What’s at Stake in 2020: Clean Air and Water


October 27, 2020

Clean air and water are on the ballot in 2020. The Trump Administration is willing to sacrifice Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities for the sake of corporate power and profit.

The Phillips 66 Los Angeles Refinery is visible from the West Basin during a tour of the fossil fuel infrastructure in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to demonstrate the health and environmental justice impacts on local communities. Co-hosted by Communities for a Better Environment, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, and Greenpeace USA.

Picture this: you walk outside of your home into a wall of acrid, hazardous fumes wafting towards you from the petrochemical plant a few miles down the road. The smell fills your nostrils and your throat constricts. Your chest heaves. You struggle to breathe while you walk to your car. Once inside, you desperately gasp to breathe in semi-fresh air. You fumble for your inhaler.

Unbreathable air. Toxic water. Oil rigs and petrochemical refineries next to schools and day care centers. Cancer, lung disease, and COVID-19. This is life in this country’s “sacrifice zones” — primarily low-income or Black, Brown, and Indigenous neighborhoods and towns where fossil fuel polluters operate with total disregard for public health, all to make a quick buck.

Sacrifice zones existed long before Donald Trump became president — but his administration has done pretty much everything they can to make these injustices worse. Trump’s administration has spent the last four years rolling back key environmental regulations and issuing executive orders to loosen the reins on polluting industries. Trump’s pro-corporate agenda aims to make it easier for fossil fuel companies and chemical manufacturers to operate without following health and safety regulations vital for protecting public health.

The record is clear: The Trump Administration is willing to sacrifice Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities for the sake of corporate power and profit.

No more sacrifice zones. Four more years of Trump’s pro-polluter agenda could decimate any remaining protections for communities living in the shadow of polluting facilities. What’s worse: we won’t be able to enact new climate and environmental protections these communities desperately need unless we vote climate leaders into office. Make sure you, your family and friends have made a plan to vote.

Grassroots groups and organizations such as Greenpeace have been fighting for decades to keep corporations from polluting the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the places we call home. Our movement has won important victories: landmark environmental laws such as the National Environmental Protection Act. Essential protection for public lands and waters. Cleaner air in our major cities.

But we know our collective work is not done until every family and community can live a good life, with clean air and water and the safety of a stable climate. Our work is not done until we’ve eradicated the systemic racism that marks communities of color as disposable. Our work is not done until there are no more sacrifice zones, whether here in the U.S. or in communities across the Global South.

We need leaders in office at all levels — in the White House, Congress, state houses, city councils — ready to do the work with us. To enact and enforce protections necessary to safeguard everyone currently living among petrochemical manufacturing or fossil fuel extraction.

You have just over a week to cast your vote. Take a moment to make sure you’re set to vote environmental leaders into office on or before Nov. 3rd. Already voted? Share this email with your friends and family so they can vote for the environment as well.

Over the past few years we’ve seen corporate polluters amass more and more political power. They’ll stop at nothing in pursuit of profits, even if it means poisoning communities of color and working class families. Toxic pollution has been linked to public health crises such as chronic respiratory illnesses and preterm birth defects. Climate pollution is fueling a crisis that threatens the same communities dying from polluted air and poisoned water.

We need elected officials who will fight like hell to confront these corporate polluters head-on and defend Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities on the frontlines of pollution.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, we will continue to fight tirelessly for a world beyond toxic pollution and fossil fuel extraction. We believe this world is not just possible, but inevitable — if we fight for it.

A bright future is on the horizon. And right now, we have the opportunity to elect leaders who we can hold accountable to protect low-income communities of color on the frontlines of pollution, and put an end to sacrifice zones. Don’t sit this election out. Vote before Nov. 3rd to elect leaders who will defend our communities and the environment.

make a plan to vote

The fight doesn’t end on November 3, and we’re joining progressive groups nationwide in preparing for all possibilities. If a mass mobilization is needed to take to the streets to protect the election results and the integrity of our democracy, Greenpeace is ready. Get prepared.

As the deadline for voting approaches, we’re pulling out all the stops to make sure that you, your friends, family, neighbors, and every environmental voter has their voice heard before the polls close. Our “What’s at Stake” series highlights a key issue that’s on the ballot. If you haven’t voted yet, now is the time. If people in your circle are on the fence, please share this post or have a conversation with them today.


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