemic in the United States. In early January, the president proposed fundamental changes to 50-year-old regulations to narrow its scope. Those changes would mean that communities would have less control over some projects built in their neighborhoods. Environmental groups, tribal activists and others have used the law to delay or block infrastructure, mining, logging and drilling projects since it was signed by President Richard Nixon in 1970. Those proposed changes are under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget and could be finalized within weeks. The order Trump is expected to sign Thursday will also accelerate civil works projects overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and instruct the Interior, Agriculture and Defense departments to use their authorities to speed up projects on federal lands.” [Washington Post, 6/4/2020]
- E&E News: “Communities Of Color Will Have Fewer Ways To Protect Themselves From Pollution And Climate Change.” On June 5, 2020, E&E News reported: “Communities of color will have fewer ways to protect themselves from pollution and climate change under President Trump’s decision to curtail environmental reviews for infrastructure projects. Citing an economic emergency associated with the coronavirus, Trump yesterday signed an executive order waiving reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act. The law is often used by the public to shape federal decisions related to infrastructure; it requires agencies to analyze alternatives that could minimize harm to the environment and allows the public to comment. Trump’s order also seeks to circumvent the Endangered Species Act.” [E&E Climatewire, 6/5/2020]
Industry Writing Their Own Reviews
Trump’s Rule Changes Would Open The Door For Contractors To Assume A Greater Role In Preparing Environmental Impact Statements On Proposed Projects, Effectively Removing Conflict-Of-Interest Requirements. According to The Hill, “The changes, which will be posted to the Federal Register on Friday, would limit the law’s scope, excluding some projects from undergoing NEPA review, like those that receive little federal funding. It also opens the door for more industry involvement in reviewing the environmental impacts of their projects. […] Neumayr also said the proposal would allow ‘applicants and contractors to assume a greater role in preparing environmental impact statements under the supervision of an agency.’ How extensive that role would be was not clear, but the possibility of greater industry influence would be sure to spark concerns for environmental groups.” [The Hill, 1/9/2020]
- Earthjustice Senior Legislative Council Stephen Schima Argued The Proposal Would Allow Project Contractors The Ability To Write Their Own Reviews, “Cementing Conflicts-Of-Interest Into Federal Regulation.” According to The Hill, “‘The proposal would effectively give project sponsors in the NEPA process the ability to write their own reviews, stacking the deck in the review process for those who want to slash, burn, and pollute communities’ air and water for the sake of profit. Cementing conflicts-of-interest into federal regulation puts our health at risk,’ Stephen Schima, a senior legislative counsel leading NEPA advocacy work for Earthjustice, wrote in a statement. He was also concerned about limiting what future projects would require a NEPA review, something Schima said would allow businesses to proceed without consulting nearby communities. ‘This would severely curtail review of environmental impacts and provide the public with little to no voice in the decisions affecting their communities,’ he said.” [The Hill, 1/9/2020]
Trump’s Changes To The Environmental Review Process Would Allow Agencies To Substitute NEPA Review For Any Other Analysis Or Process. According to a blog post from the NRDC: “NEPA does not leave it to federal agencies to decide for themselves what kind of environmental review to complete. Just because an agency may have environmental responsibilities does not free it from the specific public participation and adequacy of review requirements imposed by NEPA. Yet, Trump’s proposal would do just that. […] CEQ offers no justification for allowing this change which runs contrary to the letter and intent of NEPA. With the exception of the Environmental Protection Agency, Courts have rejected attempts by other agencies such as the Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to avoid the specific requirements of NEPA.” [NRDC.Org, 3/9/2020]
Limits On Projects That Are Subject To Review
Trump’s Changes To The Environmental Review Process Would No Longer Require Any Form Of Federal Environmental Review Of Projects That Lack Substantial Government Funding. According to CNBC, “The plan, released by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, would no longer require any form of federal environmental review of construction projects that lack substantial government funding. The change would also widen the category of projects that will be exempt from NEPA regulations.” [CNBC, 1/9/2020]
- NRDC Warned That Limiting The Scope Of The National Environmental Protection Act “Leaves The Public Without Say In Many Decisions That Shape Their Communities.” According to a blog post from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): “A broad definition of major federal action is necessary to fulfill NEPA’s mandate. Agencies can and do tailor the amount of review to the size of the project. Limiting what is covered by NEPA in the first place leaves the public without a say in many decisions that shape their communities. Pipelines like the Dakota Access, for example, might no longer be covered by NEPA. The U.S. Army Corps argues that it is only responsible for the few miles where the pipeline crosses the lake formed by the dam it created. Hog farms receiving federal loan guarantees could also be excluded. Talk about a recipe for litigation. What counts as ‘minimal’? What counts as ‘influencing the outcome’? President Trump says he wants more certainty, but this proposal creates a lot less.” [NRDC.Org, 3/9/2020]
- Trump’s Rule Change Could Also Allow Agencies To Exempt Smaller Projects Or Those Projects Granted Exemptions From Other Agencies From Environmental Review. According to ABC News: “The change could also allow agencies to exempt more projects from environmental review if they determine the project is small or if similar projects have been given exemptions by other agencies.” [ABC News, 1/9/2020]
Trump’s Changes To The Environmental Review Process Would Limit The Geographic Scope Of Projects Subject To Review. According to Sierra Club: “In addition, CEQ proposes that effects should not be considered ‘significant’ if they are remote in time, geographically remote, or the result of a lengthy causal chain. While this proposed change doesn’t specifically mention global warming or climate change, the consequence is clear: If the climate impacts of a project can be deemed ‘geographically remote’ or the result of a ‘lengthy causal chain’—such as an oil and gas project releasing methane into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to the greenhouse effect—then they can be deemed not significant and therefore disqualified from a NEPA review.” [Sierra Club, 1/30/2020]
