Skip to main content

Hip Hop caucus fighting construction of Keystone XL pipeline
This past week has been a week for dreaming: for dreaming about the possibilities and how we can work to make them happen. The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was meant to keep alive the memory of the struggle, to understand the resistance, patience and sacrifice which has been responsible for the incremental successes of the civil rights movement.

The speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. on Aug. 28, 1963, at least a hundred years in the making, was the catalyst for the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and later the Voting Rights Act and Fair Housing Act, and helped elevate the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development into a cabinet-level agency.

The 50th anniversary ceremony was a time to reflect on the successes and to highlight the areas where the struggle is still fresh. Appropriately, the emphasis was placed on restoring voting rights, opposing voter disenfranchisement, fighting "stand your ground" laws and for wage equity. Surprisingly the ceremony included little mention about environmental justice and how people of color suffer disproportionately from polluted air and water, and are the first to suffer because of climate change.

A new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives digs deep under the sidewalks and streets that are soaking up all this new heat in our cities — and finds that not all neighborhoods and racial groups are faring equally. According to the research, blacks, Asians, and Latinos are all significantly more likely to live in high-risk heat-island conditions than white people.

At first glance, this seems to make some sense: Due to a long history of racist policies and lending practices, people of color are more likely than whites to live in poor neighborhoods. Neighborhood infrastructure in poor areas is mostly made of concrete and asphalt (with some soil here and there, often tinged with heavy metals). Those “impervious surfaces” conduct heat like crazy, and turn these areas into "heat islands" surrounded by their richer, greener neighbors.  But this study found something entirely new: The heat-island effect and lack of neighborhood trees is more closely correlated with race than it is with class.

Keep reading below the fold for more on civil and environmental rights.

Maritn Luther King, Jr.
The National Action Network, the civil rights group responsible for organizing the 50th anniversary March on Washington ceremony, listed "environmental justice" among its nine talking points:
Environmental Justice – Many low income people and minorities face environmental challenges that threaten their health and their lifestyle. In Los Angeles, African Americans are twice as likely to die in a heat wave. 68% of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal plant and this creates more incidences of asthma. Latino children are twice as likely to die from an asthma attack as non- Latino children. There are many more issues related to the environment that impact outcomes for these communities.
A report by the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative states that:
Climate change is no longer just an environmental issue. It’s now an issue of race, according to global warming activists and policy makers.“It is critical our community be an integral and active part of the debate because African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change economically, socially and through our health and well-being,” House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., said July 29.Clyburn spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to help launch the Commission to Engage African-Americans on Climate Change, a project of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The launch came on the heels of a separate report by the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (EJCC), which claims African-Americans are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
It's time for civil rights activists to join with environmental activists to fight the most
dangerous challenge to our species: climate change. The two groups need each other. They have both had dramatic successes. Imagine the force they could create together.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 11:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by EcoJustice and Barriers and Bridges.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Case in point: Detroit Incinerator (20+ / 0-)

    It was a bad idea when first proposed, and it has only gotten worse:

    As the largest incinerator in the world, it has to burn for other towns and for private haulers to keep it going near its design capacity. During the last several years, private haulers were charged as little as $13 per ton, while Detroit residents have been charged $150 per ton or more. Since the City needs the trash to keep it burning, its continued use is a disincentive to recycling. On July 1, 2009, Detroit implemented a pilot curbside recycling program for about 10 percent of households, but it could easily be abandoned if the City continues to use the incinerator, leaving Detroit as the only major city in the U.S. with no curbside recycling. “If we don't renew the contract with the incinerator operator and instead use a landfill, we’d have the flexibility to start and rapidly expand recycling. We’d save on tonnage, and residents could be paid for recycling.”
    Detroit Waste Incinerator: Dirty and Expensive

    My particular beef is this: Michigan's high profile environmentalists are pouring a great deal of energy into stopping wolf hunting. A worthy objective, but there are two efforts aimed at putting a permanent wolf ban in the state constitution. You can probably guess how much energy is being devoted to shutting down the Incinerator.

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 11:35:43 AM PDT

    •  i hear you. meanwhile incinerator is polluting (16+ / 0-)

      area for miles around making local residents sick.  the same situation exists in St. Petersburg, Fl which has a large incinerator and NO curbside recycling.  Residents of area think only hope is to elect progressive mayor, who advocates for curbside recycling..election is in Nov...fingers crossed.

