The history of environmental racism is a long one in the United States, far longer than the efforts to address the problem. But reporting on environmental justice continues to tick upwards, and an analysis in the latest Backgrounder points to promising progress, explaining why for journalists the year ahead may yield important stories, whether about future footholds or new missteps.
Mountain West (CO ID MT NV UT WY)
It was a seemingly mundane legal notice about a surface water discharge permit. But when Wyoming journalist Angus Thuermer Jr. took a closer look, he discovered that it would mean massive discharges of pollutants into local waters. Inside Story explains how Thuermer revealed the truth about the plans, prompting local protests and, ultimately, a withdrawal of the permit.
"A Nevada rancher suing to block construction of the largest lithium mine in the U.S. says the government’s environmental assessment of the project relies on a baseline set by a consultant for the mining company with a conflict of interest that trivializes potential harm to water resources and wildlife near the Oregon line."
"In an effort to help save the shrinking Great Salt Lake, environmentalists are attempting a novel idea: securing water rights for a terminal system."
"Utah’s iconic Great Salt Lake, long neglected by regulators, is collapsing due to a historic drought and climate change."
While climate change is certainly a global phenomenon, conflicts over addressing it often turn on local concerns. Case in point: Community bans on the use of the fossil fuel methane (aka natural gas), which has in turn prompted some states to ban the bans themselves. The latest TipSheet explains the bans and how they play into the climate change debate, plus story ideas and resources.
"Interior Secretary Deb Haaland signed the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes water rights compact on Friday, settling a decades-long battle over thousands of individual water rights in Montana and on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The deal also created a $1.9 billion trust to settle claims and refurbish the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project in Montana."
"The North Platte River in southern Wyoming has been so low in places lately that a toddler could easily wade across and thick mats of olive-green algae grow in the lazy current."
"Doctors test only a fraction of Denver children for levels of lead in their blood each year, even though federal law requires the tests for thousands of them."
"Gov. Jared Polis signed a new law Tuesday that’s meant to force Colorado businesses and consumers to reduce their use of single-use plastic and polystyrene products."