Communities of Color Face Brunt of Fossil Fuels’ Harmful Effects and COVID-19
HELENA, MT – New research from Western Values Project found that less than 1% of the extractive resource corporations that were awarded relief through the Trump administration’s flawed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) were owned by people of color. In addition to communities of color being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Big Oil continues to poison and take advantage of them.
“The same Big Oil and extractive corporations owned by wealthy white men who are fueling Trump’s re-election campaign siphoned off relief funds meant for struggling small businesses while Black and minority neighborhoods bore the brunt of front-line impacts from the sector’s toxic pollution. The Trump administration’s failed pandemic response has only exacerbated the situation,”said Western Values Project DeputyPress Secretary Aliyah Rich. “The extractive resource sector has a serious lack of diversity in leadership positions and is overwhelmingly dominated by white men, leaving little to no room to make informed decisions about the marginalized communities these companies overwhelmingly harm with their activities.”
This isn’t a new problem for a sector that has a long history of racism and sexism, but there is no doubt that the economic collapse and ensuing relief programs administered by the Trump administration have exacerbated the harm. Studies have shown a complete lack of diversity in the fossil fuel and extractive resource sectors. EDF recently released a poll that shows many white Americans are unaware of the unequal burden of pollution. Too often, communities of color don’t have a seat at the table nor a voice in the room when it comes to extractive resource corporations. Without it, these polluting corporations make decisions that negatively impact communities of color without input.
There are places around the country like St. James Parish, Louisiana, which has been aptly named “Cancer Alley” due to the high rates of cancer among community members directly linked to the pollution released by the 150 industrial facilities that line the alley. Cancer Alley is a predominately Black area — which is no coincidence considering that extractive resource corporations typically set up shop in vulnerable neighborhoods whose concerns and objections are often ignored by industry-backed elected officials as well.
Previous work by the watchdog group Accountable.US detailed how the Trump administration has failed minority-owned businesses.
Read the full Western Values Project research here.