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It’s Air Quality Awareness Week: Who Bears the Brunt of Air Pollution?

This week (May 2-6) is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Air Quality Awareness Week. Unfortunately, the EPA is still giving the green light to projects (e.g. new power plants) which poison the air and compromise the health and wellbeing of local communities and wildlife.

In fact, Wild Equity has spent years challenging the EPA’s ongoing failure to protect communities and endangered species in Antioch, CA, from PG&E’s Gateway Generating Station- a power plant that emits tons of nitrogen pollution annually, poisoning sensitive wildlife habitats and irritating the lungs of local residents. The EPA has allowed Gateway Generating Station to pollute without performing a legally mandated consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service about the pollution’s impact on endangered species at the adjacent Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge- the last home for one of our nation’s most imperiled butterflies.

Achieving environmental justice has always been the backbone of Wild Equity’s mission. It is far too often the underprivileged, the poor, working-class communities of color that are disproportionately burdened with the impacts of pollution and of climate change. This paradigm is evident in many scenarios that have drastically altered the way of life in some communities, a few of many examples being:

Flint, Michigan, a predominantly African American town, the highly toxic tap water is unsuitable for drinking, cooking, or bathing. The residents of Flint have no choice but to cook, drink, bathe with bottled water because of their contaminated water supply.

Wilmington, a Los Angeles ethnic minority neighborhood dense with oil drilling operations, residents have spent years suffering from frequent headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, and other health-related issues due to exposure to drilling-related pollution. Wilmington has received little media attention, as opposed to the natural gas leak at Porter Ranch, an affluent neighborhood with a majority white population.

Kettleman City, CA, a community that is over 96% of Hispanic or Latino origin, is located amongst oil wells and a massive hazardous waste dump site. The town has been plagued with contaminated water, polluted air, abnormally high rates of birth defects, infant mortality, and cancer.

Regrettably, environmental injustices are still ever-present and we still have a long fight ahead, but we will continue to fight for the people, plants, and wildlife whose voices go unheard, and hope you will join us. Thank you for supporting Wild Equity, and click here to get involved with our work!