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 11:45:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Detroit Incinerator had much higher (5+ / 0-)

      airborne toxicant emissions when it was first built than it does now.

      When that incinerator was first constructed it only had particulate emission controls in the form of a large  electrostatic precipitator and no controls at all on gaseous pollutants, such as hydrogen chloride.   The facility had high mercury emissions from batteries and other mercury wastes in trash.

      The entire emission control system for that facility was radically modified as a result of a sustained public protest, including a meeting of the Michigan Air Pollution Control Commission attended by over a thousand people.  Eventually, the Detroit Incinerator was retrofitted with fabric filter and spray dryer controls and measures to address mercury emissions.   This led to a dramatic reduction in emissions of chlorinated dibenzo dioxins/furans, mercury, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and hydrogen chloride emissions from the Detroit Incinerator.

      •  Here is information from EPA's Enforcement (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Urban Owl, LinSea, Eric Nelson, ladybug53

        and Compliance Online system concerning the Detroit Incinerator:

        http://www.epa-echo.gov/...

        The report indicates that the incinerator has 7 letters of violation since 2010 under state enforcement.   However EPA indicates the facility is not a significant CAA violator presently, so you need to actually inquire about the nature of the notices/letters of violation to see how serious MDEQ allegations were.

      •  Air permit for the Detroit Incinerator (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Urban Owl, LinSea, ladybug53

        Here is the Title V operating permit for the Detroit Incinerator, issued in 2011:

        http://www.deq.state.mi.us/...

        Here is the Michigan DEQ statement of basis on the issuance of the permit for the Detroit Incinerator:

        http://www.deq.state.mi.us/...

        Note the emission inventory information in the statement of basis.

        •  Thanks for all the facts! N/t (4+ / 0-)

          We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

          by Urban Owl on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:09:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I first started working on the matter of the (5+ / 0-)

            Detroit Incinerator in 1984 when it was first permitted and constructed.   I had challenged Randy Telesz, an MDEQ Air Quality Division permit engineer, with the question of why a dry scrubber-fabric filter control system should not be considered as the required Best Available Control Technology for the Detroit Incinerator.  

            At the time of the 1984 permit issuance, Telesz and everyone else tracking the issue in Michigan were under the impression that no other municipal waste incinerator in the United States had tried fabric filter-spray dryer emission controls (that combination is commonly known as a 'dry scrubber' and frequently used for SO2 control on western low sulfur coal.

            However, by 1986 we all found out that Combustion Engineering (CE), the contractor for the Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Authority, had permitted and was constructing a fabric filter-spray dryer-controlled municipal waste incinerator in Hartford, CT.   So at the same time CE was saying BACT was an emission limitation met using fabric filter/spray dryer emission control technology in CT, they were telling Mayor Coleman Young and the Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Authority that a 5 field electrostatic precipitator with no gaseous pollutant controls was going to be BACT in Detroit.

            As for the Detroit Incinerator itself----Mayor Coleman Young was its strongest proponent so you can ascribe blame for the Detroit Incinerator itself and its emissions to Coleman Young's stewardship of the City of Detroit and his responsiveness to his constituents at the time.

            Finally, just for the record, all of my involvements on the Detroit Incinerator were either on behalf of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter or for the American Lung Association of Michigan.

      •  Air quality is only one... (4+ / 0-)

        ...facet of the overall negative impact of the Incinerator. I stipulate that the air emissions are now far less toxic, but the "economic environment" that drives the operation of the Incinerator is as, if not more, toxic to the Detroit Metro area.

        One of the more egregious impacts is that in the drive to keep the Incinerator "at capacity" all organic waste is fed into the facility instead of composted. The city is obligated to "feed" the facility to maintain "design capacity" (now operated by an entity with the dubious nameplate "Detroit Renewable Power" because it does generate some amount of electricity) to the detriment of better options for waste management.

        When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

        by Egalitare on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:30:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Literally adding fuel to the fire (0+ / 0-)

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:21:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Long ago I wondered why so many (8+ / 0-)

    African American enclaves in American cities were on the "south" side. (South Side of Chicago, South LA, etc) Then I thought--it's a "down-river" position--they get all the "up-river" junk.