Trump’s Changes To The Environmental Review Process Would Also Eliminate Reviews Of Federal Or Federally Assisted Research Or Development Of Demonstration Programs For New Technologies. According to a blog post from the NRDC: “Courts have found that NEPA applies to technology development programs. When Congress enacted NEPA, it was well aware that new technologies were a major cause of environmental destruction. Yet, Trump’s proposal removes the word ‘shall’ from agency obligations to complete programmatic environmental impact statements as it develops or assists in the development of new technologies. […] NEPA identifies ‘new and expanding technological advances’ as one of the profound influences that man has had on the interrelations of all components of the natural environment. CEQ offers no justification in its proposal for curtailing NEPA’s application to agency involvement in new technology development.” [NRDC.Org, 3/9/2020]
Limits On What Needs To Be Considered
Center For Biological Diversity: “You’re Assuming Away Massive Amounts of Harm And You’re Not Even Going To Discuss It.” In a January, 2020 story on Trump’s proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, the New York Times reported: “With the proposed changes, said Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity, ‘You’re assuming away massive amounts of harm and you’re not even going to discuss it.” [New York Times, 1/3/2020]
Trump’s Changes To The Environmental Review Process Would Limit Agency’s Obligation To Obtain Relevant Information On Proposed Actions. According to a blog post from the NRDC: “For years, CEQ has required agencies to obtain the information that they need to make a decision. If the means to obtain such information are unknown or the costs to obtain the information are exorbitant, the agency must identify the information that is incomplete or missing and explain why it is relevant. Trump’s proposal changes ‘not exorbitant’ to ‘not unreasonable.’ […] NEPA’s purpose is to ensure informed decision-making yet Trump’s proposal explicitly excuses them from undertaking new scientific and technical research that might be needed.” [NRDC.Org, 3/9/2020]
Trump’s National Environmental Policy Act Rollback Would Constrain The Range Of Reasonable Project Alternatives Considered By Agencies Under The Law. According to Sierra Club: “Finally, CEQ is proposing to constrain the range of reasonable alternatives that an agency needs to consider under NEPA. A reasonable alternative would only have to be technically and economically feasible, and meet the purpose and the need of the applicant. If the purpose and the need of a project is to deliver a certain amount of liquified gas to an export terminal, McCoy points out, a proposal to put in an alternative of using a 24-inch pipeline instead of a 36-inch pipeline may no longer be reasonable depending on how the applicant frames the purpose of the proposed action under the new regulations.” [Sierra Club, 1/30/2020]
Limits On How Long It Takes To Review Community Impacts
Under Trump’s Proposed Changes, Federal Environmental Review Of Projects Would Be Subject To A Review Period Of Two Years And Environmental Impact Statements Would Have Page Limits. According to Yale Climate Connections: “The president, well before his election and as a real estate developer, has long indicated that he thinks federal environmental reviews take too long. NEPA litigation certainly has stalled controversial infrastructure projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed overhaul would limit most federal environmental reviews to two years, while also limiting the number of pages for environmental impact statements.” [Yale Climate Connections, 2/20/2020]
Trump’s National Environmental Policy Act Rollback Would Allow Actions To Be Taken Before The NEPA Review Process Is Completed. According to a blog post from the NRDC: “NEPA prohibits the ‘irreversible and irretrievable commitment of resources’ before completion of the required environmental review and public participation. The purpose of NEPA is to ensure that agencies ‘look before they leap.’ Yet, Trump’s proposal authorizes ‘such activities, including, but not limited to ‘acquisition of interests in land’’ while the NEPA process is still underway. Moreover, the proposal explicitly delays NEPA compliance until after treaties, international conventions and agreements have already been ratified. Courts have consistently refused to allow projects to proceed when violations of NEPA have occurred. In fact, courts across the country have issued preliminary injunctions to halt agency action while they evaluate claims of agency NEPA violations.” [NRDC.Org, 3/9/2020]
Consequences Of Putting Time Limits On Gun Background Checks
Time Restrictions On The FBI’s Gun Background Check Process Contributed To The Shooting At A Black Church In South Carolina. In December of 2019, Roll Call reported: “The FBI never completes hundreds of thousands of gun background checks each year because of a deadline that requires it to purge them from its computers, despite a report that raised alarms about the practice in 2015. The data obtained by CQ Roll Call, which has not been previously published, shows how the FBI still struggles to complete background checks four years after a breakdown in the system contributed to a shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine Black churchgoers dead.” [Roll Call, 12/3/2019]
FBI Did Not Complete More Than 1.1 Million Background Checks On Gun Purchases From 2014 Through July 2019. In December of 2019, Roll Call reported: “A 2015 internal report on what went wrong in that case recommended ways to decrease the number of background checks that take longer than 88 days. After that point, the FBI must purge checks from its computers. That year, the bureau processed more than 8.9 million checks and never completed 200,360. That number rose in 2016 and 2017 before a slight dip last year, when the FBI processed 8.2 million checks but did not complete 201,323. All told, the FBI did not complete over 1.1 million background checks from 2014 through July 2019. Since the data is purged, it’s impossible to know how many of those people have purchased guns without a completed background check — or how many purchases would have been blocked if the background checks were complete.” [Roll Call, 12/3/2019]
FBI Did Not Complete 1.3 Million Background Checks On Gun Purchases From FY 2003 Through May 2013. In December of 2019, Roll Call reported: “The internal report on the Roof case found that the bureau focused on background checks it could complete quickly and paid “little attention” to checks that took longer than three business days. Little has changed since then, the newly released data shows. In 2015, almost 74 percent of checks that took longer than three business days were never completed. In 2018, that number was almost 73 percent. The newly released data also appears to reveal part of a trend that stretches back decades. A 2016 report by the Justice Department’s inspector general found that the FBI did not complete 1.3 million background checks from fiscal 2003 through May 2013 because they hit the 88-day mark.” [Roll Call, 12/3/2019]
VOICES CUT OUT OF THE PROCESS
The Hill Headline: “Trump’s Latest Environmental Rollback Threatens Minority Communities, Experts Warn.” On June 7, 2020, The Hill reported: “President Trump’s latest executive order, lifting environmental review of major projects, will have a disproportionately harmful effect on minorities, experts warn. The order signed on Thursday relies on emergency authorities to sidestep a suite of environmental laws, allowing for the fast-tracking of major construction projects in a bid to boost the economy. That could mean rapid approval of not just highways but also pipelines, oil and gas projects and other polluting industries that have historically landed in communities of color.” [The Hill, 6/7/2020]
