Federal oil and gas leasing reforms need to include environmental justice

A new day is about to begin at the Interior Ministry after a four-year agenda in favor of polluters. In March, communities across the country were delighted with the historic approval that Deb Haaland would lead the country’s largest and most powerful land management agency. Now she is taking this opportunity to pursue a real reform of the broken oil and gas leasing system, which has long prioritized the CEO of fossil fuels. The possibilities for a cleaner and fairer future are in front of us.

This is not easy, but it is possible. Already, the Biden administration is paying attention to its failed federal oil and gas leasing program by suspending all new leasing on public land. While this suspension is in effect, I urge Secretary Harland and the Home Office to carry out a review of environmental justice in the leasing program to address racial discrimination in the oil and gas business.

This review is an important first step in recognizing system fraud, listening to those affected, and hearing their thoughts on reform. As Managing Director of Deep South Environmental Justice Center (DSCEJ), I work with a community along the lower Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, which is harmed by environmental racism and from more than 100 polluted facilities that release deadly cocktails daily. Faced with serious health threats. For nearly 30 years in this work, I have had the oil and gas industry dominate the Gulf region at the expense of the black community, and a large amount of poisoning from oil refining and manufacturing. I have witnessed swallowing our neighborhood with heavy pollution.

This pollution flows through our backyards, school grounds and recreation centers, threatening access to clean air and water and endangering our health. However, very often, the communities most hit by these dangers are ignored and excluded from the conversation. This lease suspension is an opportunity to give Secretary of State Erling Haaland the opportunity to hear from us and focus justice and impartiality on the reform of our oil and gas programs.

There are many environmental injustices facing our community. In 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency report Discovered that the oil sector was liberated Over £ 11m Of pollution In 25 parishes in LouisianaMany of these facilities operate near black residents. This contamination contains chemicals that are widely known to cause cancer and damage heart and lung function, making breathing difficult and often leading to premature death. And now the study Show it Air pollution exacerbates the effects of the COVID-19 virusThe threat posed by oil and gas facilities to our community continues to grow.

Unfortunately, air pollution is not the only issue. In coastal areas, redlining, oil spills and offshore drilling contribute to racial discrimination. After BP’s oil drilling disaster, a large amount of oil waste was disposed of in a landfill next to the black community. Endangering our water supplyAlso, as ocean drilling continues, the coastline deteriorates, making it impossible to protect nature from extreme weather in many areas. To make matters worse, greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry are a major cause of climate crisis and are imbalanced in our community where floods, heat waves and other climate-induced disasters are commonplace. Is affecting.

The Gulf community is advocating equitable energy solutions, creating new high-income jobs, keeping air and water clean, and keeping the climate safe, but with federal support. The threat to the existence of climate change and the annoying health inequalities of the black community are one of the enormous consequences of reckless oil and gas development.

President Biden has made it clear that reforming the leasing system is the administration’s top priority. The suspension of leases now gives the opportunity to complete a comprehensive review, so the administration and Secretary of State Erling Haaland can work together to prioritize an environmentally and economically just transition from fossil fuel development. It is essential. We expect it.

This is an opinion and analysis article. Federal oil and gas leasing reforms need to include environmental justice

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