The Relationship Between Renewable Energy Manufacturers and Host Communities

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As public opinion increasingly favors renewable energy, we must consider the communities that manufacture and dispose of materials related to renewable energy. The future will always be dependent on people receiving accurate information about the impact of possible choices. When comparing renewable energy to conventional or carbon-intensive energy sources, we use life cycle analyses to show the significant benefits of renewable energy especially in relation to global warming. While true, we must consider the communities who will bear the burden of the negative environmental and health impacts of renewable energy. Research depicted in this study focused on renewable energy manufacturing communities throughout the United States. This research shows that the solar, wind, ethanol, and biodiesel manufacturing communities tend to be low-income white communities. Approximately half of these communities are contending with particulate matter and ozone levels above the national average. These communities are inclined to have lower traffic, Superfund, and hazardous waste proximity. The most common violations of the manufacturing facilities are reporting violations and equipment violations. Top penalties paid to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state agencies are in relation to the Clean Air Act. The majority of the facilities have water permits even if they do not normally make production-related water releases. This allows these facilities to release chemicals in cases of remedial actions and catastrophic events. Between the renewable energy manufacturers, ethanol had the highest amount, types, and number of violations of chemical releases. When considering chemicals releases, it is important to recognize production levels and share of the energy market varies among renewable manufacturers.  
environmental justice, renewable energy, manufacturing, Toxic Release Inventory (TRI)