Mustafa Santiago Ali: “It Shows Again That They Have No Respect For The Lives In These Communities That Are Already Overburdened.” “It shows again that they have no respect for the lives in these communities that are already overburdened,” said Mustafa Santiago Ali, with the National Wildlife Federation, who was previously a senior adviser for environmental justice at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the Obama administration. “Trump’s actions put a spotlight on Black lives don’t matter.” [The Hill, 6/7/2020]
Environmental Groups Raised Concern That By Weakening The Environmental Review Process, Companies Would Be Allowed To Harm Local Communities With Less Scrutiny. According to Reuters, “Environmental groups are concerned that by weakening NEPA implementation, the United States will lose a significant tool to combat and guard against climate change impacts and allow companies to harm local communities with less scrutiny.” [Reuters, 1/6/2020]
- Earthjustice Attorney Stephen Schima Said Trump’s NEPA Rule Changes Would Deprive Local Communities Of “The Most Widespread Mechanism Of Citizen Involvement In Government.” According to Reuters: “Stephen Schima, lead NEPA attorney for Earthjustice, said weakening NEPA implementation would deprive local communities of ‘the most widespread mechanism of citizen involvement in government.’” [Reuters, 1/6/2020]
Mossville, Louisiana Environmental Justice Activists Wrote Trump’s Proposed Changes To NEPA Would Result In “Many More Communities Suffering Like Us.” On March 10th, Delma Bennett and Christine Bennett, two environmental justice activists from Mossville Louisiana, released a statement: “The National Environmental Policy Act’s passage in the 1970s was historic—the whole point was for the government to start to think about people like us, think about the impact that you can have before building a major project. This proposal is appalling and the exact opposite of the direction we need to be going in. You will end up with many more communities suffering like us.” [Equitable and Just Climate Platform, 3/10/2020]
Harambee House Executive Director Wrote That Environmental Justice Communities Were At High Risk Of “Significant Health Harms,” And That Under Trump’s Proposed NEPA Changes Would “Exacerbate” Such Health Risks. On March 10th 2020, Dr. Mildred McClain, executive director of Harambee House/Citizens For Environmental Justice, an environmental justice group serving African American communities, wrote: “The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposal to change the National Environmental Policy Act will be detrimental to environmental justice communities. We face multiple sources of pollution that, when examined in totality, increase our risk for significant health harms including respiratory illnesses, cancer, and premature death. These risks will be exacerbated if the CEQ eliminates the requirement that federal agencies study the cumulative effects of a project, allows industry to prepare its own environmental impact statements, or relaxes conflict of interest policies for federal contractors. We do not want the fox guarding the hen house and ask the CEQ to protect and strengthen NEPA in a way that ensures transparency and community engagement. Do not take away our democratic right to participate in decisions that will impact our current lives and future generations.” [Equitable and Just Climate Platform, 3/10/2020]
Equitable And Just Climate Platform Wrote Trump’s NEPA Rule Changes Would “Be Devastating To Our Communities.” On March 10th 2020, the Equitable and Just Climate Platform, a coalition of 250 environmental and environmental justice groups, issued a statement in response to Trump’s proposed change to the NOPA rule. The statement read: “if this administration’s sham public process on this rollback—where they held only two public hearings and provided a mere 60 days to comment on a sweeping proposed regulatory change—is any indication, this rule will be devastating to our communities.” [Equitable and Just Climate Platform, 3/10/2020]
The Executive Director Of The Deep South Center For Environmental Justice Criticized Trump’s Proposed Changes To NEPA As “Egregious And A Travesty.” On March 10th 2020 Beverly L. Wright, PhD, executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, wrote: “Our work takes place in the Mississippi River Chemical Corridor and Gulf Coast Region where the risk of cancer from industrial pollution is 50 times higher than the national average. We know the enormity of the fight to have our voices heard by elected officials, federal agencies and corporate polluters when permits are being renewed and new facilities are being considered. The National Environmental Policy Act has given us a systematic framework for responding to these environmental threats and hazards in a way that brings parity to the process. The steps being taken to weaken NEPA and disempower communities are egregious and a travesty. If NEPA is gutted, the impact in New Orleans, along the Mississippi River, and in the Gulf Region will be devastating and will further harm us in ways that can not be articulated or quantified. We do not support the proposed changes to NEPA and ask the White House Council on Environmental Quality to preserve this important barrier that protects all communities.” [Equitable and Just Climate Platform, 3/10/2020]
Equitable And Just Climate Platform Wrote Trump’s NEPA Proposal Came Out Of A “Sham Public Process.” On March 10th 2020, the Equitable and Just Climate Platform, a coalition of 250 environmental and environmental justice groups, issued a statement in response to Trump’s proposed change to the NOPA rule. The statement read: “if this administration’s sham public process on this rollback—where they held only two public hearings and provided a mere 60 days to comment on a sweeping proposed regulatory change—is any indication, this rule will be devastating to our communities.” [Equitable and Just Climate Platform, 3/10/2020]
- Equitable And Just Climate Platform Full Statement On Trump’s Proposed Changes to NEPA: On March 10th 2020, the Equitable and Just Climate Platform, a coalition of 250 environmental and environmental justice groups, issued a statement in response to Trump’s proposed change to the NOPA rule. The statement read: “All communities have a right to live free from exposure to dangerous toxic pollution in their soil as well as in the air they breathe, the food they eat, and the water they drink. Yet persistent racial and economic inequalities have concentrated toxic polluters near and within communities of color, tribal communities, and low-income communities. Instead of striving to overcome those injustices, the Trump administration—with its NEPA rollback that would curb speech and boost dangerous pollution—would make things worse. We oppose this egregious move and urge the administration to instead advance a climate policy agenda that reduces the disproportionate amount of pollution often found in environmental justice communities and that is associated with cumulative impacts, public health risks, and other persistent challenges. And if this administration’s sham public process on this rollback—where they held only two public hearings and provided a mere 60 days to comment on a sweeping proposed regulatory change—is any indication, this rule will be devastating to our communities.” [Equitable and Just Climate Platform, 3/10/2020]
