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Climate Pollution


Oil- and chemical-refinery plants cover the landscape next to a Black community along the Mississippi River south of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as seen in this 1998 photo.

Keith Hirokawa is associate dean of research and scholarship at Albany Law School, and Rachel Patterson is policy lead at Evergreen Action.

On the campaign trail in 2020, Joe Biden promised that his administration would direct 40 percent of the benefits from climate- and clean energy-related investments toward communities that have been historically marginalized and overburdened by pollution. This promise led to the Justice40 initiative. To implement it, the Council on Environmental Quality developed the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, which maps disadvantaged neighborhoods based on pollution factors like proximity to toxic waste sites and socio-economic factors like income. But the tool has a glaring flaw: It intentionally omits race from the list of considerations.

The Council is soliciting feedback on the draft screening tool through April 25 and will consider comments as it develops the final version — which means there’s still time to tell the Biden administration to change course.

We’ve known for decades that racism is inextricably linked to environmental inequities due to racially motivated land-use patt... Read more

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