Welcome! In this bulletin, we will be discussing the topic of Environmental Justice. You’ll be able to find sections including definitions involving environmental justice, history, videos, articles/handouts, statistics, and questions to ponder.
Environmental Justice: Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
Environmental Racism: Whether, by conscious design or institutional neglect, actions and decisions that result in the disproportionate exposure of people of color to environmental hazards and environmental health burdens.
In 1983, the U.S. General Accounting Office conducted a study that found three out of four of the off-site commercial hazard waste landfills in Region 4 (South) were in predominantly African American communities. This number was shocking, considering that African Americans made up only 20% of the regional population at the time. Later, in 1987, the newly-formed Commission for Racial Justice found that race was the strongest variable in predicting the location of waste facilities (Bullard & Johnson,2000). The Environmental Justice movement was born at the nexus of the Civil Rights' and Environmental movements, and has grown in power and influence since then.
In October of 1991, the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit developed a document of Environmental Justice Principles, that have helped to describe and define the Environmental Justice movement in the United States. The US EPA has changed its approach to Environmental Justice over time, and currently fails to recognize race as a unique indicator in Environmental Justice assessments.
TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch - Van Jones - Environmental Justice
Color by Number - Environmental Justice
- A case study of The Bronx, New York, found that individuals who live close to noxious industrial facilities and waste sites were 66% more likely to be hospitalized for asthma. Significantly, these same individuals were 13% more likely to be people of color.
- A report titled “Toxic Waste and Race at Twenty” reviewed data collected over a 20-year time period and found that more than half of the people who live within 1.86 miles of toxic waste facilities in the United States are people of color.
- A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that 11.2% of African American children and 4% of Mexican-American children are poisoned by lead, compared with 2.3% of white children.
- Three out of five African Americans live in communities with uncontrolled toxic waste sites.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
- How do Race and Poverty intersect in terms of environmental injustices?
- How does environmental injustice impact the health and wellbeing of low-income communities of color?