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At the environmental website Grist, which just turned 15 years old, Brentin Mock writes Chemical plants endanger 134 million Americans. Who gets the worst of it?

Remember the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, last August, that claimed the lives of 15 people and injured another 160? We tend to think of such accidents as isolated incidents that won’t happen near us. But there are over 134 million Americans who can’t afford to think that way, according to a new report from the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform that maps out where the facilities handling the most dangerous chemicals are, and who lives near them.

That 134 million is the number of people who live in close proximity to roughly 3,400 facilities that manage dangerous chemicals like those found in the Texas blast, according to the report, called “Who’s in Danger?” A subset of those who live within a stone’s throw of those facilities – “fenceline communities”—are composed of people with the least protections when disasters happen. From the report:

   • The percentage of blacks in the fenceline zones is 75 percent greater than for the U.S. as a whole, and the percentage of Latinos is 60 percent greater;

   • The poverty rate in the fenceline zones is 50 percent higher than for the U.S. as a whole. [...]

you might expect environmental justice advocates to want to close these dangerous facilities. But for the most part, they’re not. The message of “Who’s in Danger?” is not Shut ‘em down, it’s Could you just use some chemicals that won’t kill us?

By and large, it  wouldn’t even cost the industries much. The 2006 report, “Preventing Toxic Terrorism: How Some Chemical Facilities Are Removing Danger to American Communities,” details how, when some companies converted their chemical supplies to safer alternatives, it cost them relatively little—at most $1 million in an industry that reports billions in profits annually.

But since Congress and state governments don’t require companies to even explore safer alternatives, much less use them, the risks persist.  […]


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2010Nearly 40 Million Now on Food Stamps:

The actual paper stamps were phased out more than a decade ago and replaced with a debit-card system, and the name of the 46-year-old program was changed 18 months ago to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). But most people still call them food stamps. And as of February, the latest data available, a record 39.7 million Americans were using them to put meals on the table, 13% of the population. Just a year ago, 33.8 million people were using food stamps.

Though not without its problems, the program remains one of the government's greatest successes, a key remaining part of a shredded social safety net. Even with the soaring use of food stamps because of the recession, most recipients are not jobless but rather low-wage workers. Without that backstop, many more of them and their children would be going hungry in America. A peer-reviewed study in 2009 ("Estimating the Risk of Food Stamp Use and Impoverishment During Childhood") calculated that 49% of children will receive food-stamp benefits sometime before they are 20 years old. […]


Tweet of the Day:

One more time: Hitler is Hitler. Slavery is slavery. Nothing else is either. Don't be an idiot.
@gregpinelo


On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin's morning roundup collects the non-paywalled stories behind the shocking conclusion of a look back at RomneyCare: it helped get people access to health care, and they're healthier and living longer as a result. How many lives might be saved by expanding Medicaid? And returning to a theme, "Universal Mammogram Screening Shows We Don’t Understand Risk." The Gop Benghazi revival, though aimed at impeachment, draws little of the Beltway press dismissal the "I word" did when aimed at Bush. Did that Princeton kid really "check" his privilege? Post net-neutrality throttling is already happening. Wall Street's own private tax.


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