March 2020: U.S. Senators Penned A Letter To The CEQ Warning That Proposed Changes To Would “Greatly Inhibit Concerns And Input From American Indian/Alaska Native Communities.” According to a March 2020 press release from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works: “U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are urging the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to reverse course on its proposed rule that would weaken the application of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), warning that the proposal would greatly inhibit concerns and input from American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. ‘Following centuries of systemic marginalization in this country, NEPA requirements have helped to make progress in ensuring that AI/AN communities are able to provide input on projects that affect their communities. Instead of fostering more participation in the federal decision-making process, CEQ’s proposal would limit tribal input in decisions that directly impact their homelands,’ the senators wrote in a letter sent to CEQ yesterday.” [Press Release, U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, 3/10/2020]
- Senators Wrote That Proposed Changes To The Act Would “Limit Tribal Input In Decisions That Directly Impact Their Homelands.” According to a March 2020 press release from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works: “U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are urging the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to reverse course on its proposed rule that would weaken the application of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), warning that the proposal would greatly inhibit concerns and input from American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. […] ‘Instead of fostering more participation in the federal decision-making process, CEQ’s proposal would limit tribal input in decisions that directly impact their homelands,’ the senators wrote in a letter sent to CEQ yesterday.” [Press Release, U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, 3/10/2020]
Trump’s Changes To The Environmental Review Process Could Mean Groups Are Required To Post Bond In Order To Ensure Administrative Review Of A Proposed Development. According to Aspen Daily News, “Even Rickenbaugh, who has read most of the proposed rule extensively, hadn’t realized that implication — that the public could in theory need to post a monetary bond in order to ensure administrative review of a proposed development. ‘That’s really bad,’ she said. ‘It eliminates 75 percent of the groups that would comment on these things.’” [Aspen Daily News, 2/24/2020]
Trump’s Changes To The Environmental Review Process Could Effectively Stifle Public Comment By Enforcing Requirements That The Public Comment On A Specific Item In Rule Changes. According to Aspen Daily News, “Suzanne Jackson, also of Colorado Wild Public Lands, pointed out that there are other provisions in the proposed regulations that, in her view, would effectively stifle public comment. ‘They ask them to comment on a specific item instead of commenting generally,’ she said. ‘And that makes it very difficult, too, because not everybody is technically oriented, but they know that they want to have a voice in what’s going on — or they know that there’s alternatives, but they don’t have the time or the understanding to look at the nitty-gritty legal language.’” [Aspen Daily News, 2/24/2020]
TRUMP WANTS TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR FOSSIL FUEL COMPANIES TO AVOID SCRUTINY
Trumps Changes To The Environmental Review Process Are Expected To Help Fossil Fuel Companies
New York Times: “The Proposed Changes To The 50-Year-Old National Environmental Policy Act Could Sharply Reduce Obstacles To The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline And Other Fossil Fuel Projects.” According to The New York Times: “Federal agencies would no longer have to take climate change into account when they assess the environmental impacts of highways, pipelines and other major infrastructure projects, according to a Trump administration plan that would weaken the nation’s benchmark environmental law. The proposed changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act could sharply reduce obstacles to the Keystone XL oil pipeline and other fossil fuel projects that have been stymied when courts ruled that the Trump administration did not properly consider climate change when analyzing the environmental effects of the projects.” [New York Times, 1/3/2020]
LA Times Headline: “Trump Seeks Exempting Some Pipelines And Highways From Environmental Review, Alarming Climate Activists.” On January 9, 2020, the Los Angeles Times reported: “President Trump on Thursday unveiled a proposed revision of the federal environmental review process, a move that would fast-track the construction of some infrastructure projects, including pipelines, highways and airports. The change, which would apply to the National Environmental Policy Act enacted under the Nixon administration, would limit the review timeline of ‘large’ projects to two years and ‘small’ projects to one year and eliminate the requirement that agencies weigh the ‘cumulative impacts’ of a project, which has often been interpreted to include analysis of impacts from climate change.” [Los Angeles Times, 1/9/2020]
“Cumulative Impact” = Code fo Climate Change
Reuters Headline: Trump To Dismiss Climate Impacts In Overhaul Of Environmental Reviews: Sources.” On January 6, 2020, Reuters reported: “Major new U.S. projects like highways and pipelines will no longer require federal reviews of their environmental climate impact under new rules that the Trump administration will propose on Wednesday, sources familiar with the plan said. The proposed overhaul would update how federal agencies implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a law aimed at ensuring the government protects the environment when reviewing or making decisions about projects that include building roads and bridges, cutting forests, expanding broadband to approving interstate pipelines like the Keystone XL.” [Reuters, 1/6/2020]
Columbia University Experts Says Eliminating The Need To Consider Climate Change Would Lead To More Pipelines And Other Projects That Worsen Global Emissions. In January of 2020, the New York Times reported: “Michael Gerrard, director of Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, said eliminating the need to consider climate change would lead to more pipelines and other projects that worsen global emissions. It could also put roads, bridges and other infrastructure at greater risk, he said, because developers would not be required, for instance, to analyze whether sea-level rise threatened to eventually submerge a project. ‘It has the potential to distort infrastructure planning by making it easier to ignore predictable futures that could severely degrade the projects,’ Mr. Gerrard said.” [New York Times, 1/3/2020]
Trump’s Rollback Of The National Environmental Policy Act Would Eliminate Requirements To Analyze The Cumulative Environmental Effects Of Proposed Projects. According to The New York Post: “The changes would also eliminate the need for agencies to consider the ‘cumulative impacts’ of projects. In recent years, courts have said that includes studying the planet-warming consequences of emitting more greenhouse gases. Mary B. Neumayr, the chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the change did not prevent or exclude consideration of the impact of greenhouse gases; consideration would no longer be required.” [New York Times, 1/9/2020]
- NRDC Warned That Without Factoring Cumulative Impacts, Federal Agencies Could Not Satisfy The Law’s Mandate To Act As A Trustee For Future Generations. According to a. blog post from the NRDC: “Agencies cannot satisfy NEPA’s mandate to act as trustee for future generations without looking at cumulative impacts. As CEQ itself has said, ‘Evidence is increasing that the most devastating environmental effects may result not from the direct effects of a particular action, but from the combination of individually minor effects of multiple actions over time.’ CEQ, Considering Cumulative Effects under the National Environmental Policy Act(January 1997).” [Org, 3/9/2020]
