10 Ways the EPA Is Making Life Worse for Black and Brown Americans
1. CAR AND TRUCK POLLUTION ENDANGERS COMMUNITIES NEAR HIGHWAYS
The EPA rolled back public health safeguards for greenhouse gas emissions from cars. In addition to massive climate harm, this rollback will increase air pollution for those living near highways. Because of decades of residential segregation, African Americans tend to live closer to major roadways and will be disproportionately harmed by this rollback.
2. WEAK PARTICLE POLLUTION STANDARDS HARM LUNGS AND HEARTS, AND INCREASES DEATH
The EPA proposed to retain the current standards for particle pollution, despite substantial scientific evidence that the current standards are too weak. While this threatens the health of all Americans, it has a disproportionate impact on non-white communities: Black Americans are exposed to 50% more particle pollution compared to whites.
3. IGNORING THE SCIENCE ON SMOG MAKES ASTHMA WORSE AND INCREASES LUNG INFECTIONS
The EPA has also proposed to retain the current standards for ground-level ozone, or smog, a powerful lung irritant and asthma trigger. Robust scientific evidence indicates that these standards do not sufficiently
protect public health. African Americans are more likely to live in counties with worse ozone pollution.
4. ROLLING BACK METHANE PROTECTIONS ALLOWS POLLUTION TO SPEW UNCHECKED
The EPA has eliminated regulation of methane emissions across the oil and gas sector. This will allow significant climate pollution to spew unchecked and will increase air pollution for those living near oil and gas operations.
There are 9.5 million Americans who live within half a mile of an oil or gas well. 2.7 million are people of color, and 1.4 million are people living below the poverty line.
5. WEAKENING MERCURY PROTECTIONS WILL CAUSE PREMATURE DEATHS AND ASTHMA ATTACKS
The EPA has weakened the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) — safeguards that prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths and 130,000 asthma attacks each year – claiming that these standards, which prevent pollution from coal plants, are not “appropriate and necessary.” Because 68% of Blacks live within 30 miles of a coal plant, attacking this rule poses an outside burden on Black Americans.
6. ELIMINATING THE CLEAN POWER PLAN INCREASES POLLUTION IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR
The EPA revoked the Clean Power Plan of 2015, which curtailed climate-harming carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector. The EPA replaced the Clean Power Plan with a policy that does virtually nothing to reduce climate pollution and is expected to result in increased local pollution from many plants – whose neighbors are disproportionately likely to be communities of color and low-income communities.
7. CREATING AN AIR TOXICS LOOPHOLE COULD LEAD TO 2.4 MILLION POUNDS OF POLLUTION
EPA has proposed a rule that would allow up to 3,900 major sources of air pollution to avoid regulation. EPA estimated that this loophole could lead to an additional 2.4 million pounds per year of hazardous air pollution. Many of these pollution sources are located in areas with disproportionately high numbers of low-income and minority residents.
8. REFUSING TO BAN CHLORPYRIFOS HARMS CHILDREN’S DEVELOPING BRAINS
The EPA decided not to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, despite overwhelming scientific evidence, affirmed by EPA scientists, that its residue on food causes harm to children’s developing brains. Chlorpyrifos is used disproportionately by Latino farmers and immigrant workers, who are likely to be highly exposed to this neurotoxicant chemical.
9. WEAKENING COAL ASH STANDARDS ALLOWS CHEMICALS TO LEAK INTO GROUNDWATER
The EPA has proposed several rules to loosen standards for managing and disposing of waste from coal plants. Coal ash contains carcinogens and is often stored in unlined pits, risking chemicals leaking into groundwater.
Black and brown Americans, and low-income families, are more likely to live near coal ash ponds, compared to the national average.
10. CENSORING SCIENCE LEADS TO WEAKER PUBLIC HEALTH PROTECTIONS
The EPA has proposed to prevent the agency from considering certain types of research when setting pollution standards, and the censored research includes some of the most important population-level studies establishing the link between air pollution and premature death. This rule will lead to weaker public health protections and impact the lives of millions of families nationwide, with a disproportionate burden on people of color.
Updated: October, 2020