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Zach Wahls @ZachWahls
, 10 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Take it from a former environmental engineering student — environmental racism is real, and this shouldn't be controversial. Here's an easy illustration of what this dynamic is and why it's a serious problem.
Living near coal-fired power plants is bad for your health. (And this has nothing to do with climate change.) Burning coal releases all kinds of things that are bad for your lungs: heavy metals, coal ash, particulate matter. Inhaling this stuff creates real health problems.
As a result, the land immediately surrounding coal-fired power plants tends to be much less expensive than land that does not have a coal-fired power plant around it. Easy to understand, right? Living near a coal plant is unhealthy, therefore, the land surrounding it is cheaper.
On top of that, if you're a company looking to *build* a coal-fired power plant, and you *know* it's going to lower property values, you're probably going to try and pick an area where the residents have less political power, right?
Add all of this up, and you can start to understand why 78% of African Americans live within a 30-mile radius of a coal power plant and only 56% of white Americans do.
And it's not just coal-fired power plants. It's landfills. It's superfund sites. It's chemical processing plants. It's refineries. For every single one of these, if you are white, you are less likely to live near one of these facilities than if you are black or brown.
Can't believe I have to say this, but it's not that pollution is bigoted. Pollution doesn't care! Environmental racism reflects that America has a massive income/wealth gap that falls along racial lines and the environment is made much worse in poor, non-white areas by pollution.
And this how our system keeps people down:

Your family doesn't have much money ➡️ you have to move to the affordable part of town ➡️ i.e. near the landfill/refinery/coal plant ➡️ your kids are less healthy ➡️ they struggle in school ➡️ hard to get a good paying job ➡️ repeat
Our environment isn't racist. People who don't care about race (or poor people generally, for that matter) pollute our environment in ways that make it harder for low-income folks to have a fair shot. Non-whites are more likely to be poor than whites, so this has racial impacts.
But, by all means, please try to suggest @Ocasio2018 doesn't know what she's talking about when she talks about environmental racism. If you don't know it exists, why it exists, or how it's perpetrated, I can guarantee she knows more than you do.
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