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For 25 Years, Taxpayers Picked Up Polluters’ Superfund Bill. That May Finally Change.

For 15 years, the industries responsible for the nation’s worst toxic pollution helped pay into a federal trust for cleaning up waste sites through special taxes on petroleum, chemical components and corporate income. That program became known as “Superfund.” But in 1995, the Republican-led Congress allowed those taxes to expire. They have never been reinstated, [...]

‘There’s No Memory of the Joy.’ Why 40 Years of Superfund Work Hasn’t Saved Tar Creek

One of the first Superfund sites in the United States remains one of the most polluted. From the late 1800s through the 1960s, miners extracted lead and zinc from the ground beneath the Tar Creek area in northeastern Oklahoma. But 50 years after the mine was shuttered, the region’s toxic legacy still seeps from boreholes [...]

Fossil Fuel Racism

Fossil fuels — coal, oil, and gas — lie at the heart of the crises we face, including public health, racial injustice, and climate change. This report synthesizes existing research and provides new analysis that finds that the fossil fuel industry contributes to public health harms that kill hundreds of thousands of people in the [...]

‘This is environmental racism’ How a protest in a North Carolina farming town sparked a national movement

Ben Chavis was driving on a lonely road through rolling tobacco fields when he looked in his rearview mirror and saw the state trooper. Chavis knew he was a marked man. Protests had erupted over North Carolina’s decision to dump 40,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals in a poor Black farming community in Warren [...]

Can a wildlife refuge help a community’s fight for environmental justice?

Albuquerque’s South Valley was once a thriving oasis of food production watered by a network of historic irrigation canals, or acequias. Today it’s home to several historic neighborhoods along the Rio Grande including Mountain View. After much of the area was rezoned in the 1960s, the residents, who are mainly Chicanos as well as recent immigrants, [...]

Environmental Protection Agency launches crackdown on pollution that disproportionately affects people of color

Michael Regan, head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, has sought to revive the effort to confront environmental racism by ordering the agency to crack down on the pollution that disproportionately blights people of color. On Wednesday, Regan issued a directive to EPA staff to “infuse equity and environmental justice principles and priorities into all EPA [...]

How people of color are targeted in ‘sacrifice zones’

The Black Lives Matter movement and the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted how systemic racism disproportionately places danger and harm on low-income and minority populations. One harsh reality of this systemic racism is the existence of "sacrifice zones," which are communities located near pollution hot spots that have been permanently impaired by intensive and concentrated industrial [...]

Kick the Fracking Industry Out of Indian Country

On Sunday, The Guardian published a comprehensive report on the environmental, health, and legal issues raised by fracking in the Eastern Agency of the Navajo Nation. In particular, the outlet highlighted instances in which fracking wells owned by Denver-based gas and oil company Enduring Resources had either exploded or malfunctioned, contaminating nearby water sources. In one case from 2019, [...]

Targeting federal spending to help EPA promote environmental justice

Given all that we know about racial injustice and its devastating effects on the health of people and the planet, it is shocking how few resources the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has devoted to promoting environmental justice. In 2019, the EPA budget was 1,500 times the size of its environmental justice budget, just one staff position in 650 [...]

One researcher’s quest to quantify the environmental cost of abandoned oil wells

Amy Townsend-Small has been chasing methane her entire professional life. The quest has taken her from Southern California freeways to sewage plants to animal feedlots. Sniffing out the potent greenhouse gas, which traps 86 times as much heat as carbon dioxide after it’s emitted into the atmosphere, has required her to breathalyze cows and take [...]

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