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Deep South Towns Are Counting on Biden to Keep His Climate Promises

The president promised to direct cash toward communities on the front lines of climate change. Lowndes County is one of them.

Perman Hardy

Perman Hardy

Photographer: Bob Miller/Redux

The rich topsoil of Lowndes County, Alabama, was an asset in the country’s earliest decades, particularly to White landowners. Slave labor cultivated cash crops and built fortunes. An entire swath of the Southeast became known as the Black Belt for the land’s fertile hue.

Today that soil is an environmental liability, and one borne by the area’s disproportionately poor and mostly Black residents. The earth is too dense and moist for conventional septic tanks. Specialized treatment systems necessary for proper sanitation are expensive. Raw sewage pools in people’s yards and seeps into gardens.