“Like raindrops but yellow” — mapping pollution in Cancer Alley

“Like raindrops but yellow” — mapping pollution in Cancer Alley

Protests calling attention to profound rates of industrial pollution in “Death Alley,” more commonly referred to as “Cancer Alley,” have resulted in multiple arrests this week. Meanwhile, Louisiana has approved seven new facilities in the area that will be “major sources” of toxic air pollution, according to the EPA’s criteria. Five additional plants are pending approval at the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. As these plants move forward, Tristan Baurick, Lylla Younes and Joan Meiners, of ProPublica and The Advocate | The Times Picayune, have published an extensive and eye-opening report on what a half-century of barely regulated industrial pollution has done to the communities between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, along with an interactive map by Lylla Younes, Al Shaw and Claire Perlman that models cancer-causing chemicals released by industrial plant emissions.

Many of the new plants planned in Louisiana’s petrochemical heart are being built in or near communities that EPA models estimate already have some of the most dangerous air in America. Our analysis shows the problems are especially acute in predominantly black and poor communities, like St. Gabriel, but whiter and more affluent sections — like neighboring Ascension Parish — are hardly immune.


We can’t give up on rural communities
White supremacist organizations are increasingly active  in rural areas of the country, playing on the economic anxiety and fears of rural voters. George Goehl, a community organizer working in rural areas of the country, calls on progressives to reach out and organize in these disinvested areas to combat the racist narratives of white supremacist groups in an op-ed in the New York Times:

In front-porch conversations, the most common thing we hear is, “Nobody ever asked me what I think.” That’s a problem. Because white nationalists are filling that vacuum. They’re organizing around people’s pain and using racism to help make sense of changing economic conditions and racial demographics. We are also up against the outsized influence of Fox News and right-wing talk radio, as well as the white nationalists online.


Changes to SNAP could cost kids their lunch
Millions of public-school students could lose access to free school lunch – and school districts could lose out on millions of dollars in federal funding – under changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) proposed by President Donald Trump’s administration. Alexandra Tilsley of The Urban Institute explains how Trump’s bid to take away states’ flexibility in administering SNAP will affect students: 

Urban Institute researchers have run the numbers, and they show the consequences could be further reaching than initially estimated because of effects on schools that use the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) to provide free lunch to all students. CEP, which has been linked to health (PDF), behavioral, and academic gains, relies on the number of students certified as free-lunch eligible through participation in SNAP or programs like it.

Today is the last day to submit a comment opposing this change because of the harm it will do to students and schools.


Working tax credits lift millions out of poverty
The federal Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit lifted 10.6 million Americans above the poverty line in 2018, despite the changes made in 2017 that reduced benefits for many families who qualify. As Samantha Washington explains for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities changes in the 2017 tax law provided a massive giveaway to the very rich, but did little to help low-income families

These figures are for 2018 and therefore are the first to account for the 2017 tax law, which took effect in 2018. But that law affected poverty only “marginally,” according to the Congressional Research Service. While it doubled the Child Tax Credit’s maximum value from $1,000 to $2,000 per child, it denied more than 26 million children in low- and moderate-income working families the full $1,000 credit increase, with families that include 11 million children receiving only a token increase of $75 or less. More troubling for many families is the law’s provision ending the Child Tax Credit for about 1 million children lacking a Social Security number. This group overwhelmingly consists of so-called “Dreamers” — young people with undocumented status who were brought to the United States by their immigrant parents.


Number of the Day
5.5 million – The number of children lifted out of poverty by the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)