Environmental Racism: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver | Transcript

John Oliver discusses environmental racism, how both government and industry are failing people of color, and pandas.
Environmental Racism: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Season 9 Episode 9
Aired on May 1, 2022

Main segment: Environmental racism
Other segments: Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Alex Villanueva

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John: Welcome, welcome, welcome to “Last Week Tonight!” I’m John Oliver. Thank you so much for joining us. It’s been another busy week. The Russian invasion of Ukraine entered its third month, continues to musk everything up, and Madison Cawthorn, congress’ freshest-faced idiot, brought a loaded handgun to an airport again. But we’re going to focus on this year’s elections. A lot of governors and local officials are on the ballot this year, and some have been trying to make a splash with big stunts, like Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida and a man who has what I can only describe as “green book” vibes. We’ve talked before about his “don’t say gay” bill, and Disney’s belated condemnation of it. Well, last week, DeSantis took a bold step to retaliate.

As promised, Florida republican governor Ron DeSantis signing a law ending Disney’s self-government and tax breaks. The self-government at Disney is called the reedy creek improvement district. It provides fire, ems, electricity, and other functions like any other government would.

John: Yeah, it’s true. In the part of central Florida where Disney World is, the company technically functions as a self-contained government, providing essential services — except, crucially, a morgue. Why? Because no one — look at me — no one has ever died at Disney. And no one will ever die at Disney. Do you hear me? There is no fucking morgue at Disney. Nod if you understand me. Very good. But there are plenty of signs DeSantis didn’t really think this through, with experts pointing out the law may actually violate the contract clause of the Florida constitution, and also, that Florida state law requires the county assumes a district’s debt when it’s dissolved. Which could mean that Orange and Osceola counties, where the district is, inherit upward of a billion dollars in bond debt. It’s no wonder there are real concerns about all the potential disruption. Thankfully DeSantis had some reassuring words:

We’re gonna take care of all that. Don’t worry. This is all — we have everything thought out. Don’t let anyone tell you that somehow Disney is gonna get a tax cut out of this. They’re going to pay more taxes as a result of this.

John: Okay, there’s just nothing more off-putting than someone starting a sentence with “don’t worry.” He sounds like a frat boy trying to reason with the cops after a noise complaint. “Don’t worry, man, we’re gonna take care of all that. We’ve got everything all thought out. You guys want a beer? You want to hang out?” And followup statements from DeSantis’s office continued to be vague on details, with one spokeswoman admitting, the governor’s office does not have a written plan on how the dissolution will proceed. Which of course it doesn’t. And look, do I think it’s bad if Disney pays more taxes? No! I don’t. That would be a good thing. I don’t love that it might happen not through meaningful tax reform, but on the whim of one right-wing dipshit who’s scared of gay people and doesn’t understand the first amendment, but hey, ends, means, what are you gonna do? But it’s not just DeSantis engaging in harmful stunts. In Texas, Greg Abbott’s been doing the same. You may remember a few weeks ago, he announced he’d be sending charter buses of migrants to Washington DC. But he also recently decided to subject every commercial truck crossing the border to strict inspections, causing absolute chaos.

These trucks are already inspected by U.S. Customs and the U.S. Department of Transportation but now per governor Abbott, DPS is also conducting safety inspections with the stated goal of stopping cases of human smuggling.

Normally it takes these trucks that you see behind me about 30, 40 minutes to cross but earlier today we heard of one truck driver that sat in line for 12 hours trying to bring product into the United States.

John: Wow. I’d say there is no greater hell than being pointlessly stuck in traffic for twelve hours because of Greg Abbott except there is, and it’s being stuck in traffic for twelve hours with Greg Abbott. That’s a road trip movie no one wants to see. Now, Abbott called the scheme off after just eight days, which is a good thing, given that — by some estimates — Texas lost $4 billion from the disruptions, while finding no migrants, and zero drugs, weapons or any other type of contraband. Apparently, all Abbott’s inspections did find were things like oil leaks and flat tires. Meaning he caused a hellish traffic jam only to do the work of the world’s most expensive jiffy lube. And then there was L.A. County sheriff Alex Villanueva. Seen here, looking like a potato cowboy. His re-election bid this year has been overshadowed by claims in the l.a. Times that he directed a coverup of an incident where one of his deputies knelt on a detainee’s head for three minutes. It’s a damning story about abuse of power and lack of transparency, and Villaneuva took swift action against those responsible… For everyone finding out about it.