- Center For The Urban Environment Director Nicky Sheats Said That Removing Cumulative Impacts Strips Away A Powerful Tool Used By Communities. According to The Washington Post: “Nicky Sheats, the director of the Center for the Urban Environment at Thomas Edison State University in Trenton, N.J., said the Trump administration was sending a clear message. ‘You are leaving these communities without protection,’ Sheats said. Removing cumulative impacts, which analyzes how a proposed project would pollute the air and affect health and people’s lives, would strip away a powerful tool. ‘Your actions are drowning out your words. Please don’t fail environmental justice communities,’ Sheats added.” [Washington Post, 2/25/2020]
PEOPLE OF COLOR ARE ALREADY EXPOSED TO POLLUTION & RELATED HEALTH IMPACTS
Air Pollution Disparities In General
American Lung Association: “Poorer People And Some Racial And Ethnic Groups Are Among Those Who Often Face Higher Exposure To Pollutants And Who May Experience Greater Responses To Such Pollution.” According to the American Lung Association, “The burden of air pollution is not evenly shared. Poorer people and some racial and ethnic groups are among those who often face higher exposure to pollutants and who may experience greater responses to such pollution. Many studies have explored the differences in harm from air pollution to racial or ethnic groups and people who are in a low socioeconomic position, have less education or live nearer to major sources, including a workshop the American Lung Association held in 2001 that focused on urban air pollution and health inequities.” [American Lung Association 2/12/2020]
American Lung Association: “People Of Color Also May Be More Likely To Live In Counties With Higher Levels Of Pollution.” According to the American Lung Association, “People of color also may be more likely to live in counties with higher levels of pollution. Non-Hispanic Blacks and Hispanics were more likely to live in counties that had worse problems with particle pollution, researchers found in a 2011 analysis. Non-Hispanic Blacks were also more likely to live in counties with worse ozone pollution. Income groups, by contrast, differed little in these exposures. However, since few rural counties have monitors, the primarily older, non-Hispanic White residents of those counties lack information about the air quality in their communities.” [American Lung Association 2/12/2020]
American Lung Association: Communities Of Color “Experienced Higher Risks Of Harm, Including Premature Death, From Exposure To Air Pollution.” According to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report: “Studies have found that Hispanics, Asians, American Indians/Alaska Natives and especially African Americans experienced higher risks of harm, including premature death, from exposure to air pollution. Approximately 74 million people of color live in counties that received at least one failing grade for ozone and/or particle pollution. Over 14 million people of color live in counties that received failing grades on all three measures.” [American Lung Association, State of the Air 2020]
Particulate Air Pollution
Headline: “Hispanics And Blacks Create Less Air Pollution Than Whites, But Breathe More Of It, Study Finds.” [CNN, 3/13/2019]
- Study: Blacks And Hispanic Are Exposed To 56% And 63% More Particulate Air Pollution (PM2.5) Than Is Caused By Their Consumption, While Non-Hispanic Whites Are Exposed To Less Pollution Than They Cause. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution exposure is the largest environmental health risk factor in the United States. Here, we link PM2.5 exposure to the human activities responsible for PM2.5 pollution. We use these results to explore “pollution inequity”: the difference between the environmental health damage caused by a racial–ethnic group and the damage that group experiences. We show that, in the United States, PM2.5 exposure is disproportionately caused by consumption of goods and services mainly by the non-Hispanic White majority, but disproportionately inhaled by Black and Hispanic minorities. On average, non-Hispanic Whites experience a “pollution advantage”: They experience ∼17% less air pollution exposure than is caused by their consumption. Blacks and Hispanics on average bear a “pollution burden” of 56% and 63% excess exposure, respectively, relative to the exposure caused by their consumption. The total disparity is caused as much by how much people consume as by how much pollution they breathe. Differences in the types of goods and services consumed by each group are less important. PM2.5 exposures declined ∼50% during 2002–2015 for all three racial–ethnic groups, but pollution inequity has remained high.” [Tessum, Chrstopher W. et al, “Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial–ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Mar 2019, 116 (13) 6001-6006]
Union Of Concerned Scientists: “Communities Of Color In The Northeast And Mid-Atlantic Breathe 66 Percent More Air Pollution From Vehicles Than White Residents.” In June of 2019, the Union of Concerned Scientists published a report, finding: “Asian American, African American, and Latino residents in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region are exposed to substantially more air pollution from cars, trucks, and buses than other demographic groups. For many years, this has been a known fact among affected communities, who have experienced firsthand the dangerous health impacts of air pollution, such as lung and heart ailments, asthma, diabetes, developmental problems in children, and premature death.” Among the key findings of the report, the Union of Concerned Scientists found: “On average, communities of color in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic breathe 66 percent more air pollution from vehicles than White residents.” [Union of Concerned Scientists, 6/21/2019]
Particle Pollution Can Come From A Variety Of Sources Including Power Plants And Vehicle Exhaust. According to the American Lung Association: “Particle pollution is a mix of tiny solid and liquid particles in the air and can be made up of a number of components, such as acids, organic chemicals, metals, soil and dust particles. It can be emitted directly from wood stoves, forest fires, vehicles and other sources, and it can also form from other types of pollution that come from sources like power plants.” [American Lung Association, 6/21/2016]
Harvard Public Health Study: Exposure To Particulate (PM2.5) Air Pollution Linked To Increased Risk Of Death From Coronavirus. A study recently published by researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health concluded: “We found that an increase of only 1 μg/m3 in PM2.5 is associated with an 8% increase in the COVID-19 death rate (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2%, 15%). The results were statistically significant and robust to secondary and sensitivity analyses. A small increase in long-term exposure to PM2.5 leads to a large increase in the COVID-19 death rate. Despite inherent limitations of to the ecological study design, our results underscore the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the COVID-19 crisis. The data and code are publicly available so our analyses can be updated routinely.” [Xiao Wu et all “Exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 mortality in the United States.” medRxiv 2020.04.05.20054502 – Updated 4/24/2020]
