STAR Program Proves Viability of Air Pollution Reduction Programs in Fighting Climate Change and Environmental Racism
Posted Mar 11 2009 3:13pm
Because the topic of environmental racism has an even greater emotional and
political charge than global warming, I have not touched on it until now.
However, in many cases, it is far easier to prove than global warming and, of
course, the existence of environmental racism is a stain on humanity.
This scourge refers to the fact that many of the byproducts of industrialization
are ugly, malodorous or otherwise undesirable. In the case of petroleum
refining, the byproducts are carcinogenic and malodorous. Hence, many of the
refineries in the United States are deliberately located in low-income
neighborhoods which have disproportionately high populations of ethnic
minorities such as African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans.
The good news is that fighting the problem can bring ancillary benefits since
scrubbing smoke stacks is the best and cleanest practice. Fortunately, the city
of Louisville, KY has proved that such an approach can win with its STAR
Program. An acronym for Strategic Toxic Air Reduction, the STAR Program
began in 2005 and has been an unqualified success, cleaning the air of
Louisville quite significantly of, for example, the human carcinogen
1,3-butadiene, which has fallen more than 75%.
I commend Louisville and all of the members of the coalition which was formed to
push the STAR Program into fruition. Naturally, the resulting drop in
pollution-caused premature deaths downwind of the chemical plants and dry
cleaners which have cleaned up their act are a very real and most welcome bonus.
This important success proves that no dream for a cleaner, greener future is
beyond our reach.