  •  Hunter's Point in (7+ / 0-)

    San Francisco- it's long been accepted folk thought that Army Street and the other streets in that area were paved partly with crushed rock from the ballast of ships returnined for scrapping from Bikini, Eniwetok, and other bomb test islands.
    I wonder how to find if this is true?
    The locals say, "Oh yeah, just run a radiation detector along those streets, you'll see."
    Of course it is mostly black, was then (1950) too.

    I buy and sell well trained riding mules and American Mammoth Jack Stock.

    by old mule on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 11:45:51 AM PDT

    •  Several groups attempted to push... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LinSea, Eric Nelson, ladybug53

      ...Hunter's Point as a site for a new 49ers Stadium and they always seemed to be quickly dismissed as "unworkable" with little explanation.

      I'm not a SF resident (though I've been a 49er fan since the day Walsh drafted Ronnie Lott) and I've never heard that speculation. It explains a lot.

      When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 11:56:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  current action to address landfill (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53

      Two Years Ago

      The Navy is just beginning to address the buried pile of old tires, kitchen waste, paper, lead and PCBs, a toxin. Workers have already spent years digging out leaky batteries and radioactive, glow-in-the-dark ship gauges, Forman said.
      Last Year
      ArcEcology is 'bird-dogging' some cleanup activities.

      "If I’m wanting what I don’t have, I’ve got to do what I ain’t done” from the song “First Light. by Grant Dermody 2010

      by RosyFinch on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:40:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Right On, Brother! (5+ / 0-)

    A clean environment and sustainable energy will happen when political decisions and economic policies are written by and in the interests of the working class instead of the capitalist class as it is right now.

    If I was a communist, rich men would fear me...And the opposite applies. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

    by stewarjt on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 11:56:40 AM PDT

  •  Soooo many jobs (8+ / 0-)

    There are so many jobs to be done, restoring the environment and making sustainable infrastructure. Thing is, so many of those jobs aren't profitable for corporations. We need a Green New Deal.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:24:05 PM PDT

  •  Check out (7+ / 0-)

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 12:29:58 PM PDT

  •  + common sense = long term human species survival (6+ / 0-)

    with cleaner & safer correlating with rise in enjoying life

  •  I have absolutely no quarrel with the concept of (5+ / 0-)

    a "right" to a thriving planet in consonance with nature.

    But especially in this country, there is a sizeable amount of libertarian types who always resist adding another "right"
    to our growing list.

    These guys must be convinced with an argument that shows them that a more sustainable planet enhances their life, and their prosperity. There are those out there who already have arguments in that regard and many of them are extremely well thought out and very common sense. We need more of this, especially because many libertarian types already hold the reins of possible change.

    For almost all of us on a place like Kos, and for all of us environmentalists (I myself being a passionate one) is a slam-dunk, of course. We're not the problem.

    "They come, they come To build a wall between us We know they won't win."--Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over."

    by Wildthumb on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:01:29 PM PDT

  •  Warring studies (0+ / 0-)

    Following the links, it does not appear to be simply the case that "According to the research, blacks, Asians, and Latinos are all significantly more likely to live in high-risk heat-island conditions than white people."

    Actually, the EHP study notes that:

    Living in a neighborhood with high HRRLC may not necessarily translate to greater risk of heat-related illness. Our finding of comparable prevalences of HRRLC [Heat Risk–Related Land Cover] in blacks and whites without adjustment for segregation or other factors (31% and 29%, respectively, vs. 50% for Hispanics) is not entirely consistent with evidence of higher risk of heat-related mortality among African Americans compared with whites (Basu and Ostro 2008; Greenberg et al. 1983; Kaiser et al. 2007; O’Neill et al. 2005; Schwartz 2005), and lower risk among Hispanics relative to whites (Basu and Ostro 2008; Whitman et al. 1997). However, consistent with our finding that Asians had the highest prevalence of HRRLC (54%), Asians were more likely to go to an emergency department for heat-related illnesses during California’s 2006 heat wave [risk ratio (RR) = 11.4; 95% CI: 5.5, 27, relative to a comparison period] than were whites (RR = 6.3; 95% CI: 5.4, 7.3), Hispanics (RR = 6.5; 95% CI: 5.3, 8.0), or blacks (RR = 5.3; 95% CI: 3.8, 7.4) (Knowlton et al. 2009).
    The National Action Network study cited claims that, "Many low income people and minorities face environmental challenges that threaten their health and their lifestyle. In Los Angeles, African Americans are twice as likely to die in a heat wave. "

