California famously prides itself on environmental leadership — but what about when its lawmakers overlook problems in their own constituents’ backyards? It’s still legal to drill for oil there right next to schools and hospitals — despite well documented health risks to anyone nearby. In the video op-ed above, Josiah Edwards explains what it was like to grow up breathing in the toxic chemicals expelled by drilling. He traces the asthma that plagues his entire family to decades of redlining in Los Angeles County, which consigned Black and brown communities like theirs to live next to active oil wells. Even today, politicians keep rejecting legislation that would help protect Californians from these poisonous emissions. You may not have an oil drill in your backyard now, but if you live in California, there’s nothing stopping one from moving in tomorrow.
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