Vol. 2, No. 4, March 2017
The Threat of a Scott Pruitt EPA

In yet another devastating blow to the environmentalist community, and the country as a whole, the highly contentious Scott Pruitt was confirmed as EPA secretary on Friday, February 17th. Pruitt’s confirmation has been a subject of debate due to the well known fact that he was a “serial suer” of the very same industry he is now in charge of.

Following his confirmation, it was revealed to the public that Pruitt had also exchanged countless emails with head fossil fuel industry executives. These emails included correspondence with Devon Energy, a major fossil fuel company based in Oklahoma City. The emails reiterate the concerns expressed by skeptics of Pruitt, that he is too closely affiliated with organizations and lobbyists calling for environmental deregulation, and the emails only reinforced the fact that Pruitt’s special interests have the potential to cause a huge obstacle for the EPA in the future.

It is still unclear what will come out of the situation surrounding Pruitt. Public discourse has been distracted from the threats that come along with Pruitt heading the EPA, as there have been many other controversial occurrences that have overcast the dangers associated with Pruitt’s confirmation.

Click here for more information.

Yale Study Yields Disappointing U.S. Climate Opinion Statistics

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication recently released a series of maps detailing United States public opinion on Climate Change. These interactive maps contain a plethora of public opinion estimates, from general beliefs to risk perceptions to policy support. The results, while varied from county to county, are troublesome. Nationwide, only 53 percent of Americans believe that climate change is caused by human activity, and only 24 percent of Americans hear about climate change at least once a week. These statistics serve as a rude awakening for city-dwellers and college students, whose surroundings serve as echo chambers for their beliefs regarding the climate. On a positive note, the vast majority (82%) of Americans support research into renewable energy. The opinion maps allow users to apply a variety of metrics, and narrow results down to the county level. For those interested in U.S. public opinion on climate change, look no further.

Explore: Yale Climate Opinion Maps

100-Mile-Long Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf
Larsen C Ice Shelf

Film Overview:
Destination East Boston

Destination East Boston, a documentary by Lucas La Battaglia, chronicles the unfortunate destruction, both past and present, of the communities affected by the expansion of Boston Logan Airport throughout the years. Having lived out in the suburbs all my life and only venturing to Boston Logan Airport a handful of times, I never would have guessed the countless sacrifices and sufferings the communities endured, and continue to endure because of the expansion of the airport. Watching this documentary, I felt both ashamed of the privilege, convenience, and luxury the airport provided me, but also astonished at the dichotomy the airport represented: a threat to the surrounding communities but a promise of exciting adventures and reunions.

In the 1960’s, the owners of Boston Logan Airport wanted to expand. During a time where much infrastructure was improving, this was quite ordinary. Located on the Boston Harbor and in the middle of East Boston, the expansion of the airport neglected the impacts of the adjacent neighborhoods, causing significant social unrest. In addition to the airport expansion, the expansion of the Blue Line cut the street in half one way, and the new highway cut the street in half the otherway. Comprised of first generation, Italian immigrants, many of whom were blue-collared workers, East Boston held hopes of a better future. However, residents began to feel the system was “rigged against the community,” especially when the airport replaced the 46-acre Wood Island Park with a runway, leaving the residents “dejected and demoralized.”

As if these atrocities were not enough, the airport exercised eminent domain in the expansion of Logan Airport. Families in Brighton, Somerville, Cambridge, and East Boston were forced out of their homes, receiving only one dollar as compensation, and were not provided with any relocation assistance.

Photograph of Wood Island Park

The stench of the airport carries to the surrounding communities on a daily basis, but it is especially strong on cloudy, rainy days. When planes fly over, clothes hung on the clothesline are covered with soot from plane exhaust. The air pollution increases asthma among children and noise pollution increases cardiovascular diseases. One resident went to the EPA to find how much air pollution the planes were emitting, but found no data.

One of the greatest ironies of the airport is illustrated in the “East Boston Times,” where Massport purchases their largest ad, highlights the parks in the neighborhood and how Logan Airport is “a great neighbor and friend,” ignoring the scars the airport is leaving on the community. Also, many immigrants residing in these communities work for the subcontract of Massport, limiting their ability to speak out.

The activists are urging the communities to make a demand on the elected officials to make a commitment to protect its citizens such as creating stricter policies to regulate air quality and to follow the example of politicians such as Mayor Kevin Write, who later became the secretary of transportation, when he backed the people by opposing the mindless expansion of Logan. The story of East Boston is still being written, and the fight for justice is far from over.

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What is NEJRC?

noun. [KNEE-jerk]

The Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative is a multidisciplinary research collaborative made up of scholars engaged in political ecology and environmental justice initiatives. Based at Northeastern University in Boston, the collaborative works on a wide range of local, regional, national, and international topics and issues. Professor Daniel Faber, a long-time researcher and advocate around environmental justice, serves as the Director.

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Copyright © 2017. Northeastern University: NEJRC, All Rights Reserved.

Contributors: Laura Bernstein, Ben Vanderlan, Melissa Sonntag, Sophie Gong
Edited by Laura Bernstein CSSH'19
Designed & Edited by Anna Driscoll CAMD'18

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