The question who gets what, why, and how much, boils down to class and race. The environmental burdens that are paralleled with the United States’ addiction to coal powered energy falls onto communities of color in an undeniable trend. An example of this disproportionate environmental racism to communities of color is the Bridgeport Harbor Generating Station in Connecticut. The high emissions coal power plant is conveniently located in Connecticut’s second poorest city, inserted right between the cities poorest parts. These two parts are Bridgeport’s Downtown and South End, whose populations consist of more than 87% people of color and averaging an income of $11,400. The proximity of these residential sectors to the generating station has caused adverse health in the communities.
The United States is a powerhouse when it comes to coal generated power. About 65% of the power we generate comes from fossil fuels. The Gibson Generating Station located in Indiana is just one of the many coal based power generating sites that contribute to these statistics. Built as a two unit coal fired power plant in 1972, it continued to grow into the 90’s when it finally became a five unit site.
On March 11, 2011 a magnitude 9 earthquake right off the coast of japan was the biggest the Island has ever seen. The earthquake caused the fission reactors of the nuclear power plant to shut down which wouldn’t have been a problem if the following tsunami didn’t shut off the backup generators the power plant had. This lead to 3 nuclear meltdowns resulting in the biggest nuclear disaster sense Chernobyl. One of the main reasons being the plants failure to meet basic safety requirements
About 1/3 of India’s population lives without electricity. In 2005-06, the Indian Ministry of Power proposed developing coal-powered Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPP) to generate large amounts of low cost electricity. The first UMPP to be commissioned was the Mundra UMPP on the Gulf of Kutch in Mundra in the state of Gujarat. The Mundra UMPP was built on the coast for two reasons: to utilize seawater for cooling, and for better access to cheap coal from Indonesia. Since the beginning of its construction in 2007, the Mundra UMPP has damaged the Kutch coast.
Energy Answers International, a private energy company based in Albany, New York, is currently building the nation’s largest waste-to-energy incinerator in Curtis Bay, Maryland. These types of power plants emit numerous different pollutants, including conventional greenhouse gases, particulate matter and heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury. Not only does Curtis Bay already have some of the highest levels of pollution in the nation, but the site for the incinerator is less than one mile away from the Benjamin Franklin High School and the Curtis Bay Elementary School.
Three Gorges Dam, one of the most impressive energy-related projects undertaken by the Chinese government in the last decades, has caused a great amount of controversy because of its environmental and socio-cultural impacts. Some of the issues caused by this massive hydropower plant include land degradation, an increased risk of flooding, and the resettlement of 1.27 million people.