The sheriff says there’s now a criminal investigation into who released the video to the L.A. Times.

So here, the three individuals that we want to know a lot about.

He pointed out his political opponent in the race for sheriff, the inspector general, and an L.A. Times reporter.

The matter is under investigation. This is stolen property that was removed illegally from people who had some intent, criminal intent, and it’ll be subject to investigation.

John: Okay, when you’re accused of being complicit in a terrible act, being more concerned about who said it than the accusation doesn’t exactly convey innocence. If someone said, John Oliver likes to be called “Big Daddy Zazu with the long, long beak” around the office. And my response was “who said that? Was it joseph? I’m going to investigate joseph,” that would be more than a little suspicious. Besides, that would never happen because Big Daddy Zazu runs a tight ship! Now, legally, I have to tell you Villanueva denies any wrongdoing and says he only learned of the kneeling incident eight months after it occurred and immediately launched an investigation. Although a former top official in his department has filed a claim, saying she watched the video with him and two others just five days after the incident happened. And I will say this. Sweeping things under the carpet does seem to be Villanueva’s style. Because despite campaigning four years ago as a reformer, in an infamously corrupt department, his record since then hasn’t been great. A 2019 IG Report found that, over just a two-month period, officials working under him canceled 45 administrative investigations into his employees, some of which involved domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual misconduct with an inmate. And he’s not just breaking promises to reform. It seems his reelection bid is going to involve going full culture-war.

I think 2022 is going to be a special year. I think it’s going to be a referendum on a national disease that’s going to finally see a cure coming along. Wokeism is on the ropes. Let’s put it out of its misery.

John: That’s fun! You probably thought that the national disease he was referring to there was the literal one that’s killed almost a million Americans were two years. Or the figurative one that was BTS fever. By the way: Yoongi, marry me. I have the documents. But instead, he meant the bullshit disease that means you’re not allowed to make fun of your nephew for being a sociology major. Y’know, the “real” tragedy. But perhaps Villanueva’s piece de resistance is a new campaign ad which honestly might be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen. I’m going to show you all thirty seconds of it, because I can’t think of any part of it you don’t need to see.

I fear for my home’s future. The California dream has turned into a nightmare. The politicians have left us down. Let’s stand up to the corruption. Let’s fight for ourselves. Let’s bring the dream back. I am Alex Villanueva and I approve this message.

John: Okay, obviously, that’s all idiotic, from the 1990s rollerblader, to the song choice for your California dream ad being Ave Maria and not, I don’t know, California dreamin’ to the fact that everyone there is having an absolute ball, including the people experiencing a break-in. I’ve honestly never seen anyone this happy while getting robbed, and I saw Glenn Close at the Oscars eight times. Perhaps the weirdest decision comes at the end, where an inexplicably wet Villanueva works a look that can best be described as “high school coach minutes before being busted for spying on the girls’ locker room,” and announces, “let’s stand up to the corruption, let’s fight for ourselves,” which given that he’s the one who’s been in charge the last four years, seems like a pretty good slogan for anyone running against him. But depressingly, it seems he’s going to get re-elected. Bullying a reporter might actually help him, just like DeSantis and Abbott’s harmful stunts are likely to help them. Because the name of the game in politics these days seems to be less “can you help the most people?” And more “how much can you hurt the people your supporters hate the most?” Even if all voters get is a massive logistical headache, a twelve hour traffic jam, and the must unwatchable depiction of southern California since La La Land. And now this.

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Announcer: Shaquille O’Neal can’t stop explaining how to save money on gas.

The amount of gas I would have to spend. Cost $80 to fill it up. Then you said.

When it gets to have come you put $20. Bring it back to full. You complain about when it gets easier you spend 80. Right? When he gets to have you put 20 and then when he gets back to have you put 20.

Stop and put 20.

I already paid the ADP when I get to have. When I get to have. Going to have 20. If you let it get to have by Wednesday.

It won’t get to have. By Wednesday it’s going to be 40 and Friday will be 40.

Not 40, 20. I met have come I don’t want to keep driving. Shut it out.

Half of 80 is 40.

That’s what I’m saying. Get to have, spent 20 and fill it back up. That’s my point. Get to have been putting 20 and it will bring into full. If I am at half and bring it to 20 and go down and I met half and put 20.

So then I will never drive my car again ever.

Your complaining about the $80.

We have heard it so many times.

How much gas do you think you can get for $20?

Don’t even start. Don’t even start about half full.

If I had 20, just going to give me some cushion.

Ain’t no cushion.

Be back tomorrow. Case close. Shut the hill up. Case close to. Trust me.

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John: Moving on. Our main story tonight concerns pollution. It’s the thing psas have been warning us about for more than half a century.

Before you take another breath, think what air pollution may be doing to your lungs. Hold it now! Think, what are you going to do about it? Well, if there are groups in your town fighting to make the air clean, join them. Or write to clean air Washington D.C. uh, by the way, holding your breath is not the answer. [Laughter]

John: Flawless. Not a single flaw. The only thing I’d say is, you could have had more fun with what’s written on the balls. That’s it. You’re already the flirtiest weirdo 1960s psas had to offer! Swing big! You could have gone with, “bet you didn’t know these were in my mouth”! Or “these are Kermit’s eyes” or “Robert Kennedy will be shot on June 5, 1968”! The world was your oyster! We all suffer from exposure to pollution in this country, but some significantly more than others, thanks to what’s called environmental racism. Studies have found that black Americans are exposed to 38% more polluted air, and are 75% more likely to live in communities that border a plant or a factory. And crucially, the disparity in exposure persists even when controlling for income. One study found that on average, black Americans making $200,000 were exposed to more air pollution than white Americans making $25,000. Proving yet again that racism is one of the few things in this country more powerful than money. In fact, I believe America’s current top 5 power rankings go: racism, beef, viral videos of soldiers reuniting with their dogs, dj Khaled’s P.R. team, and then money. And while the decisions that lead to disparate outcomes can be subtle, they can also be incredibly flagrant, in 2008, there was a massive spill of coal ash here in Tennessee, with tons of toxic waste dumped into a largely white community. The good news is, they removed four million tons of it. The bad news, it was then dumped 300 miles away, in this largely black community called Uniontown, where residents were pretty clear about what had just happened.

Taking that from a white area. The white people didn’t want it, let’s just keep it 100. If the white folks ain’t want it why do you think it’s good enough for the blacks?

John: Yeah, she’s right. It seems when white people don’t want something anymore, they either dump it on minority communities or sew a hummingbird on it and list it on Esty as “handmade vintage.” Let’s keep it 100 for a second. That is garbage. The fact is, black neighborhoods in particular can get targeted with incredible precision, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Pollution is one of the driving factors behind conditions like heart disease, asthma, and even death, with black Americans nearly three times as likely to die from exposure to pollution. And vast disparities can exist even within the same city, as this environmental expert breaks down.

Right now, the zip code is the most important predictor of health and well being. You tell me your zip code, I can tell you how healthy you are. All zip codes are not created equal.

Really?

Yes. You can find zip codes that are adjacent to each other and have a life expectancy disparity of 10, 15 years depending on what’s in that neighborhood and what’s not in that neighborhood.

John: Wow, that’s grim. “You can live 15 fewer years depending on your zip code” is the worst zip code news since the time they added those four bullshit digits at the end. I don’t know what those are, and I’m never gonna learn them. I know my five digit zip code, my social security number, my birthday, one of my children’s birthdays, and that is the end of my numbers. I’m not learning any more. So given just how awful its effects are, tonight, let’s look at environmental racism. How it got this bad, how government and industry continue to fail people of color, and what we can do about it. And the first major factor to consider here is history. As we’ve discussed before on this comedy show, it was explicit federal policy for decades to segregate housing based on race through a process known as redlining. Basically, black people could not get government-backed home loans where white people lived. And the areas where they could live were often also zoned for industrial uses. Here’s how it worked in Dallas.

So, you can take a redlining map from the ’30s and the maps from the ’40s and overlay that on a current industrial map of Dallas. And they’ll show you black and brown folks are forced to live side by side by heavy industry in a way that nobody else in Dallas is forced to live.

John: That’s basically the same parts of town! Which seems pretty intentional! I know some things are just weird coincidences, like how John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, or how George Washington had wooden teeth and Patrick Henry died of anal splinters. Just a random, true fact they don’t teach you about in history class. But this, this is no coincidence! And that might at least partly explain why the life expectancy here in Jopee, a predominantly black area with a lot of industrial zoning, is just 71, while in the predominantly white highland park, it’s 84. And it definitely helps explain why certain neighborhoods have to put up with shit like “shingle mountain.” That’s the work of a company named blue star recycling, which claimed it had a plan to recycle roofing shingles into asphalt. So it started dumping a literal mountain of them into a lot, right next to homes in a largely black and Latino neighborhood.