- Headline: “New Research Links Air Pollution to Higher Coronavirus Death Rates.” [New York Times, 4/7/2020]
- Headline: “Air Pollution Linked To Increased Risk Of Death From COVID-19 In U.S., Harvard Study Finds” [Newsweek, 4/8/2020]
Nitrogen Dioxide & Ozone
Study Found Nonwhites Exposed To 37% More NO2 Than Whites And 2.5 Times More Likely To Live With Unhealthy NO2 Concentrations. According to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, “During 2000 to 2010, estimated annual average exposures to outdoor NO2NO2 air pollution declined across all race-ethnicity and socioeconomic groups [range of mean change: −33% −33% to −42% −42% (−3.5 ppb −3.5 ppb to −8.6 ppb −8.6 ppb)]. The most exposed groups in 2000 experienced, on average, the largest reductions in NO2NO2 during 2000 to 2010. Disparities in NO2 exposure were larger by race-ethnicity than by other demographic characteristics (income, education, age) in 2000 and 2010, with higher exposures for race-ethnicity minorities. The estimated national mean nonwhite–white NO2 disparity decreased from 5.0 ppb5.0 ppb in 2000 to 2.9 ppb2.9 ppb in 2010. Most of this reduction in the national mean nonwhite–white NO2 disparity over time is attributable to reductions in outdoor NO2 concentrations, suggesting that existing efforts to reduce TRAP are also reducing TRAP exposure disparities by race-ethnicity over time. Despite these improvements in absolute exposures, relative exposure disparities persisted, with nonwhites remaining exposed to 37% more NO2 than Whites on average in 2010, and 2.5 times more likely than Whites to live in a block group with NO2 concentration above WHO guidelines in 2010. Overall, these findings suggest that continued improvements to air quality may further reduce TRAP exposure disparities by race-ethnicity. However, eliminating disparities may require additional policies and interventions that target the underlying causes of environmental injustice.” [Lara P. Clark,Dylan B. Millet,and Julian D. Marshall, “Changes in Transportation-Related Air Pollution Exposures by Race-Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status: Outdoor Nitrogen Dioxide in the United States in 2000 and 2010” Environmental Health Perspectives 125:9 CID: 097012, 2017]
Study Found Early Childhood Exposure to Motor Vehicle Pollutant NO2 Was Associated With An Increased Risk For Asthma In Latinos And African Americans Later In Life. A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found: “In this study, early-life exposure to NO2, a motor vehicle pollutant, was associated with an increased risk for subsequent asthma in Latino and African American children across five geographic regions in the United States and Puerto Rico. Our results are consistent with previous findings from two metaanalyses that support a relationship between NO2 and asthma incidence (16, 24). Some studies included in these meta-analyses lacked accurate measurements of the exposure before the onset of asthma or used community-level data rather than residential addresses to determine pollutant levels (36–38). Inaccuracies introduced by these methods may explain the inconsistencies seen in the literature. The current study overcomes these limitations by using residential addresses to determine pollutant exposures and limiting the analyses to participants whose exposure predated their asthma diagnosis.” [Nishimura, Katherine et al, “Early-Life Air Pollution and Asthma Risk in Minority Children” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine Vol 188, 2013]
Asthma and Allergy Foundation: “Ozone Triggers Asthma.” According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, “Ozone, a gas, is one of the most common air pollutants. Ozone contributes to what we typically experience as “smog” or haze. It is most common in cities where there are more cars. It is also more common in the summer when there is more sunlight and low winds. Ozone triggers asthma because it is very irritating to the lungs and airways. It is well known that ozone concentration is directly related to asthma attacks. It has also caused the need for more doses of asthma drugs and emergency treatment for asthma. Ozone can reduce lung function. Ozone can make it more difficult for you to breathe deeply.” [Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, October 2015]
African American Children Were Four Times More Likely To Be Admitted To The Hospital And Ten Times More Likely To Die From Asthma. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, “In 2015, African American children had a death rate ten times that of non-Hispanic White children. Black children are 4 times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for asthma, as compared to non-Hispanic White children. [Department of Health and Human Services, Accessed 9/7/18]
New York Times Headline: “Medical Examiner Testifies Eric Garner Died of Asthma Caused by Officer’s Chokehold.” The doctor who performed an autopsy on Eric Garner testified on Wednesday that a police officer choked him with enough force that it triggered a ‘lethal cascade’ of events, ending in a fatal asthma attack. The doctor, Floriana Persechino, said the officer’s chokehold and the compression of Mr. Garner’s chest during his arrest on Staten Island in 2014 ‘set into motion a lethal sequence.’ Though Mr. Garner had high blood pressure and chronic asthma, Dr. Persechino, a veteran city medical examiner, stood by her finding that his death was a homicide caused by the officer’s use of force. ‘The chokehold is a significant initial factor of the cascade,’ she said.” [New York Times, 5/15/2019]
In Cancer Alley, Black Communities Face A 16% Higher Risk Of Cancer Than White Communities, And Low-Income Communities Face A 12% Higher Risk Than High Income Communities. According to an article published in 2012 in the International Journal of Environmental Public Health on cancer disparities in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, “People in low-income tracts bore a cumulative risk 12% more than those in high-income tracts (p < 0.05), and those in Black-dominant areas 16% more than in White-dominant areas (p < 0.01). Formaldehyde and benzene were the two largest contributors to the disparities. […] Risk reduction strategies should target emission sources, risk driver chemicals, and especially the disadvantaged neighborhoods.” [Int. J Environ Res Public Health. 2012 Dec; 9(12): 4365–4385, 12/3/2012]
- The Blacker And Poorer The Neighborhood, The Higher The Risk Of Cancer. According to an article published in 2012 in the International Journal of Environmental Public Health, “Spatial QR analyses showed that magnitude of disparity became larger at the high end of exposure range, indicating worsened disparity in the poorest and most highly concentrated Black areas. Cancer risk of air toxics not only disproportionately affects socioeconomically disadvantaged and racial minority communities, but there is a gradient effect within these groups with poorer and higher minority concentrated segments being more affected than their counterparts.” [ J Environ Res Public Health. 2012 Dec; 9(12): 4365–4385, 12/3/2012]
Cancer Alley Has The “Highest Rate Of Air Pollution-Caused Cancer In The Country.” According to a 2015 EPA study cited by DeSmog Blog, the six parishes surrounding a Denka plant in Cancer Alley has the highest rate of cancer from air pollutants in the country: “The neoprene plant emits chloroprene, a chemical recently reclassified as a likely human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to a 2015 EPA assessment, residents that live near the plant, including Taylor and his family, have a lifetime cancer risk from air pollution that a is 800 times higher than the national average. Those living in the six parishes closest to the Denka facility have the highest risk of air pollution-caused cancer in the country.” [DeSmog Blog, 5/31/2019]