    But the EHP study (admittedly, a statistical morass, if ever there was one), says that:

    Living in a neighborhood with high HRRLC may not necessarily translate to greater risk of heat-related illness. Our finding of comparable prevalences of HRRLC in blacks and whites without adjustment for segregation or other factors (31% and 29%, respectively, vs. 50% for Hispanics) is not entirely consistent with evidence of higher risk of heat-related mortality among African Americans compared with whites (Basu and Ostro 2008; Greenberg et al. 1983; Kaiser et al. 2007; O’Neill et al. 2005; Schwartz 2005), and lower risk among Hispanics relative to whites (Basu and Ostro 2008; Whitman et al. 1997). However, consistent with our finding that Asians had the highest prevalence of HRRLC (54%), Asians were more likely to go to an emergency department for heat-related illnesses during California’s 2006 heat wave [risk ratio (RR) = 11.4; 95% CI: 5.5, 27, relative to a comparison period] than were whites (RR = 6.3; 95% CI: 5.4, 7.3), Hispanics (RR = 6.5; 95% CI: 5.3, 8.0), or blacks (RR = 5.3; 95% CI: 3.8, 7.4) (Knowlton et al. 2009).
    It goes on to speculate:
    Some of this inconsistency may be explained by other risk factors that are also associated with heat-related illness. Existing racial/ethnic disparities in chronic diseases that increase susceptibility to heat such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes (Bouchama et al. 2007; Schwartz 2005), differential representation in physical and outdoor occupations (Greenberg et al. 1983), unequal access to air conditioning (English et al. 2007; O’Neill et al. 2005), and social isolation (Klinenberg 2002) may explain a good deal of the observed disparate health outcomes despite relatively similar land cover characteristics between blacks and whites.
    However, this remains speculation. The NAN assertion should probably be toned down until it has been nailed down.
    •  Apology (0+ / 0-)

      I accidentally posted this while I was still editing, but I think the points are clear enough as is, so I'm not going to put up another version. [If there is a way to grab back a post for revision, I don't know about it].

    •  well of course, a life with economic challenges (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber

      such as types of employment, ability to have air condition, green space, location etc. is a contributor to health impacts of heat and pollution.  That's what the study is about.

      Macca's Meatless Monday

      by VL Baker on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:30:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "sacrafice zones' effecting lower income workers.. (4+ / 0-)

    ..much more than those that can afford to live in NIMBY zones.

    This Dairy by Kossck Marcia G Yerman covers the people effected by the Keystone pipeline pollution at both ends. Port Arthur, Texas and Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta, Canada

    The Keystone Pipeline Is An Environmental Justice Issue

    What do Indigenous people living in Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta, Canada have in common with communities of color in Port Arthur, Texas?

    The answer is the Keystone XL Pipeline—and the correlation isn’t positive. If anything, the connection shows how those without the clout of power and money are left holding the bag.

    Once again, this point needs to be examined as non-affluent, non-white communities are consistently having their lives and well-being impacted while others benefit from choices that sustain their respective interests and safety.

    With links to EPA head Gina McCarthy who I am hoping will put the EPA in much  stronger control of carbon emmissions as one major purpose.

    This:

    It's time for civil rights activists to join with environmental activists to fight the most
     dangerous challenge to our species: climate change. The two groups need each other.
    Thx VL Baker - luv the joining of the two as one purpose

    P.S. Equality of environmental protection demanded as a civil right: If/when the wealthiest no longer are allowed to get preferential treatment above others by concentrating the worst pollution industries in areas with people who have the least voice in government maybe just maybe that potential of exposure to the pollution, the most privileged themselves will put their money in demanding a clean & safe planet.

  •  i love your diaries (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VL Baker, Glen The Plumber

    More then any other series Vl.
    You inspire me and give me hope.

    "My Mom is my hero, my angel and I revere her to no end.." Christin, July 6, 2013

    by Christin on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 03:36:02 PM PDT

  •  I strongly disagree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VL Baker

    A human right, not a civil right.

    For years I approach this as a basic human right and the behavior required to produce it a obligation.

    In the Chinese eco community I was one of the group promoting "eco citizenship" as a civic duty and positive image on the basis of fundamental obligation as a human and fundamental right of all beings.

    I realize that sounds a bit abstract but philosophy is also important as it defines us and motivates us.

  •  What a wonderful dream. Sharing it with you. (0+ / 0-)

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site