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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Communities close to big box warehouses face health fallouts

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Thursday, May 2, 2024   

A recent study by the Environmental Defense Fund showed communities near mega warehouses are exposed to more polluted air.

More than 2 million Illinois residents primarily in low income and communities of color live within half a mile of one of the facilities. Lawmakers are reviewing The Warehouse Pollution Insights Act, which, if passed, would mandate owners to submit emissions data to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and expand its truck and air quality monitoring capacity.

Sam Becker, global clean air project manager for the Environmental Defense Fund, said truck fumes are contributing to more health complications for nearby residents.

"Communities near these leased mega warehouses face higher rates of harmful air pollution associated with diseases like asthma, COPD, and stroke," Becker reported. "These are diseases that disproportionately impact children and older people."

A combination of city planning and zoning decisions, the communities' lack of political and economic capital due to systemic disenfranchisement, and a history of redlining -- credit denial by a bank or mortgage company based on faulty determinations of a neighborhood's low property values -- are also contributing reasons. Company owners said they place their facilities where land is most affordable and makes the most business sense for them.

The Advanced Clean Trucks Rule introduced last month would require truck manufacturers to sell more zero-emission trucks and school buses. The Environmental Defense Fund has called for emissions figures from the trucks to be made public. Becker argued logistics companies with truck fleets should take the lead on making the improvements.

"This means transitioning their fleets from polluting diesel vehicles to clean electric vehicles, paying workers a fair wage and giving them health care," Becker outlined. "It also means providing transparency around where the polluting facilities, including warehouses, are located."

Although Illinois does publish pollution data, specific warehouse emission figures are not public information. The Environmental Defense Fund wants more monitors to keep track of warehouse growth and the amount of pollution community members are being exposed to. The study found of the 2 million people who live within a half mile of a warehouse, 127,000 are under age five and 251,000 are over age 64. The report also found at least 525,000 freight truck trips per day service a total of 2,400 leased mega-warehouses across Illinois.

Disclosure: The Environmental Defense Fund contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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