Black Louisianans Have A 12% Higher Incidence Of Cancer And A 35% Higher Cancer Death Rate Then Americans Overall. According to data collected by the National Cancer Institute and presented by the Tulane Environemntal Law clinic, “Louisianians have a: 8% higher cancer incidence, 15% higher cancer death rate and Black Louisianians have a: 12% higher cancer incidence, 35% higher cancer death rate compared to Americans overall, based on 2011-2015 data from the National Cancer Institute.” [National Cancer Institute 2011-2015 via Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, 2019]
Seven Of The Ten Census Tracks With The Highest Risk Of Cancer In The Country Are In Cancer Alley. According to data collected by the EPA in 2014 and presented in a Rolling Stone article, seven of the ten census tracks with the highest risk of cancer in the US are in Cancer Alley. [EPA 2014 via Rolling Stone, 10/30/2019]
Lead In Drinking Water Supplies
Communities Of Color Most Frequently Face Water Contamination Issues And Live With Them Longer. In September of 2019, NJ.com reported: “Newark and Flint, Michigan aren’t the only cities grappling with water troubles. Across the U.S., low-income communities of color most frequently face water contamination issues and live with those problems longer, according to a new report published by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Coming Clean and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance.The report comes on the heels of Newark’s now three-year lead water crisis that has seen escalating levels of the contaminant in tap water samples since 2017. The NRDC, which has sued the city and state over their handling of the water emergency, has repeatedly accused regulators of not acting quickly or forcefully enough to protect public health.” [NJ.com, 9/26/2019]
See also: NRDC: “Watered Down Justice” 3/27/2020: https://www.nrdc.org/resources/watered-down-justice
Newark, NJ Is Facing A Crisis With Lead Leaching Into Water From Old Pipes In Predominantly Lower Income And Minority Neighborhoods. In August of 2019, CBS News reported: “High school history teacher Yvette Jordan and her husband Frank are among thousands of Newark residents urged to use bottled water until further notice. Recent tests by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed the 38,000 water filters handed out by the city might not be effective in removing lead from Newark’s water supply. ‘We had our water tested and it’s three times the federal action level,’ Yvette told CBS News. ‘So that’s upsetting.’ Newark is catching up to a problem it’s reportedly denied for more than a year. But Mayor Ras Baraka said the water giveaway is out of an abundance of caution. ‘The testing was performed in only three homes, which we believe is a small sample size,’ Baraka said a press conference. The lead is suspected to be leaching into the water from old pipes in predominantly lower income and minority neighborhoods.” [CBS News, 8/12/2019]
Milwaukee Children Tested Positive For Lead Poisoning At Double The Percentage Found In Flint, MI With Children In African American Community Disproportionately Affected. According to a blog post from the Union of Concerned Scientists: “Lead exposure, especially from water in older pipes, is a major health problem in Milwaukee. A 2016 Wisconsin state report on childhood lead poisoning indicated that nearly 11% of children tested in Milwaukee showed elevated blood lead levels, which was double the percentage found in Flint, Michigan. Children from low-income families, especially within the African American community, are disproportionately affected.” [Union of Concerned Scientists, 10/23/2018]
Civil Rights Commission Found That Systemic Racism Helped To Cause The Flint Water Crisis. In February of 2017, CNN reported: “A government-appointed civil rights commission in Michigan says systemic racism helped to cause the Flint water crisis, according to a report released Friday. The 129-page report does not claim there were any specific violations of state civil rights laws, but says ‘historical, structural and systemic racism combined with implicit bias’ played a role in the problems, which still linger in the city’s drinking water almost three years later. ‘The presence of racial bias in the Flint water crisis isn’t much of a surprise to those of us who live here, but the Michigan Civil Rights Commission’s affirmation that the emergency manager law disproportionately hurts communities of color is an important reminder of just how bad the policy is,’ state Sen. Jim Ananich, a Democrat from Flint, said.” [CNN, 2/18/2017]
PEOPLE OF COLOR ARE ALREADY HIT HARDEST BY CLIMATE CHANGE
CDC: African Americans Had Higher Death Rates From Heat Related Illness. According to the CDC, “During 1999–2005, a total of 3,981 heat-related deaths were reported, resulting in approximately 569 heat-related deaths per year in the United States. Older adults and young children are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses and are at high risk for heat-related mortality. Black or African American males had a higher crude rate for heat-related deaths than any other race, across all age groups.” [CDC, Preparedness and Response for Public Health Disasters, accessed 6/24/15]
National Climate Assessment: Climate Change Would Amplify Existing Health Threats In Communities Of Color. According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, “Climate change will, absent other changes, amplify some of the existing health threats the nation now faces. Certain people and communities are especially vulnerable, including children, the elderly, the sick, the poor, and some communities of color.” [National Climate Assessment, 2014]
- National Climate Assessment: Minorities Would Be More Vulnerable To Impacts Of Devastating Heat Waves Caused By Climate Change. According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, “Vulnerability to heat waves is not evenly distributed throughout urban areas; outdoor versus indoor air temperatures, air quality, baseline health, and access to air conditioning are all dependent on socioeconomic factors. Socioeconomic factors that tend to increase vulnerability to such hazards include race and ethnicity (being a minority), age (the elderly and children), gender (female), socioeconomic status (low income, status, or poverty), and education (low educational attainment). The condition of human settlements (type of housing and construction, infrastructure, and access to lifelines) and the built environment are also important determinants of socioeconomic vulnerability, especially given the fact that these characteristics influence potential economic losses, injuries, and mortality.” [National Climate Assessment, 2014]
Hurricanes & Flooding
E&E Headline: “Flooding Disproportionately Harms Black Neighborhoods.” On June 2, 2020, E&E News reported: “When Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas in 2017, the neighborhood that suffered the worst flood damage was a section of southwest Houston where 49% of the residents are nonwhite. When Hurricane Katrina hit southeast Louisiana in 2005, the damage was the most extensive in the region’s African American neighborhoods. Of the seven ZIP codes that suffered the costliest flood damage from Katrina, four of them had populations that were at least 75% Black, government records show. Flooding in the U.S. disproportionately harms African American neighborhoods, an E&E News analysis of federal flood insurance payments shows. [E&E Climatewire, 6/2/2020]
