Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
A recent freedom of information request by the Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin revealed that EPA officials under pressure from President Trump, overruled concerns of career scientists about air pollution and public health in an effort to help Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn secure $4 billion in tax breaks to build a flat-screen factory in Racine County, WI.
The EPA Had Previously Recommended labeling Racine County as violating federal air quality standards for ozone in 2017 but after appeals from then-Governor Scott Walker (R) suddenly ignored evidence and ruled in 2018 that Racine was in compliance with the ground-level smog standard. This meant that Foxconn didn’t have to spend millions to install state-of-the-art pollution controls at its manufacturing plant.
Scientists were completely taken aback by the decision. EPA scientist Lars Perlmutt wrote to his colleagues last April in regard to his agency’s decision to delist Racine to say “My background is in air pollution health effects and more specifically on acute exposures, so for me personally this is hard to digest and support.”
So what now? According to the Chicago Tribune:
“Faced with a legal challenge from environmental groups and a coalition of cities and states, including Chicago and Illinois, federal lawyers are having second thoughts about Pruitt’s controversial decision. In a few densely worded paragraphs buried at the end of a 63-page document, attorneys for the EPA and Justice Department asked a federal appeals court this month for what, in legal terms, amounts to a do-over.”
Why This Matters: As Reuters explained, “Racine County has suffered some of the state’s worst cases of smog, also known as ozone, pollution that causes premature deaths from lung and heart complications.” Foxconn promised to bring 13,000 jobs to Racine and President Trump was looking for the positive PR rather using the power of his office to protect Americans from harmful pollution. Regardless of the fact that the manufacturing surge experienced under Trump seems to be cooling (largely due to his trade war), dirty industries should be pushed to clean up their act, innovate, and not get carte blanche to pollute our air and water. In the long run, are the lives lost due to air pollution (a lethal killer) worth a temporary bump in jobs?
Gas flaring was responsible for Texas’s recent increase in oil refinery pollution, but it’s hardly a new problem. We’re less than a decade away from the UN’s goal of Zero Routine Flaring by 2030, but refineries still flare 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas each year, releasing 400 million tons of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants into the atmosphere.
Why This Matters: Companies have historically practiced gas flaring as a convenient and inexpensive way to “dispose of ” gas that was extracted alongside oil, as opposed to storing paying to store it.
Despite over four million Texans losing power during the recent deep freeze, oil refineries released an increased amount of pollution into the air. In a state that leads the nation in both power production and carbon emissions, experts say that failure to winterize power infrastructure resulted in harmful releases of toxic air pollution.
Why This Matters: Texas is the nation’s leading power producer, and to achieve this, the state has heavily deregulated not only its power grid but the fossil fuel industry as well.
People riding American subway lines are exposed to air pollution that’s worse than a bad day in Beijing, according to new research that studied subway networks in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and D.C.
Why this Matters: We hope Secretary Pete takes note because this is an environmental justice issue.
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.