There are days when I rejoice at being part of the human race. Saturday, April 29, was one of those days, when I marched with 200,000 people in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the unity of peoples and races in the climate fight.
At the Peoples Climate March, led by frontline communities, we also denounced the worst 100 days for the environment and democracy in the country’s recent history. Donald Trump has become public enemy number one of clean air and water, the health of our families, and the future of the planet’s atmosphere. In D.C. and many other cities around the world we condemned the abuses against Mother Earth and its most vulnerable inhabitants.
In his first 100 days, Trump has made clear that Latinos, African-Americans, and the rest of the communities that are in the most danger because of toxic pollution and the climate crisis don’t count in his destructive anti-environmental and anti-public health agenda. The night before the march, his EPA eliminated the climate science page from its website, sending yet another message that the international climate consensus has no place in his denialist administration.
The EPA, in fact, has become his preferred target. Trump proposes a 25 percent cut to the agency’s budget, the elimination of 3,000 jobs and the end of, among many others, the environmental justice program. That is the program established to confront the toxic bombardment front-line communities are subject to on a daily basis across the US.
I can’t describe it in any other terms than a move to leave those communities behind. I can’t imagine what the justification would be, other than racism.
Let’s keep in mind the population group most vulnerable to fossil fuel pollution is “economically disadvantaged immigrant neighborhoods of non-English speaking Latinos,” according to a Washington State University study. “Hazardous air pollutants can cause cancer or other serious reproductive and birth defects. Most originate from automobiles and industrial sources like factories, refineries and power plants,” it adds.
“To cut the Environmental Justice program at EPA is just racist,” said John Coequyt, the Sierra Club’s Director of Federal and International Climate Campaigns. “I can’t describe it in any other terms than a move to leave those communities behind. I can’t imagine what the justification would be, other than racism.”
We have seen the Trump administration moving to eliminate air and water protections our health depends on by saying it saves jobs. He repeated this false choice the day he eliminated the rule that prohibited dumping coal-mining waste in the country’s rivers and lakes, ignoring the fact that the energy sector that generates the most employment is clean, renewable energy like wind and solar.
Trump and his pro-coal obsession look like Don Quixote charging at the windmills. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the decline of coal is “irreversible” and solar energy has become the cheapest source of electricity in the whole world. Also, investments in renewables “are beating fossil fuels two to one,” adding that the growth of clean energy in the US is “unstoppable.”
As unstoppable as the hundreds of thousands who participated in the Peoples Climate March in DC, across the country and the world.
Javier Sierra is a Sierra Club columnist. Follow him on Twitter @javier_SC.