Please take a moment to read the article titled “EPA’s next challenge: Protect communities in nation’s industrial dumping grounds” by Brentin Mock over at Grist.org. It does a great job presenting some of the complexities and challenges of pursuing Environmental Justice in communities that have historically been treated as dumping grounds. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the piece that references our incinerator fight:
In Baltimore, the state has permitted a new waste incinerator in a neighborhood that’s regularly blitzed by pollution from surrounding industrial plants. In Mossville, La., an African American community founded by freed slaves is circled by 14 toxic industrial facilities — just one part of a broader region so saturated with polluters that it’s been labeled “Cancer Alley.”
These are just two examples of a pattern I discussed in my last post, of chemical plants imposing dangers on fenceline communities, where African Americans, Latino Americans, and poor Americans end up taking on more of the burdens of health risks and pollution than the average American.
How do such racial disparities happen and what keeps them alive? Well, there’s the racism of zoning policies that keep black, Latino, and poor residents concentrated in certain neighborhoods — usually the most undesirable locations of a city or state. But much of the problem lies in permitting, which often concentrates polluters in or around those racially redlined communities because they are the paths of least resistance. People struggling with poverty, underemployment, and failed schools have little time or energy to tussle with corporations.
Find the whole story at Grist.org here.