The UK government has been accused of environmental racism in the US south due to its subsidies of £2 million (~$2.17 million) a day to Drax.
The accusations arise from an investigation conducted by Greenpeace’s investigative unit, Unearthed, which has come across evidence that Drax Biomass has paid out millions of dollars over air pollution claims back in 2019.
According to the results of the investigation, Drax had exceeded limits on chemical substance emissions from three of its wood pellet mills, two of which are located in low-income, predominantly black communities.
The breaches had to do in particular with the emissions of volatile organic compounds or VOCs, which is a class of air pollutant known to cause respiratory diseases and other health issues, including cancer.
Katherine Egland, a director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), spoke to Unearthed, saying that, by subsidizing Drax’ operations, the UK government is essentially funding environmental racism.
She went on further to invite the UK government to visit some of the communities that are affected by the company’s violations and see first-hand the level of harm that is inflicted upon them.
Critics of Drax and its bioenergy facilities claim that the company has been presenting itself as green back home in the UK, in the deep South in the US it is all but the opposite, with accusations of disproportionately exposing communities of color to harmful air pollutants.
Drax has denied all such allegations, however, and had paid millions of dollars in settlements without admitting any liability.
This recent event only adds fuel to the proverbial (and not so much) fire of controversy surrounding the pellet-burning company, as an increasing number of environmentalists are expressing their doubts about whether or not woody biomass can indeed be classified as a source of green energy.