Corrente

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Turning poor neighborhoods into toxic waste dumps

"Petcoke." Reminds me of a famous dot com era bust, but no. FT:

The powdery substance – familiar to locals as the black dust coating their houses, cars and, many say, lungs – is petroleum coke, or “petcoke”, a byproduct of the Canadian tar sands boom. It is stored at two terminals owned by KCBX on the banks of the Calumet River. A dust storm last autumn spurred the community to action.

Community activism has brought the substance to the attention of local, state and federal officials, who have initiated a flurry of legislative action, litigation and regulatory scrutiny. The recent furore has pit regulators and a poor community against Charles and David Koch, the billionaires who own KCBX.

Petcoke is piling up from Texas to Toledo as the increase in oil production from Canada’s tar sands drives expansion at refineries throughout the country. Last year, Detroit fought for the removal of its own three-storey-high, blocks-long piles of petcoke at another terminal owned by Koch, the product of a nearby Marathon plant that has ramped up processing of heavy Canadian crude.

The tar sands boom, along with the shale revolution, has buoyed hopes of North American energy independence and bolstered support for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which, if approved, will carry oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. But the high carbon oil has come under fire from environmentalists because of its quantities of heavy metals and toxic chemicals.

Of course the issue really isn't "bad billionaires," as in the Koch Brothers, bête noire of "progressive billionaires" everywhere.

The real issue is the petroleum-based economy that creates these by-products (if you regard killing off poor people as a by product, instead of the whole point).

#12 of the 12-Point Platform addresses this issue (granted, in the United States and not Canada). A carbon-negative economy should end up producing giant dusty piles of, well, carbon.a

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