Look at it, shingle mountain.

Wow.

That’s 100,000 tons of shingles.

100,000 Tons of shingles?

Exactly.

Wow. It kind of smells like, like just rubber, like raw rubber.

It does, it smells like burnt pavement.

[Sneezes] excuse me.

Bless you.

[Sneezes]

Bless you. I better get you out and back. Yeah, this is what we’re going through.

You can feel it going up your nose.

[Laughs] yeah, you can feel it.

[Sneezes]

John: Okay, look, sneezing in response to 100,000 tons of fiberglass waste is fine a couple of times, but there’s a point where you’re just interrupting people, and it’s rude. Still, you can’t deny it’s impressive that it took all of five seconds for that mountain to turn Soledad O’Brien into a woman at the beginning of an allergy commercial, when she’s still in black and white. And blue star’s owner, Chris Ganter, didn’t seem that concerned about the mess he made. Because watch what happened when O’Brien stopped sneezing long enough to call him.

So, let me ask you a question. When you think of the people who live there on shingle mountain, like, what would you say to them? Because, you know, it’s pretty gross.

Oh, the whole neighborhood around there’s gross. I mean, everything around there is an industrial area. I didn’t really go down there very often because I didn’t like being down in that part of, part of town.

But do you think the people there, you know, do you feel sorry for them? Do you feel like, hey, listen, that’s where they live, they get what they get?

Oh, I mean, everybody knew what the zoning of the area was when they, when they bought. I mean, it’s kind of like, I don’t know, buying right next to the nuclear place and then complaining later about it. It’s an industrial area and every city has to have an industrial area. Just the way it is.

John: You know, part of me almost appreciates that level of unapologetic shittiness. No efforts to spin or dodge it, just flat-out saying, “yeah, it’s an icky part of town full of gross poors who deserve to live in filth. You get all of that for your news report? I can say it again slower if it helps.” What Ganter clearly doesn’t understand there is that a lot of people didn’t choose to live in an industrial area. Racist zoning policies chose for them. And while his company eventually went belly-up and local activists got the city to move the shingles, it only moved them just across the highway to a massive landfill allowed by the neighborhood’s zoning. But history and zoning are only part of the story here. Because it’s also about who has the power to push back. And polluters often assume that black communities, in particular, won’t be able to stop them. Take the Byhalia pipeline, a joint venture between these two companies, who planned for their oil pipeline to take a very deliberate path through Memphis.

The path Byhalia proposed winds down through South Memphis, cutting through several historically black communities. There is a more direct option, but that would cut through predominantly white, wealthier neighborhoods in the north.

John: Yeah, that does seem odd. Normally the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, not “through any black people who happen to be standing nearby.” Although I will say the least surprising thing there is that the white wealthy suburb is called Germantown. That’s the name you give your community when “Aryanville” feels a little too obvious. The companies behind the pipeline insist they had good reasons according to a local activist — a pipeline rep once accidentally said the quiet part loud.

There was a community meeting that Byhalia pipeline held, and they were asked by one of the members of the community “why did you all choose this route?” And there’s usually a PR answer, but instead, the representative was pretty clear and plain. What did he say? “We basically chose a point of least resistance.” When people aren’t scripted, you can really learn what they believe and what they think.

John: Wow. You don’t usually get a corporate PR line quite so honest. There’s a reason apple’s slogan is “think different” and not “we made all the ports different again. What are you gonna do? Nothing. You’ll do nothing. You’ll buy $100 of new cords that’ll last you until next year when we invent some shit called USB-q or whatever. It’s not even about the money for us anymore, it’s about the erotic rush of power.” Now, I have to tell you the pipeline company insists that rep’s answer didn’t reflect the company’s views, and that he should have said they “look for routes with the least collective impact to the community.” And that definitely does sound better than the truth. Because the fact is, largely minority communities often are seen as the path of least resistance. And while local activists have tried to resist, and for decades, they’ve often done it alone, as big environmental groups, historically, haven’t been the best allies. As this climate justice activist points out, the priorities of the environmental movement have tended to leave certain communities out.

We need to redefine environmentalism to think more inclusively than the traditional perception of the environmental movement, which tends to be on, you know, saving the whales, or flora and fauna. I did a talk recently in a national park and when it was being advertised, there were people who were perplexed and people who were actually opposed to having a conversation about environmental justice.

