Biden Pledges $20 Billion to Dismantle Highways, Racial Justice Activists Cautiously Celebrate

Biden Pledges $20 Billion to Dismantle Highways, Racial Justice Activists Cautiously Celebrate

President Biden’s new infrastructure plan contains something surprising — funding for “construction” projects to remove highways. Why?  Because for decades, Black communities in cities across the U.S. have been cut off and/or divided by highways and major roads that were built without regard to their impact on those neighborhoods

Why This Matters: Highways built in the 50s and 60s often came at the expense of communities of color. Their impact enforced segregation, disrupt thriving communities, and distanced Black people from city resources and job opportunities.

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The Public is Ready to Recycle as Congress Reintroduces Sweeping Plastics Reform click button

The Public is Ready to Recycle as Congress Reintroduces Sweeping Plastics Reform

Last week, federal legislators reintroduced the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, which would pass sweeping recycling and single-use plastic regulations.  Experts from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) say that this bill has come at the right time, publishing a national poll that found 86% of Americans believe the U.S. must transition from a throw-away economy to one that emphasizes reuse and recycling.

Why This Matters: The U.S. is the largest plastic polluter in the world but only recycles 8.7% of its plastics. Much of that plastic takes the form of consumer packaging like plastic bags, wrappers, straws, and more.

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One Cool Thing: Virginia Says Goodbye to Clamshells

One Cool Thing: Virginia Says Goodbye to Clamshells

Despite an uptick in its use during the pandemic, Virginia will soon ban the use of styrofoam containers for food products — Governor Ralph Northam signed the new law on Tuesday — with the bans set to go into effect next year.  Large food sellers (those with 20 or more locations) will not be allowed […]

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Trump Administration Restart of Huge St. Croix Oil Refinery Raises EJ Concerns

Trump Administration Restart of Huge St. Croix Oil Refinery Raises EJ Concerns

The idyllic island of St. Croix, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is a Caribbean paradise — and also the site of one of America’s largest oil refineries. The Limetree Bay oil refinery caused one of the biggest oil spills in U.S. history and violated the Clean Air Act, and until early this year had been idled since 2012. 

Why this Matters: The refinery provides jobs on the island that had been hurt by two hurricanes in 2017.  But it also raises numerous troubling issues, not the least of which is that the majority of people living near the refinery are Black and nearly a third identify as Hispanic or Latino, and many are poor.

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Gas Flaring Wastes Energy and Pollutes the Air – Why is it Still Happening? click button

Gas Flaring Wastes Energy and Pollutes the Air – Why is it Still Happening?

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.

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New Study Finds It’s Noisy in the Deep

New Study Finds It’s Noisy in the Deep

New scientific research sheds light on a growing problem — ocean noise pollution — but the good news is that this one is solvable.  The problem is that much of ocean life depends on sound for survival and when anthropogenic noise increases, it drowns out the soundscapes that guide ocean life, The New York Times reports.

Why This Matters:  Impacts of noise had been documented on marine mammals like dolphins, but now it is clear it impacts a wide variety of marine life, including zooplankton and jellyfish.

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