Air Check: petroleum and pollution from a community perspective is a joint reporting project with Newsdesk.org and part of an experiment in funding public media from the ground-up on a per-story basis via innovative, public media crowd-funder Spot.us.
Los Angeles is home to some of the most powerful community organizations and proactive public health programs to combat air pollution. So why is L.A. consistently the city with the dirtiest air in the U.S.?
For the next four months, our team will take a closer look at petroleum-fueled transportation and air pollution across LA’s landscape. We’re doing this in the most concrete way we can think of – following the journey of one barrel of oil.
Hear in the City reporters will trace the transportation route from where local oil is (still) harvested in historic Baldwin Hill , across the 10 Freeway, down the 710 corridor to the ports, and ending up at Wilmington and San Pedro’s refineries. This path follows some of the most dangerous heavy cargo traffic in the state, passing through neighborhoods divided by federal highway funds and local redevelopment politics.
Along our radio journey, we will connect with communities and find out what historic factors have led to an entrenched land-use that continues local pollution – and what forward-thinking people who are most affected are doing to change the quality of the air they breathe every day.
One unexpected question that arises from looking at local LA oil production and processing: Where is the final product consumed and what are the consequences of its transport for local communities?
How will Air Check help?
This series brings people affected by some of the most persistent point-source air pollution in the city to the forefront of a conversation about air quality and environmental justice. From the oilfields of the solidly middle-class, Black, Baldwin Hills neighborhood, to the working-class Latino families who live along the 710 Freeway corridor, in LAUSD schools sited dangerously close to freeways and using outdated diesel buses, and with community groups working with industry to demand tougher air regulations at the Ports of Los Angeles, Air Check would actively engage disproportionately impacted communities instead of using their stories to pepper news copy or spark one-off outrage that quickly fades away. We’ve chosen these communities to report with because scant media attention is paid to the air pollution they deal with daily. Rarely, if ever, do we hear who is working to change the situation and how.