John: She’s right. Environmentalism clearly shouldn’t just be about protecting wild spaces, humans need protection, too. And I know it’s not the most popular stance, but maybe conservationists could redirect some of the resources to environmental justice that they’ve been completely wasting on pandas. I mean specifically pandas. We spend so much time saving them, and why, exactly? They don’t want to be here. They don’t fuck each other. They spend most of their time falling off something. Watch videos. They are constantly falling dow down. It’s time to left and go. And the thing is, at least with something like shingle mountain, you can see it, so you know to fight it. But sometimes, pollution can be invisible. And those you’d expect to warn you about it, can be incredibly slow to do so, when it comes to communities of color. You’re probably already familiar with what happened to the residents of Flint, Michigan, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. Take the west calumet housing complex in east Chicago, Indiana, a federally assisted housing community built on top of a former lead smelter. The lead levels there were dangerously off the charts. How far off the charts? I’ll let this reporter fill you in.

Well, the safe level is supposed to be 400 parts per million. Well, they found levels of 1,200 parts per million which is already an emergency level. But in some areas in the soil underneath the ground, they have found areas of 45,000 parts per million and even 90,000 parts per million.

John: It’s true. They found lead more than 200 times higher than the level requiring cleanup. Which isn’t great when the place you found it is “the ground”, a thing notoriously difficult to avoid, unless you’re willing to spend the rest of your life playing a very high stakes version of “the floor is lava.” But what’s even worse is, the government knew the area was dangerously toxic decades before they told anyone who lived there. Time and again, regulators had the opportunity to tell residents, and they just… Didn’t. Like in 1985, when the EPA first found high levels of lead in the soil near the housing complex. They didn’t notify residents. Or later, in 1998, when the department of health and human services and state health officials found 30% of children under six in the housing complex had elevated blood lead levels. They didn’t notify residents. Flash forward to 2009, the EPA declared the land west calumet was on a superfund site, making it a priority for contamination cleanup. And still didn’t notify residents. And quick side note: they didn’t have to, because — fun fact — federal law doesn’t require its agencies to tell tenants that a unit is located on a superfund site. Which I truly cannot wrap my head around. The whole point of superfund is to officially classify something in the government record as very dangerous. So it’s not great to do that and then not tell the people actually at risk. That’s like putting a “do not lean over the fence” sign at a bear exhibit and having it face the bear side. Sure, the information is technically out there, but it’s not doing much to improve public safety. Anyway, in 2014, the EPA, the DOJ, the state of Indiana, and the corporations responsible for the contamination agreed on a remediation plan, but still didn’t tell residents about the danger. In fact, it was only in 2016, when the EPA found those lead levels in the soil hundreds of times their maximum permitted level that the city finally sent a letter to residents telling them about the contamination. That is 31 years and eight government agencies later. And even then, the steps the government took were utterly pathetic.

On Monday, the EPA will be passing out flyers like these which have lots of safety tips including reminding families not to let their children play in the dirt, play in the grass, and to remove their shoes before walking into their homes.

I’ve been told to just keep your children out of the grass and out of the areas where the mulch is. How do you do that when children play? That’s what they do.

John: She’s right. Kids want to run around and play. Although in the government’s defense, they did put up that sign. And we all know, there’s nothing children respect more than the authority of a flimsy sign. “Sorry, friends. No frolicking, hijinks or tomfoolery for us today. After all, the sign is watching us.” And while the details in this example may be extraordinary, it’s worth noting that 70% of hazardous waste sites on the superfund list are located within one mile of federally assisted housing. But look, this isn’t just about cleaning pollution that’s already happened. It’s about deciding where industries will be allowed to pollute going forward. And without significant changes, our whole system is currently set up so that places that have already been polluted get worse and worse. There’s even a term, “sacrifice zones”, for areas of the country where it’s both government policy and industry practice to concentrate polluters. Basically, the thinking is, if you’re zoned for industry, and a company’s already there, what’s one more? But people live in those zones. And one such area in Louisiana has even come to be known by an incredibly bleak name.

More than 100 petrochemical plants and refineries dot this corridor between New Orleans and baton rouge, often referred to as cancer alley. Reserve is right in the middle of it, the EPA says the cancer risk here is almost 50 times the national average.

They built this monstrosity up on top of us.

Even the town’s cemetery is surrounded by a refinery.

John: Okay, first, putting an oil refinery around a cemetery is pretty on-the-nose. But also, let’s not gloss over the term “cancer alley.” It’s pretty upsetting to learn that that’s a name for an actual place where people live and not what you’d assume: a slang term for the Marlboro man’s ass crack. It’s no wonder residents of cancer alley are angry industries have been allowed to move in right next to them. And yet, infuriatingly, some local government officials try to downplay the risks.

