Reduced carbon dioxide emissions will do no one any good, regardless of whether they are people of color, polka-dotted or candy-striped. Carbon-constraint hurts the poor. Always.
A coalition of environmental justice and civil rights activists has filed a complaint alleging that cap-and-trade provisions in California’s pioneering program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions discriminate against people of color.
The groups, which represent minority communities, accused the California Air Resources Board of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it agreed to allow polluters in low-income areas to use carbon offsets to buy their way out of pollution reduction under the state’s global warming reduction plan.
“Cap and trade allows them to buy allowances from other facilities or offsets from out of state or even internationally, denying communities next to refineries and other polluting businesses the benefits that would occur through direct regulation,” said Brent Newell, a lawyer for the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, which filed the complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday.
“It’s discrimination because these communities living very close to cap-and-trade facilities are overwhelmingly populated by people of color,” he said, “and the African American population is disproportionately affected.”
Newell said the groups he represents support – and, in fact, fought against oil companies and global warming skeptics to protect – AB32, the landmark law passed in 2006 that requires California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.