Sammy Roth, an Energy and Environment reporter for the LA Times is facing backlash after he made the statement that white drivers are “polluting the air” for black and Latino citizens.
In his piece, Roth wrote that LA’s city freeway planning is “racially motivated” because it causes white people from the suburbs to drive through neighborhoods where non-white citizens live every day on their way to work, subsequently polluting the air.
Roth cited a conversation with author and USC professor Geoff Boeing who had written a report about “local inequities in the relative production and exposure to vehicular air pollution in Los Angeles.”
“[Boeing] told me it largely comes down to the shameful history of Los Angeles County’s low-income communities of color being torn apart to make way for freeways – a history that has been extensively documented by The Times,” Roth wrote.
“Today, many residents of the county’s whiter, more affluent neighborhoods – who were often able to keep highways out of their own backyards – commute to work through lower-income Black and Latino neighborhoods bisected y the 10, 110, and 105 freeways and more.”
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Boeing’s report said, “Commuters from majority-White tracts disproportionately drive through non-White tracts, compared to the inverse.”
“Decades of racially-motivated freeway infrastructure planning and residential segregation shape today’s disparities in who produces vehicular air pollution and who is exposed to it, but opportunities exist for urban planning and transport policy to mitigate this injustice,” the report said.
Roth’s claims quickly sparked backlash on social media and were largely criticized for being “idiotic.”
Roth’s piece was also flagged on Twitter as inaccurate. A notice said, “This claim is false.”
“This assumption is based on research that those who drive tend to be exposed to less air pollution while those who drive less tend to be exposed to more pollution.”
Nick Short, the Communications Director for the Claremont Institute, wrote, “Congratulations to the author of this piece. You have managed to write not only the most idiotic but racist piece of 2023!”
Congratulations to the author of this piece @Sammy_Roth. You have managed to write not only the most idiotic but racist piece of 2023!
— Nick Short (@PoliticalShort) March 9, 2023