People of color breathe more dangerous air. The sources are everywhere.
These findings were consistent with the experiences of communities on the ground, said Robert D. Bullard, a professor at Texas Southern University who has written for more than 30 years about the need to address environmental racism and who was not involved in it. study.
“If you go to communities of color across the country and ask them, ‘What is the source of the environmental problems? they can direct you to everyone: the highway, chemical plants, refineries, pollution inherited decades ago, in homes, in the air, in water, in playgrounds “, did he declare. “Empirical research is now catching up with reality: America is isolated and so is pollution.”
On Wednesday, the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit group founded by former EPA officials, released a separate report that found that 13 refineries across the United States had released high levels of benzene, another harmful pollutant, in predominantly minority and low-income neighborhoods. in 2020.
These disparities can be traced back to historical practices, such as redlining, in which the federal government characterized certain neighborhoods as risky for real estate investment because their residents were black. For decades, residents of red zones have been denied access to federally guaranteed mortgages and other credits, fueling a cycle of divestment and environmental problems in these neighborhoods.
“Communities of color, especially black communities, have been concentrated in areas adjacent to industrial facilities and industrial estates, and this goes back decades and decades, to redlining,” said Justin Onwenu, a organizer of the Sierra Club based in Detroit. “And a lot of our current infrastructure, our highways, was built on – built through – black communities, so we breathe diesel emissions and other pollution just because we’re located right next to these highways.” ”Mr. Onwenu said. .