Communities of Color Must Lead the People’s Climate March

A Changing Climate Means A Changing Society. The Island Press Urban Resilience Project, Supported By The Kresge Foundation And The JPB Foundation, Is Committed To A Greener, Fairer Future.​ This Post Was Originally Published April 28, 2017 in Common Dreams.

On April 29th, thousands will participate in the People’s Climate March—in Washington, D.C. and all over the country--to stand up for our communities and our climate. I’ll be marching with my daughter and mother alongside other families in Wilmington, CA. Why? Because climate change starts in our neighborhoods.

Here in the predominantly low-income Latino community of Wilmington, CA, we have five major oil refineries within a nine-mile radius. We are not alone: across the country, minority and low-income neighborhoods host the lion’s share of polluting facilities, and families like mine are impacted first and worst.

I live just 500 yards from the Tesoro refinery and must keep the doors closed to not breathe in the toxic fumes that are slowly killing us. Every neighbor on my street has a family member who has struggled with or died from cancer. I worry about my mother who has suffered with a chronic cough for years that isn’t getting better, and the many children who attend school within a mile of the refinery. From my window at night, I see the sky lit bright orange from the flares at the refinery.

It will only get worse if we don’t take action now. Tesoro plans to merge their refinery in Wilmington with BP Carson, creating the largest refinery on the West Coast. The $460 million expansion across 950 acres would build 3.4 million barrels of storage tanks, almost doubling capacity. The expanded refinery will process more than 380,000 barrels of high benzene Bakken crude oil per day.

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Urban Resilience