Toxic Birmingham: Power, Pollution and Corruption
Media Inquiries: Please contact Michael Hansen, Executive Director, at 205-701-4270 or [email protected]
Note: This is a living story. We will update this article periodically with new information, additional context, and more links as we discover them — and find the time!
In 2009 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began the process of screening for air toxics — pollutants that cause or may cause cancer or other serious health effects — around public schools. As a part of this national survey, the EPA conducted air sampling at three schools in the northern Birmingham area. The data showed elevated levels of these hazardous air pollutants. The EPA and the Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) subsequently conducted a longer-term air toxics study in the neighborhoods of Fairmont, Collegeville, Harriman Park, and North Birmingham. According to the EPA, the air quality levels were at the high end of the “acceptable” range for air toxics.
Air toxics have for years been a concern in the northern Birmingham communities. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), air samples were collected around the communities by the EPA and JCDH at various points from 2005–2012. Various conclusions have been reached for different pollutants, including, but not limited to:
- Air quality levels were at the high end of the “acceptable” range, and occasionally exceeded that range for air toxics.
- Past and current exposures to particulate matter in northern Birmingham could affect the health of sensitive individuals (e.g., children, seniors, pregnant women, and people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular disease).
In summer of 2009, the EPA also oversaw soil sampling in those neighborhoods — including at the Hudson K-8 School. They found high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and arsenic, among other toxic contaminants. As al.com reported at the time: “By the time the results of unacceptable levels of potentially toxic contaminants came back, the old school had been demolished and a new $14.5 million Hudson School had been built. Since the site had been disturbed during construction, soil was tested again in August 2010, and showed lesser, but still unacceptable, levels of contamination.”
In August 2011, CBS 42 aired “Deadly Deception” (above) an hour-long investigative report that exposed the public health crisis in those communities. The documentary prompted additional EPA testing and created a cry for help from residents. The EPA ultimately used authorities under Superfund (part of a federal law that makes available funding) to assess properties in the four aforementioned communities for the possible soil and water pollution. In 2012, the EPA began testing more than 1,200 properties for contamination and removing and replacing soil that exceeded levels for hazardous pollutants like lead, arsenic, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This project is what became known as the “35th Avenue Superfund Site.” In 2013, the EPA identified five potentially responsible parties (PRP): Alagasco, KMAC Services, U.S. Pipe & Foundry, Walter Coke (now ERP Coke) and Drummond Company (ABC Coke).
GASP WEIGHS IN
Since the organization was founded in 2009, Gasp has been advocating for stronger air pollution enforcement on behalf of members and alongside residents of the northern Birmingham communities. In particular, we have been working with community members and leaders to address the historic and ongoing toxic contamination from two coking plants: ABC Coke (owned by Drummond Company) and ERP Compliant Coke (formerly Walter Coke).
Gasp commented on both plants’ Title V permits in 2014 (embedded below). We urged JCDH to reject the permit applications and make the permits more restrictive of emissions. When JCDH proceeded with granting the permit anyway, we petitioned EPA to reject them. They did not, but EPA did offer some very helpful analysis of our request in doing so.
ABC Coke Permit Comments (2014)
Walter Coke Permit Comments (2014)
GASP v. BOARD OF HEALTH
The Department of Health mostly ignored our comments on ABC Coke’s permit in 2014 — not to mention the hundreds of residents who testified about the soot accumulating on their home and property; how their health was impacted by the pollution; and how they are concerned for their children’s health. As a result, we filed a request for a hearing with the Jefferson County Board of Health, the body that oversees the Department. The Board of Health denied our request for a hearing in dramatic fashion — having security escort our attorney out of the room.
We took the Board of Health to court, arguing that we had a right to a hearing according to the relevant rules and regulations, resulting in a victory in the Jefferson County Circuit Court, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, and eventually at the Alabama Supreme Court. That matter was technically never resolved, partly because Drummond Company applied for a permit renewal for ABC Coke in the summer of 2018 (more than a year prior to its existing permit’s expiration date).
We took the same action on the Walter Coke permit, but that case was dropped because Walter Energy filed for bankruptcy.
TOXIC CITY: BIRMINGHAM’S DIRTY SECRET
On June 12, 2014, we premiered Toxic City Birmingham’s Dirty Secret, a 26-minute documentary about the environmental justice issues facing North Birmingham at Carver Theatre. The film highlights the real-life stories and the suffering of residents living around the heavy industrial plants throughout northern Birmingham area, including Tarrant (where ABC Coke is located).
Simultaneously, during the summer of 2014, we asked the EPA to look into the possibility that there may also be contamination issues and air pollution problems in nearby Tarrant. The EPA granted our request and conducted a Preliminary Assessment, or PA, which was completed on June 29, 2015. The PA, using existing evidence and documentation, found enough evidence to justify further investigation. (That site became known as the “Pinson Valley Site,” which included Tarrant as well as the Inglenook neighborhood of Birmingham immediately to the south.) The next step after the PA was to conduct a Site Inspection (SI), which involved the EPA working with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to gain access to properties in the Pinson Valley Site area to collect soil samples and test for pollutants (like those they tested for in northern Birmingham). In July 2016, the EPA concluded that the SI results did not warrant further action.
In September 2014, the EPA announced that it was proposing to add the 35th Avenue Site to the National Priorities List (NPL). This move would bring in Superfund money to finance long-term remediation. Under NPL, EPA can also require the potentially responsible parties to help pay for the cleanup. Gasp organized in support of this effort, as the additional funding could go a long way towards community restoration and revitalization — and holding polluters accountable for their mess is a core value for our organization. We proposed a resolution of support of NPL to Birmingham City Council members William Parker (District 4) and Steven Hoyt (District 8). We reached out to Birmingham Mayor William Bell and asked him to support the proposed resolution and to come out publicly in support of the NPL proposal. To our knowledge (based on what is available in the public record via the Federal Register and open records requests), neither the city council nor the mayor’s office ever officially supported (or opposed) the NPL listing proposal. Gasp submitted formal comments to EPA in support of adding the site to the NPL.
During this same period in 2014, we wrote to Beverly Bannister at EPA asking for the agency to take further action on air monitoring in the north Birmingham area. In particular, we requested “air monitoring of both ambient air quality and fugitive emissions from Drummond’s ABC Coke plant and Walter Energy’s Walter Coke plant utilizing the Differential Absorption Lidar system referred to as DIAL.” That method was used at the Tonawanda Coke plant in Tonawanda, NY, and resulted in legal actions being taken due to significant discrepancies between reported benzene emissions and actual emissions. It was also discussed in Toxic City.
CIVIL RIGHTS ACT COMPLAINT
Our analysis of the depth and breadth of the problem(s) facing the neighborhoods and residents in North Birmingham and Tarrant leads us to the inevitable conclusion that our work cannot be limited to air permits and other wonky (but important) regulatory actions. That is why, using every tool in the toolbox, we worked with David A. Ludder to file two Title VI complaints against the Jefferson County Department of Health, one each for the issuance of the ABC Coke and Walter Coke permits. Title VI is a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that forbids recipients of federal funds from discriminating on the basis of race, color, and national origin.
The complaint, filed on behalf of several Gasp members, alleged that the health department did not consider the disparate impact of toxic air pollution on overwhelmingly African-American communities when it granted pollution permits to the two facilities. (Disparate impact in this context is a term that refers to something that, while it seems neutral on its face, adversely effects a protected class of people more than another.)
On June 26, 2017, we submitted several suggestions to the EPA Office of Civil Rights detailing recommendations for how to resolve the complaint. Our proposal included suggestions for: enhanced monitoring, control of odors, control of particulate matter, reduction of air toxics, and dramatically improved public notice and participation.
THE DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN
While Gasp worked with community members to activate grassroots and grasstops support for listing the 35th Avenue site on the NPL and EPA expanding its study area to the Pinson Valley Neighborhood Site, opposition began to surface as well. Because we have been actively involved in these communities and working alongside leaders, we have been privy to and engaged in almost every twist and turn involved in bringing much-needed relief to these communities. Gasp and our members are some of the few people not surprised at the public corruption that all but put a stop to the communities’ ability to receive relief from Superfund. Those corrupt tactics also thwarted EPA’s effort to perform a meaningful and thorough investigation into potential contamination in Tarrant and Inglenook.
One question we hear all the time, in light of the indictments and convictions, is “why did Drummond care so much about the possible NPL designation and the investigation in Tarrant?” Well, it’s pretty simple: Drummond would be liable for millions of dollars of clean-up costs if the NPL listing went through or if the investigation into Tarrant showed significant contamination.
How did the conspiracy work? Drummond Company hired Birmingham law firm Balch & Bingham, LLP to represent them on matters related to its ABC Coke plant and the EPA cleanup activities in the northern Birmingham area. Once the EPA proposed adding the 35th Avenue Site to the National Priorities List and granted our petition for a preliminary assessment in the adjacent area, the Drummond campaign went into high gear.
Balch signed a contract with then-State Rep. Oliver Robinson (District 58) to use his influence as an elected official to help stop the EPA from listing the 35th Avenue Site on the NPL and from investigating pollution in Tarrant and Inglenook. He was being paid via his nonprofit charitable organization, the Oliver Robinson Foundation, by a sham nonprofit, “the Alliance for Jobs and the Economy,” set up by Drummond Company specifically for this anti-EPA campaign.
On December 23, 2014, Robinson recorded a private meeting between him, former Gasp Executive Director Dr. Stacie Propst, and Gasp Staff Attorney Haley Lewis discussing the EPA’s NPL proposal. He then gave a presentation to the Alabama Environmental Management Commission in January 2015 asking the AEMC to maintain its opposition to the NPL proposal. (Dr. Propst had given a presentation to the AEMC earlier in December 2014 asking the Commission to direct Lance LeFleur, director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, to reverse ADEM’s position and support the NPL proposal.)
The two lead attorneys at Balch & Bingham for this work on behalf of Drummond were Joel Iverson Gilbert and Steven George McKinney. They worked alongside Drummond Vice President of Governmental Affairs David Lynn Roberson. In addition to hiring Robinson to use his influence as a lawmaker, they also worked with SE+C (part of Strada Professional Services), a firm owned in part by Scott Phillips and Trey Glenn. They brought in several influential community members like Catrena Norris Carter, Hezekiah Jackson, and John Powe to assist with “community outreach” work. Amanda Robinson, daughter of Oliver, set up a phony community group called “Get Smart Tarrant,” which urged residents in Tarrant and Inglenook not to let EPA test their soil. Hezekiah Jackson went so far as to coordinate a “coat drive” — offering people who sat through a Get Smart Tarrant presentation a gift card to Burlington Coat Factory.
Bill Canary, the ousted former president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, published a series of embarrassingly bad op-eds in multiple media outlets across the state of Alabama in 2015. BCA is a “statewide business advocacy organization and the exclusive representative in Alabama to the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.” Members of BCA include major polluters like Alabama Power and Drummond Company. While it’s unclear whether or not he had an official role in the campaign, Canary was and BCA is an industry front group and ally of Drummond Company.
Gilbert, McKinney and Roberson were indicted on September 28, 2017 for several corruption charges, including conspiracy, bribery, honest services wire fraud, and money laundering. McKinney’s charges were eventually dropped during trial. Robinson was indicted on charges of conspiracy, bribery, honest services wire fraud, three other counts of wire fraud, and tax evasion.
US Attorney Jay Town said at the time of the indictments, “This is the worse type of public corruption. It was all done with the greed of a few and at the expense of so many families and children living in potentially toxic areas. It’s cheaper to pay for a politician than it is to pay for an environmental cleanup.”
Robinson pleaded guilty to all charges and testified against Gilbert and Roberson in the trial. Gilbert and Roberson were found guilty and sentenced to 60 and 30 months in prison, respectively. Robinson was sentenced to 33 months.
Below are some of additional ways this highly sophisticated, well-funded disinformation campaign showed up in actions taken by local and state government agents from 2014 until very recently:
- The Alabama Department of Environmental Management was initially supportive of the proposal with the caveat that the state wouldn’t be able to contribute its 10% share (a statutory requirement, but not a deal breaker).
- The City of Tarrant passed a resolution in opposition to both the NPL proposal and the EPA’s Site Inspection in the area.
- The Jefferson County Commission on October 9, 2014, passed a resolution entitled, “A Resolution to Support the City of Tarrant, Alabama, and Its Resolution in Opposition to the July 1, 2014 Petition of G.A.S.P. to theUnited States Environmental Protection Agency to Investigate andDeclare Residential Areas in the City of Tarrant to be a Superfund Site.”
- Both houses of the Alabama Legislature passed a resolution (Senate Joint Resolution 97) sponsored by Alabama Sen. Jabo Waggoner (Vestavia Hills) opposing and condemning the EPA’s activities in northern Birmingham and Tarrant.
- Alabama Governor Robert Bentley wrote a letter to the EPA adamantly opposing their actions.
- Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange did the same thing, twice. It is worth noting that Strange received several objectively large campaign contributions from Drummond during the political off-season. For example, when Drummond donated $25,000 to Strange’s reelection campaign, less than a week later — on October 23, 2014 to be precise — he sent a formal letter to the EPA in which he described the NPL listing “premature” and “futile.”
- The entire Alabama Congressional delegation except for Rep. Terri Sewell — which at the time consisted of Sen. Richard Shelby, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Rep. Bradley Byrne, Rep. Martha Roby, Rep. Robert Aderholt, Rep. Spencer Bachus, Rep. Mo Brooks and Rep. Mike Rogers — signed a joint letter to the EPA opposing its NPL proposal.
We have uploaded hundreds of documents to our Scribd account. There you will find exhibits from USA v. Gilbert, emails, petitions, and other public records. Don’t see something linked in this article? Check Scribd!
CORRECTING THE RECORD
- Gasp is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to advance healthy air and environmental justice across the greater-Birmingham area through education, advocacy and collaboration. Our mission is not to shut down industry or kill jobs — anyone who says otherwise is lying.
- Gasp has never received money (i.e., a grant) from EPA or any other government agency (i.e., JCDH or ADEM) for any purpose whatsoever. The overwhelming majority of our funding comes from individuals who live and work in Birmingham. We receive some funding from charitable foundations that support environmental work. We also receive some sponsorships from local companies.
- Gasp petitioned the EPA to investigate pollution in the Tarrant area in 2014. We believe residents have a right to know what’s in the air they’re breathing and how air pollution is affecting other aspects of their health and the environment.
- Gasp’s mission and focus is air quality, not soil sampling. We have never sampled anyone’s soil.
- Gasp has never, and will never, seek to declare anyone’s property a “hazardous waste site.” We do, however, work alongside community members and leaders to address air quality issues.
- Superfund and/or NPL does not mean your property is a “toxic dump” nor is it automatically a bad thing for property values. Ample research has concluded that while effects vary, remediation of environmental contamination has a positive effect on property values in the long run.
- Air quality cannot be certified as “good” for an entire city or neighborhood by Gasp, JCDH, EPA, or any other agency or organization. You can check air quality for your ZIP code every day (and a forecast for the next day) on our website or through the AirNow website (airnow.gov).
- Air modeling is a way to take emissions into account while also considering wind direction, which affects where particles emitted into the air end up.
- ABC Coke emits pollutants into the air, which can and do settle onto people’s homes and property and can affect their health.
- If you’d like Gasp to make an Air Quality 101 presentation for you, or if you have any questions at all, please reach out to us (205-701-4270 or [email protected]).
- On July 20, 2018, Balch & Bingham Attorney Joel Gilbert and Drummond Vice President David Roberson were each found guilty of six counts of criminal corruption charges in federal court: conspiracy, bribery, three counts of honest services wire fraud, and money laundering. Gilbert was sentenced to five years (60 months) in prison and Roberson was sentenced to two and a half years (30 months). Both men remain out on bond while they appeal the ruling. The charges against Steve McKinney, third man indicted on corruption charges, were dropped. McKinney was the head of the environmental division at Balch & Bingham.
- Former State Rep. Oliver Robinson pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bribery, four counts of fraud, and tax evasion. Gilbert and Roberson hired Robinson to oppose the EPA’s NPL proposal for the 35th Avenue Site and site investigation in Tarrant. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison and is currently serving his sentence at a “low-security federal prison in Seagoville, Texas,” according to al.com.
- As mentioned above, Drummond Company submitted to the Jefferson County Department of Health a permit renewal application for the ABC Coke Title V Operating Permit (aka, its air pollution permit) a year early. Gasp asked for and was granted an extension of the deadline for the public comment period as well as a public hearing so that residents and other interested parties put any issues with the permit and the facility on the record to the health department. We worked with experts to analyze both the ABC Coke permit application and draft permit and submitted detailed comments on the deficiencies and opportunities to better protect public health. You can read our comments here.
- In August 2018, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin weighed in after the trial of Gilbert and Roberson asking EPA to proceed with the National Priorities List proposal.
- Shortly after Woodfin sent a letter to EPA, Senator Doug Jones revealed at a town hall that he had sent a similar letter to EPA.
- Rep. Terri Sewell, who represents the north Birmingham community in Congress, renewed her support for the EPA’s cleanup efforts.
- On February 8, 2019, the Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, and Jefferson County Board of Health announced that they had entered into a consent decree with Drummond Company as a result Clean Air Act violations. The settlement was a result of benzene emissions from the ABC Coke plant. Drummond was ordered to pay $775,000 split evenly between EPA and JCBH. The consent decree is not yet final as of Feb. 26, 2019. The public may weigh in on the consent decree by March 11 via email at [email protected] or mail:
Assistant Attorney General
P.O. Box 7611
Washington, DC 20044-7611
- Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM): This is the state agency charged with regulating pollution and overseeing environmental matters throughout Alabama.
- Alabama Environmental Management Commission (EMC): The body that oversees the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. The EMC is essentially ADEM’s board of directors. Appointments are made by the Governor.
- Alliance for Jobs & the EconomyThis was an incorporated 501(c)(3) organization created by David Roberson (Drummond) and Mike Thompson (Thompson Tractor). The AJE was formed to create a coalition of polluting businesses and their friends who opposed the EPA’s cleanup and sampling in Birmingham and Tarrant. Members included heavy hitters like Alabama Power.
- Amanda Robinson: Oliver Robinson’s daughter, Amanda was the point of contact for “Get Smart Tarrant.” She was paid $3,000/month to attend community meetings and perform community outreach encouraging people to not let EPA test their soil (and if they did let EPA test to have their soil also sampled by Get Smart Tarrant).
- Catrena Norris Carter: A community activist, Carter was paid by STRADA Consulting (SE+C) to help Get Smart Tarrant with community outreach to stop EPA from testing soil in Tarrant and to help recruit people to oppose NPL listing.
- David Roberson: He is the former Vice-President of Governmental Affairs for Drummond Company, a private, multibillion dollar coal company based in Birmingham. Roberson was indicted alongside Joel Gibert and Steve McKinney (who was dismissed from the charges) for the corruption scheme to bribe Rep. Oliver Robinson to oppose EPA cleanup efforts. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
- Get Smart Tarrant: This was a front-group for the Drummond anti-EPA campaign. Get Smart was never incorporated as a business or nonprofit organization. The name was used on yard signs and literature distributed in the community by people hired to oppose the EPA in the area.
- Hezekiah Jackson: The long-time leader of the Birmingham chapter of the NAACP, Jackson also attended community meetings and helped with Get Smart Tarrant “outreach.” Of note, he was paid to hold a coat drive in Tarrant to garner goodwill with residents. In exchange for sitting through a pro-Drummond presentation people received a gift card to Burlington Coat Factory. He was outside as the leader of the Birmingham chapter of the NAACP after his role was revealed and he faced public backlash.
- Joel Gilbert: A now-former Balch & Bingham attorney, Gilbert was described by prosecutors in the eponymous trial as the mastermind behind the scheme to thwart the EPA cleanup effort and Gasp. He was indicted on multiple charges in 2017 and convicted in 2018 on six federal corruption counts. He was sentenced to five years in prison. He is currently out on bond pending appeal of the conviction.
- John Powe: He is currently Chief Deputy Jefferson County Tax Assessor. He was paid to work in the community and both encourage people in Tarrant to not have their soil tested and stop the 35th Avenue Site from being listed on the NPL. He worked closely with Oliver Robinson by meeting with pastors and other elected officials.
- Lance LeFleur: The Director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. He was pressured by Gov. Robert Bentley, Attorney General Luther Strange, and Joel Gilbert to oppose the EPA’s National Priorities List proposal.
