Pollution As A Social Justice Issue

When President Trump decided to repeal the Obama Era Clean Air Act, and enacted his Affordable Clean Air Energy Rule he allowed states to determine their own regulations on standards for things like emissions pollution. For neighborhoods around coal plants that is important because if the state you live in doesn’t create strict regulations, you are more likely to be affected by the carbon emissions.

For example, Newport News a city in Southern Virginia has one of the highest carbon emissions in the country and when there is a high amount of carbon emissions the health of the residents in those areas is a risk. A Web MD study details how the increased carbon in the atmosphere causes plants to increase their pollen production and that increases the cases of asthma cases and other respiratory issues. The communities that have these coal factories in them tend to be poor communities and poor communities of color.

Race and socioeconomic status play a large role in the way that these issue are resolved. Coal mining is a traditionally working class job, so coal miners tend to come from low income households. When the coal industry was booming people moved into these areas and when the economy change these people could not afford to move away from the area. This group disproportionately includes people from a low socioeconomic status and people of color.

According to an EPA study Ohio is ranked number 5 out of 56 states based on toxins released by square mile. In the Appalachian Region in Southern Ohio, where the coal mines used to be there is going to be a higher level of emissions per square mile than in other parts of Ohio.


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