I think cancer alley, the term cancer alley is a myth really that needs to be debunked. Data that we received from the tumor registry reports this was not cancer alley.

John: Oh, okay, then. But a few things. First, a “tumor registry” may be one of the saddest things I’ve brought up on this show, and we’ve talked about everything from baby crib grenades to orthodontic bullying to the elderly being eaten by alligators. One of those things is real, by the way, and you’ll never guess which one. Mainly because two of those are real. But second, you should know that, since that clip, researchers have, in fact, found that toxic air pollution “is linked to higher cancer rates among impoverished communities in Louisiana,” including this guy’s parish. And while local politicians and industry will be quick to point out the potential economic and employment benefits that come with industry, as a local activist points out, that’s something of a devil’s bargain.

If ISIS showed up and they say they will create jobs, would we let them in?

John: Exactly. For the record, that man is a retired three-star general. So when he’s comparing something to ISIS, he’s really comparing something to ISIS. And as residents there will point out, they are, in many ways, trapped.

Why haven’t you moved?

Why should I move? How can I move? I struggled all my life to build this. Right now, in good conscience, who would I actually sell this house to? What poor, unsuspecting family would I trick into moving into this death trap?

John: I know the reporter is just doing her job. But that’s such a ridiculous question that man would have been fully within his right to make the rest of that interview the most passive aggressive interaction of all time. “Why don’t I move? Huh! Now that you mention it, I hadn’t even considered moving away from cancer alley! Sounded so nice. What a great idea! Hold on, let me just throw up a Zillow listing for ‘deathtrap’ and I’ll sit back and wait for a bidding war to begin.” And when you put all this together: a history of racist zoning, ineffective regulation, and a government that continues to prioritize the profits of industry over the health of people, it’s clear we have a massive problem. And the good news is, the current president seems to agree with that.

The unrelenting impact of climate change affects every single, solitary one of us. But too often the brunt falls disproportionately on communities of color, exacerbating the need for environmental justice — sorry, there’s a bug. Speaking of the environment.

John: I don’t love that a random bug undermined the genuinely important point he was making there, but I will say this: at least now Biden knows what it feels like when someone creeps on the back of his neck. The fact is, though, Biden did make environmental justice a pillar of his campaign, and since taking office, he’s promised, among other things, to funnel forty percent of relevant climate investments to disadvantaged communities, and to issue a yearly scorecard that measures progress. Which sounds great. Unfortunately, so far, his administration still hasn’t set clear goals to accomplish this. And even worse, in February, it said that “race will not be a factor in deciding where to focus efforts,” which is pretty infuriating. And the administration will point out that the supreme court, in its current makeup, is likely to strike down any explicitly race-based policy. Which may well be true. But we’re in a pretty fucking backwards situation when any solutions to this problem have to be race-blind, despite the fact that the causes of it are so demonstrably not. So what can we do? Well, as you’ve seen again and again in the stories tonight, it’s local activists on the ground who’ve been working tirelessly to fight for their communities and gain concessions. And they deserve more support from larger environmentalist groups, even as they continue leading the way. At the government level, we need significant zoning reform to keep polluters and residents safely apart. Because the status quo is just not acceptable. Because when this country designates communities of color as “sacrifice zones”, the clear message is that the people who live in them are expendable. That it’s okay for their kids to not be able to play outside and for their lifespans to be shorter. And unless we make big steps to address environmental racism and call it what it is, a brutal divide is going to stay in place, where some are treated like they’re worth protecting, and others like they can be sacrificed. And now this.

* * *

Announcer: I know people on tv read rejected license plates out loud.

The Texas DMV rejected thousands of personalized license plates. Saying no way to some stranger asks from drivers.

Know that someone already tried fartagus. Denied. Request. How about this one? The driver said he’s involved in breeding sheep.

Hit man. Poop. Bite me.

Hooker using zeros for the oh. One person requested a tag that said [bleep] [bleep] [bleep].

That’s fun.

I farted? That’s hilarious.

Let’s see what we’ve got.

[Bleep].

Dr. Poop. That’s a suggestion. I don’t have to go further than that.

Quickie, shag, kissed my [bleep]. [Bleep] [bleep] [bleep]. We have covered them nicely.

John: That’s our show. Thanks so much for watching. See you next week. Good night.

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