In 2010, Artists Project Earth funded a great little project called Visualising Little Village in Chicago – which aimed to raise awareness within the community about how it is always the poor, disenfranchised and mostly black and ethnic minorities which are most impacted by the fossil-fuel industry.
It is no coincidence that coal-fired power stations are always located in poor districts of town as governors ensure and perpetuate the ‘Not-In-My-Backyard syndrome. Now Little Village Environmental Justice Organisation have produced a comprehensive Report which outlines exactly how these communities are impacted – and it makes for shocking reading.
America is hooked on coal – and that addiction has remained constant for four decades. America will even destroy its beautiful mountain-tops to mine coal, even though the impacts on local communities and biodiversity are many and severe.
While many other countries in the world are moving towards cleaner energy sources, almost half of the US’s electricity is generated by highly-polluting coal-fired power stations. What is more, 75 of these power stations are failing (in that they do not meet regulatory standards), and because they are situated in poorer neighbourhoods, it is the most disenfranchised members of society who are bearing the brunt. Nearly six million Americans live within 3 miles of a coal-fired power station. They have an average income of $18,000 which is well below the US average of $21,000. Over 39% are people of colour, compared with the average of 36% in the total population.
Coal plants kill and low income communities and communities of colour experience the highest mortality burden, therefore, coal-fired power stations are the perpetrators of climate injustice.
“In order to protect this highly profitable business — and, more broadly, to protect their industry from environmental regulations —many coal energy companies dedicate substantial resources for lobbying and public relations.”
This Report is a must-read for all those interested in climate justice, with paticular reference to coal-fired power stations. The experiences in the US are replicated all over the world.