Shriver Center On Poverty And Law: “While Natural Disasters Do Not Discriminate, Their Long-Term Impact Disproportionately Falls On Low-Income Communities Of Color.” In a Medium post titled “What Natural Disasters Reveal About Racism and Poverty” the Shriver Center on Poverty and Law wrote: “While natural disasters do not discriminate, their long-term impact disproportionately falls on low-income communities of color. These families often lack the resources to manage even minor financial emergencies. Many struggle every day simply to secure housing, food, and healthcare and to maintain employment. In many cases, avoiding the disaster by evacuating is not financially possible. Impoverished communities are also typically racially and economically segregated, and already under-resourced and vulnerable to flooding, sometimes due to years of failing to protect these communities as part of flood planning. These areas are often adjacent to environmentally toxic sites, whose dangerous boundaries only expand after the storm.” [Shriver Center on Poverty and Law, 10/12/2017]
Sage Foundation Report On Katrina Aftermath: “Residents Of The Poorest And Blackest Neighborhoods Of New Orleans Quickly Educated America That Disasters And Rescues Are Not Equal Opportunity Affairs.” In a paper on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Russell Sage Foundation wrote: “Hurricane Katrina opened a window on a world of hurt often ignored by the media, policymakers, and the public. Facing enhanced environmental vulnerability and stranded by a lack of public transit, residents of the poorest and blackest neighborhoods of New Orleans quickly educated America that disasters and rescues are not equal opportunity affairs.” [Russell Sage Foundation, “In the Wake of the Storm, Environment, Disaster, and Race After Katrina, 2006]
TRUMP CLAIMS THIS IS ABOUT JOBS
Trump Claims Changes To Environmental Reviews Will Create More Jobs. In January of 2020, The Weather Channel reported: “President Donald Trump announced changes to the decades-old National Environmental Policy Act Thursday that critics say would eliminate the requirement for agencies to consider greenhouse gas emissions, rising sea levels and other climate change factors when reviewing major infrastructure projects like pipelines and bridges. Trump announced the proposal in a speech at the White House Thursday morning. The president said the changes aim to eliminate bureaucracy and streamline new projects like bridges and roads that would in turn create more jobs.” [The Weather Channel, 1/9/2020]
STUDY SHOWS JOBS FROM POLLUTING FACILITIES DON’T GO TO THE PEOPLE OF COLOR WHO ARE HARMED BY THEM
Study Found That Black And Hispanic Populations Experience More Pollution Impacts Than Employment Benefits From Polluting Facilities In Their Communities “By A Substantial Margin.” According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers from the University of Massachusetts, “Disproportionate exposure of Blacks and Hispanics to industrial air pollution in the United States may be caused by discriminatory siting decisions by firms, discriminatory zoning or regulatory policies by government agencies, or postsiting demographic changes in response to economic incentives (such as changes in property values or employment opportunities) or discriminatory practices in housing or mortgage markets. Regardless of the relative strength of alternative explanations for environmental disparities on racial and ethnic lines, it is of interest to know to what extent exposure is accompanied by industrial employment gains. By matching data from the EEOC and EPA, we have examined this question for 712 facilities that together generate more than two-thirds of the human health risk from industrial air toxics releases in the United States and are representative of the facilities that generate 95% of human health risk from industrial air toxics. Comparing the distribution of pollution exposure risk to the distribution of total jobs and better paid jobs, we find that the share of exposure risk borne by Blacks and Hispanics generally exceeds their share of employment at the polluting facilities, often by a substantial margin.“ [Ash, Michael & Boyce, James K. “Racial disparities in pollution exposure and employment at US industrial facilities” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Oct 2018, 115 (42) 10636-10641]
- Study Of Polluting Facilities Found Blacks Get 17.4% Of The Pollution Exposure Risk, But Only 10.8% Of The Jobs. A study on the employment impacts and pollution impacts on Black and Hispanic communities was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers from the University of Massachusetts. According to the researchers: “On average, Blacks receive 17.4% of the exposure risk but hold only 10.8% of the jobs and 6.9% of higher paying better jobs. Similarly, Hispanics receive 15.0% the exposure risk but hold only 9.8% of the jobs and 6.8% of better jobs.” [Ash, Michael & Boyce, James K. “Racial disparities in pollution exposure and employment at US industrial facilities” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Oct 2018, 115 (42) 10636-10641]
- Study Of Polluting Facilities Found Hispanics Get 15% Of The Pollution Exposure Risk, But Only 9.8% Of The Jobs. A study on the employment impacts and pollution impacts on Black and Hispanic communities was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers from the University of Massachusetts. According to the researchers: “On average, Blacks receive 17.4% of the exposure risk but hold only 10.8% of the jobs and 6.9% of higher paying better jobs. Similarly, Hispanics receive 15.0% the exposure risk but hold only 9.8% of the jobs and 6.8% of better jobs.” [Ash, Michael & Boyce, James K. “Racial disparities in pollution exposure and employment at US industrial facilities” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Oct 2018, 115 (42) 10636-10641]
- With Petroleum And Coal Products Manufacturing, Pollution Exposure Is Borne By Blacks And Hispanics At More Than Double Their Share Of Jobs. A study on the employment impacts and pollution impacts on Black and Hispanic communities was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers from the University of Massachusetts. According to the researchers: “The largest difference between exposure and employment shares is found in the petroleum and coal products manufacturing sector, where the share of exposure risk borne by Blacks and Hispanics is more than double their share of jobs.” [Ash, Michael & Boyce, James K. “Racial disparities in pollution exposure and employment at US industrial facilities” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Oct 2018, 115 (42) 10636-10641]
TRUMP IS FOCUSED ON REWARDING FOSSIL FUEL EXECUTIVES
In 2018, BP Lobbied The Trump Administration To Eliminate The Environmental Review Process. In January 2020, the Guardian reported that government documents reviewed by Greenpeace’s investigative unit revealed that “BP said in a letter to the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) in August 2018 that streamlining the Nepa process would “directly benefit BP’s operations in the US”. The letter was discovered by Greenpeace’s investigation unit. BP is planning to increase its business in the US after agreeing to pay $10.5bn (£8bn) to buy BHP Billiton’s shale business last year.” [The Guardian, 1/23/20]
Throughout his administration and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump has made it clear that rewarding fossil fuel executives has been his top priority. See here for more details in the Climate Power 2020 research hub: https://climatepower.us/resources/pro-polluter-pandemic-priorities/