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Reduce Pollution in Minority Communities

80 signatures toward our 50,000 Goal

0.16% Complete

Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

No one should be forced to live in a polluted environment because of the color of their skin.


Poor air quality is one of the deadliest killers in the Unites States, claiming more than 100,000 lives every year. That's more than the deaths attributed to car crashes and homicides combined1.

Microscopic pollution from gases from carbon emissions - smokestacks, tailpipes, and other sources - pass through the lungs and into bloodstreams. This leads to serious health issues like asthma and cancer. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) these particles, more than 25 times smaller than the width of a human hair, pose the greatest risk to people's health2.

For people of color, particularly Black or Latino, the danger is much worse. Minority populations are more likely to live near toxic facilities3, and breathe in more polluted air than white communities across the US, according to the NAACP's 2012 "Coal-Blooded" study4. U.S. minorities are further 38% more likely to be exposed to the asthma-causing pollutant nitrogen oxide from climate-warming cars, construction equipment, and industrial sources like coal plants, despite the fact that they make up only 13% of the population3.

Humans have an individual responsibility to look after their own heath through diet and exercise, but environmental factors are beyond the control of most individuals, especially the "social determinants of health," including where people are born, live, learn, work, and play5.

A 2016 study in Environment International found that long-term exposure to microscopic air pollution is associated with racial segregation, with more highly segregated areas suffering higher levels of exposure6. Two years later, researchers found that stricter emissions regulations in these areas reduces pollution levels without hampering growth7.

Just as it has been relaxing coal and fossil fuel rules over the last four years, the EPA also has the authority to limit carbon emissions in vulnerable regions.

The Clean Power Plan, finalized in 2015, could reduce carbon emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030, but it is still held up by lawsuits against an administration that denies science and compassion for profits. The EPA must approve the Clean Power Plan today to protect the lives of millions of Americans8.

No one should be forced to live in a polluted environment because of the color of their skin.

Sign the petition and tell EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to enact rules that limit carbon emissions in predominately minority communities.

  1. Doyle Rice, USA Today, (11 March 2019), "Study finds a race gap in air pollution — whites largely cause it; blacks and Hispanics breathe it."
  2. Tracy Fernandez Rysavy, André Floyd, Green America, "People of Color Are on the Front Lines of the Climate Crisis."
  3. NAACP (2012), "Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People."
  4. Eillie Anzilotti, Fast Company, (20 March 2019), "White people cause the most pollution, but people of color suffer the most from it."
  5. Mercedes A. Bravo, Rebecca Anthopolosa, Michelle L. Bell, Marie Lynn Miranda, Environment International (July-August 2016), "Racial isolation and exposure to airborne particulate matter and ozone in understudied US populations: Environmental justice applications of downscaled numerical model output."
  6. Rejane Frederick, Center for American Progress (10 May 2018), "The Environment That Racism Built."
  7. Christopher W. Tessum, Joshua S. Apte, Andrew L. Goodkind, Nicholas Z. Muller, Kimberley A. Mullins, David A. Paolella, Stephen Polasky, Nathaniel P. Springer, Sumil K. Thakrar, Julian D. Marshall, Jason D. Hill, Procedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (4 November 2019) "Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial-ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure."
  8. Eilie Anzilotti, Fast Company (20 March 2019), "White people cause the most pollution, but people of color suffer the most from it."
  9. Elvina Nawaguna, Governing (21 June 2019), "As EPA Finalizes New Carbon Emissions Rule, Blue States Gear Up for Legal Battle."
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The Petition:

Dear EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler,

Microscopic pollution from gases from smokestacks, and cars cause serious health issues like asthma and cancer. According to your own Environmental Protection Agency data, these particles pose the greatest risk to people's health of all environmental threats.

For people of color, particularly Black or Latino, the danger is much worse. Minority populations are more likely to live near toxic facilities and breathe in more polluted air than white communities. Minorities are 38% more likely to be exposed to the asthma-causing pollutant nitrogen oxide from climate-warming cars, construction equipment, and industrial sources like coal plants, despite the fact that they make up only 13% of the population.

A 2016 study in Environment International found that long-term exposure to microscopic air pollution is associated with racial segregation and areas of lower socio-economic stability. But it has also been shown that stricter emissions regulations in these areas can reduce pollution levels without hampering economic growth.

The Clean Power Plan, finalized in 2015, could reduce carbon emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030, but it is still held up by lawsuits. I demand you implement the 2015 Clean Power Plan today and protect the lives of millions of Americans.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: