Essay on heroes of the environment

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The PCB-landfill decision became the shot heard around the world. In , it became the catalyst for mass mobilization against environmental injustice. Chavis, Jr. This marked the first time any Americans had been jailed protesting the placement of a waste facility. Environmental racism refers to environmental any policy, practice, or directive that negatively affects whether intended or unintended individuals, groups, or communities based on race or color. Environmental racism is a form of environmental injustice.

It is reinforced by government, legal, economic, political, and military institutions. Environmental racism combines with public policies and industry practices to provide benefits for whites while shifting costs to people of color see Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices from the Grassroots , for case studies.


The demonstrators were unsuccessful in blocking the PCB landfill. Nevertheless, they brought national attention to the way African American and other communities of color have been treated.

They also galvanized African American church leaders, civil rights organizers, and grassroots activists around environmental issues in communities of color. The widely-quoted study documented that three out of five African Americans live in communities with abandoned toxic waste sites; sixty percent of Africans 15 million live in communities with one or more waste sites; and three of the five largest commercial hazardous waste landfills are located in predominately African American or Latino communities and account for 40 percent of the nation's total hazardous waste landfill capacity in The publication of Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality in the 3rd edition was published in gave the nation a firsthand account of environmental justice struggles in rural, urban, and suburban African American communities in the South—a region where over one half of all blacks live.

The book examined municipal landfill disputes in Houston, a lead smelter in West Dallas Texas , a hazardous waste incinerator in Alsen Louisiana , a hazardous waste landfill in Emelle Alabama , and a chemical plant in Institute West Virginia.

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African American community leaders shattered the myth that people of color are not concerned about or involved in environmental issues. All across the southern United States and other regions of the nation, grassroots community resistance emerged in response to practices, policies, and conditions that residents judged to be unjust, unfair, and illegal.

For many communities of color, the environmental protection apparatus was broken and in need of fixing. Similarly, federal and state environmental protection agencies were seen as managing, regulating, and distributing risks—instead of protecting public health and the environment in low income and people of color communities.

Rebecca Solnit: When the Hero is the Problem | Literary Hub

The four-day Summit broadened the environmental justice movement beyond its early anti-toxics focus to include issues of public health, worker safety, land use, transportation, housing, resource allocation, and community empowerment. The meeting organized by and for people of color, demonstrated that it is possible to build a multi-racial grassroots movement around environmental and economic justice. Well over grassroots and national leaders attended the Summit. People attended the Summit to share their stories, redefine the environmental movement, and develop common plans for addressing environmental problems affecting people of color in the United States and around the world.

Delegates left the Summit energized and committed to building a national movement. By June , Spanish and Portuguese translations of the principles were being used and circulated by groups at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

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The publication of the People of Color Environmental Groups Directory first published in and updated in and further illustrated that environmental justice groups are networking across North America. It also lists groups working on a range of issues--including, pollution prevention, clean production, military toxics, affordable housing, sustainable development, sustainable agriculture, food safety, transportation, air pollution, energy, global warming, land use reform, land rights and sovereignty, and worker safety, and childhood asthma, and lead poisoning.

Getting government to respond to environmental justice problems in communities of color has not been easy. Government has been slow to ask the questions of who gets help and who does not, who can afford help and who can not, why some contaminated communities get studied while other get left off the research agenda, why industry poisons some communities and not others, why some toxic dumps get cleaned up while others are not, and why some populations are protected and other are not protected.

As a result of prodding from environmental justice leaders, activists, and a few academicians, some positive first steps were taken in the early s. The meeting focused primarily on environmental contamination in communities of color. In , after meeting with community leaders, academicians, and civil rights leaders, the U. The U. EPA produced one of the first comprehensive documents to examine the whole question of risk, environmental hazards, and their equity report , Environmental Equity: Reducing Risks for All Communities The NEJAC was comprised of stakeholders representing grassroots community groups, environmental groups, nongovernmental organizations, state, local, and tribal governments, academia, and industry.

Executive Order reinforces Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of , which prohibits discriminatory practices in programs receiving federal funds. The Order also focuses the spotlight back on the National Environmental Policy Act NEPA , a law that set policy goals for the protection, maintenance, and enhancement of the environment. NEPA's goal is to ensure for all Americans a safe, healthful, productive, and aesthetically and culturally pleasing environment. The Executive Order calls for improved methods for measuring, reducing, and avoiding impacts, health effect from multiple and cumulative exposure, collection of data on low-income and minority populations who may be disproportionately at risk.

This is not a small point since not all Americans get their fish at the supermarket. Some Americans subsidize their budgets and their diets by fishing from rivers, streams, and lakes that happen to be polluted. The Order also encourages participation of the impacted populations in the various phases of assessing impacts.

Environmental Activists, Heroes, and Martyrs

Environmental justice networks and grassroots community groups are making their voices heard loud and clear. Grassroots groups are also winning on the ground and in some of the courts. Grassroots groups won important victories in the s. CATE fought for and won relocation from the toxic dump.

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The massive treatment plant covers some eight blocks. The one-of-a-kind in the U. Riverbank State Park has fantastic facilities. The problem is it sits on top of a sewer treatment plant. On May 1, , a three-judge panel of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board issued a final initial decision on the case.

The judges, in a page written decision, also chastised the NRC staff for not addressing the provision called for under Executive Order The court decision was upheld on appeal on April 4, Battle lines were drawn in another famous Louisiana environmental racism case in the late s. Japanese-owned Shintech, Inc.

I feel that the government has a very large part to play in aiming for sustainable development. As voters for the election winner and as taxpayers we expect the government to put into practice such policies as the preservation of green belts, and the protection of national parks, beaches and mountains. We also expect governments to take action against any business or individual who breaks laws set up to protect the environment, or regulations concerning the amount of waste they may produce.

The summit did not achieve that aim, and many believe that the British government was at fault for not giving the other delegates more reason to agree to the new measures. The tiny changes that the few people who are in power make to environmental policies can result in a big difference when translated to the national or even worldwide scale. In the same way a small change for each individual, such as recycling any recyclable goods, can end up making a huge difference when everyone in the country does it.

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If everybody was held accountable for the difference they make to the environment, and we all simply had to leave our environment no better or worse then when we came to it there would not be such a deterioration in standards. