Amidst ongoing discussions of imminent attempts to overturn DACA, tax reform and a repeal of the birth control mandate from Washington, another threat looms over our South Atlantic service area that needs to be front and center for the allies and members of the communities we serve.
Construction of a 600-mile long Atlantic Coast pipeline (ACP) is scheduled to begin in 2018, with the route running through North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia — three of the four states where Planned Parenthood South Atlantic provides lifesaving care to our patients.
The fenceline communities that border the ACP’s route are 75 percent more likely to be occupied by people of color. These folks are also exposed to 38 percent more polluted air than white people, according to “Fumes Across the Fence-Line”, a new report released this month from the NAACP’s Clean Air Task Force. The people of color in these communities are already more susceptible to cancer, respiratory infections and birth defects because of historic systemic injustice. At Planned Parenthood one of our core values is to respect and honor the value of all people. Folks in fenceline communities are the same people who walk through our health center doors each day, and we’re calling for awareness and advocacy to the ACP’s imminent health hazards on these communities.
We know that communities of color and people with low incomes already occupy more environmentally racist spaces, which negatively impact their health and lead to disproportionate rates of illness such as heart disease and asthma. The construction of the ACP will open the door to life threatening toxins in these fenceline community’s water supply, air quality and land contamination that will not only compound the health outcomes of individual community members, but also the well being and ecosystem of the community at-large.
In addition to meeting the health care needs of the communities we serve, every day Planned Parenthood South Atlantic works to create the world we want to live for all people — including advocating for livable environments that are free from all kinds of health hazards.
Reproductive justice means not only the ability to decide when and if to become a parent, but also to be secure in knowing that when someone does decide to have children they can parent them safely and healthy.
We must stand with fenceline communities as allies and work together to enact policies that ensure just health, living and environmental conditions, and that provide equitable access to resources that advance the future success of women, men and young people, no matter what.
Read the NAACP’s full report here.
Visit your state’s Department of Environmental Quality website to learn more information about what your state government is doing for the ACP, find public hearing dates or submit a public comment.
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality