I Live in One of America’s Most Polluted Zip Codes
By Theresa Landrum, Evergreen Advisory Board member
I’ve lived my entire life in one of America’s most polluted ZIP codes: 48217, on the southwest side of Detroit. It’s home to more than 8,000 people — mostly Black — and the only oil refinery in Michigan. My neighbors and I have been breathing in benzene, sulfur chloride, and hydrogen sulfide for years, and the health effects are clear. I’ve seen neighbors in their 20s die of cancer. I lost my mother and my father to cancer. I am a survivor.
People of color across the country are being treated like we’re disposable, while big polluters line their pockets with bailout dollars from Washington D.C. And now, communities that have been exposed to decades of air pollution are more likely to suffer from COVID-19.
That’s why I supported Jay Inslee’s presidential campaign last year and why I’ve since joined the advisory board of Evergreen Action. We have the most comprehensive plan for moving America to a clean energy economy — one that centers environmental justice and was built by listening to frontline communities. That was a central tenet of the Inslee campaign, and now it’s a central tenet of Evergreen Action.
Dirty energy companies have been wooing D.C. politicians for decades, and I’m under no illusions that getting Congress and the president to embrace clean energy policies will be easy.
But there are more people suffering from pollution and the climate crisis than there are fossil fuel executives and lobbyists. Millions more. And the people in 48217 are no different from the people in your community.
Let’s make our elected leaders see the people who pay the price for their corrupt bargains.
Evergreen Advisory Board Member