Monthly Archives: July 2010

Can a New EPA Database Reduce Environmental Injustice?

Digital Image by Alberto Roblest

The New York Times reported yesterday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is rolling out a new database that slices and dices demographic statistics like poverty and infant mortality rates along with an index of  “pollution events.”  The aim is to pinpoint communities bearing an unfair proportion of health problems related to environmental ones.

It’s been dubbed an “environmental justice initiative.”  But it’s more about identifying places with the most environmental injustices. In communities already saddled with lots of pollution, the database could supply local activists with ammunition to block new power plants, garbage dumps, oil and gas depots, etc.

The story notes gaps in knowledge and scientific study that could undermine the tool’s usefulness. That doesn’t bode well for a related question: Will the EPA ranking system be precise and compelling enough to bolster grassroots legal challenges over such things as air pollution, contaminated water supplies and so-called “cancer clusters.” Increasingly, such suits are landing in courts in this country and abroad but judges and juries haven’t always bought arguments tying, say, a town’s cancer rate and a particular factory’s emissions.

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NH Public Radio Interview

I was interviewed by Virginia Prescott on New Hampshire Public Radio’s  Word of Mouth talk show earlier this week. We discussed the close ties between some of the country’s biggest environmental groups and corporate polluters like BP and the brewing grassroots rebellion over the future of the movement and the country. Click to hear.

BP Spill a Chance to Move Country Off Oil?

Hello there! Sorry I have been such a neglectful blogger of late. Life — it’s complicated and takes up way too much of my time. But, anyway, I thought my faithful readers (all two of you who continue to check this site … Oh, wait a minute, I think there were three yesterday!) would want to have this link to my new piece in The Nation. It’s part of the magazine’s “energy issue,” a 4 article package that looks at the topic from different angles. Mine’s on what environmentalists are doing to try to move the country forward on a “clean energy” path. I won’t spoil it by telling you more here. Go read the story!