In recognition of Earth Day, government watchdog Accountable.US is taking an opportunity to remind the public that the American Petroleum Institute (API) put out a statement after George Floyd’s murder lamenting the disproportionate health crisis faced by people of color, even though it has called science linking increased health risks in communities of color to oil industry pollution an “attack” on the industry and suggested the numbers could be explained by “genetics.” 

“Multiple studies show Black people and communities of color face disproportionate health risks thanks to pollution from the oil and gas industry. Rather than addressing this crisis head-on, the American Petroleum Institute claimed ‘genetics’ were causing the problem,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “It is critical to acknowledge the plight of the Black community, especially on Earth Day. Environmental racism cannot be properly addressed when America’s largest oil and gas industry organization blames communities of color for health crises caused by industry pollution. We cannot have climate justice without racial justice.” 

Multiple Studies Show That Oil Industry Pollution Disproportionately Affects The Health Of Black People And Communities Of Color  

NAACP, The Clean Air Task Force, And The Trump-Era EPA All Agree: Communities Of Color Bear The Brunt Of The Oil Industry’s Pollution 

 A 2017 Study Showed That African Americans Faced A Disproportionate Health Risk From Oil Industry Pollution. “African-Americans face a disproportionate risk of health problems from pollution caused by the oil and gas industry, and the situation could worsen as President Donald Trump dismantles environmental regulations, according to a report issued on Tuesday by a pair of advocacy groups.” [Reuters, 11/14/17 

When Faced With Clear Scientific Evidence That The Oil Industry Hurt Communities Of Color, API Callously Blamed “Genetics”  

 API Initially Declined To Comment On The NAACP Study—Then Took Two Days To Decide To Call It An “Attack” On The Oil Industry. The Real Problem, API Contends, Is “Genetics”   

API Initially Declined To Comment On The NAACP Study. “Officials for the American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel and Petrochemicals Manufacturers, which represent the country’s largest fossil fuels companies, did not immediately comment on the report.” [Reuters, 11/14/17

Two Days Later, API Characterized The NAACP Study As An “Attack” On “Our Industry.” “…But attacking our industry is the wrong approach and detracts from the real work that should be done to reduce disparately high rates of disease among African Americans. Let’s be clear – the natural gas and oil industry is: Committed to the health and safety of the communities where it operates and to its workers…” [American Petroleum Institute, 11/16/17

The American Petroleum Institute Dismissed The Findings, Blaming It On “Genetics.” “I’ve read an NAACP paper released this week that accuses the natural gas and oil industry of emissions that disproportionately burden African American communities. As a scientist, my overall observation is that the paper fails to demonstrate a causal relationship between natural gas activity and the health disparities, reported or predicted, within the African American community. Rather, scholarly research attributes those health disparities to other factors that have nothing to do with natural gas and oil operations – such as genetics, indoor allergens and unequal access to preventative care.” [American Petroleum Institute, 11/16/17

Then, After The Murder Of George Floyd, API’s CEO Had The Gall To Write A Note About “Health And Economic Crises That Disproportionately Affect People Of Color”  

In June 2020, API CEO Mike Sommers Wrote A Note To Staff On “Racism And Discrimination.” Sommers wrote, “From the videotaped horror and injustice of George Floyd’s murder to the protests and unrest taking place across dozens of U.S. cities – all amid health and economic crises that disproportionately affect people of color – I have spent time trying to square the American promise of equality with the actual experience and pain that millions of Americans live and feel on a daily basis. Of course, what happened in Minnesota was not an isolated event, as we know from history and recent months with Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and other unspeakable examples of mistreatment and racism.” [LinkedIn, 06/02/20

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