- Lanier Brown: Brown was Chairman of the EMC. He had drinks with Oliver Robinson, Trey Glenn and Scott Phillips at Daniel George, a fine dining restaurant in Mountain Brook, to discuss NPL listing. He received “talking points” from Trey Glenn to help rebut Gasp’s aforementioned PowerPoint presentation to the EMC presentation. He distributed those talking points to the other commissioners. He also participated in conference calls with Joel Gilbert. On July 23, 2015 Joel Gilbert emailed a copy of Senate Joint Resolution 97 to Brown. On October 18, 2015, Brown sent a letter to his fellow commissioners echoing talking points sent to him by Amanda Robinson about expanding the Superfund site into Tarrant. Gilbert and Brown remained in constant communication throughout 2016 regarding EPA’s sampling in Tarrant.
- Loxcil Tuck: She is the long-time mayor of Tarrant. She opposed Gasp’s work in the city and circulated a letter bashing us and EPA via customer utility bills. She was in frequent communication with Drummond Co. officials, often via city attorney Ben Goldman.
- Rep. Oliver Robinson: A former UAB basketball star, Robinson represented Alabama’s 58th district in the state House of Representatives from 1998 until he abruptly resigned in 2016. He was the first person indicted in the anti-EPA Superfund corruption scandal. He was paid more than $360,000 by Drummond Company (and through Balch & Bingham and the Alliance for Jobs & the Economy) for various work to oppose the EPA and Gasp. He was indicted on multiple corruption charges in April 2017 and eventually pleaded guilty. He was sentenced in 2018 to three years in prison.
- Dr. Samuel Miller: The current Chairman of the EMC. He was on the Commission during the entire period in question.
- Scott Phillips: A former Environmental Management Commission (EMC) member for ADEM. Phillips resigned from the EMC in 2017. He worked with Trey Glenn at a group called STRADA Consulting (also referred to as SE-C). They contracted with Balch & Bingham (who wrote the checks and were reimbursed by Drummond) to perform community outreach work, technical analysis and strategic advice for dealing with the NPL proposed listing and EPA site inspection in Tarrant. The major issue with Phillips is this work he did to undermine EPA occurred at the same time as he served on the EMC (the governing body of ADEM), whose mission is to “assure for all citizens
of the State a safe, healthful, and productive environment.” He did many things, but most noteworthy is that he sent to Balch & Bingham (by way of forwarding to Trey Glenn) an advance copy of a PowerPoint presenta-tion Gasp was planning to make to the EMC in December of 2014 advocating for adding the 35th Avenue Site to the NPL. At trial, one of his PowerPoint presentations was presented as evidence. In it he talked about “infiltrating the [North Birmingham Community Coalition]” as a strategy. Phillips was indicted in November 2018 for violations of the Alabama Ethics Law.
- Steve McKinney: A former Balch & Bingham attorney, McKinney was initially indicted for corruption charges for his role in the anti-EPA campaign but was later dismissed from the case. He was chair of the firm’s environment division at the time.
- Tina Bennett: Tina was a member of the second class of EPA’s Environmental Justice Academy in 2016 on behalf of the Oliver Robinson Foundation. She also notarized Get Smart Tarrant affidavits and has since attended community meetings, with John Powe, regarding the mineral wool piles on ERP Coke’s property.
- Trey Glenn: He worked with Scott Phillips and Strada Consulting, where they were con-tracted by Balch & Bingham to perform community outreach work, technical analysis, and strategic advice for dealing with the NPL proposal and EPA Site Inspection in Tarrant. Glenn was subsequently appointed by the Trump Administration to the head of EPA Region 4, meaning he oversaw all EPA deci-sions affecting Alabama. He initially recused himself for a year regarding this situation. Glenn has since been indicted alongside Scott Phillips by the State of Alabama for ethics charges for his role.
Support Our Work
This work has been incredibly time-intensive and expensive. (We spent well over $100,000 fighting the old ABC Coke permit in court from 2014-2018.) We know that Gasp was under attack from billion-dollar corporations, lobbyists, lawmakers, and “community organizers” whose primary interests were power and greed. We did and are continuing to do the organizing that will ultimately lead to healthier air and environmental justice for the people of Birmingham. And if more people have to be indicted along the way — so be it. We need your support to keep doing this work! We appreciate your financial support and need it now more than ever.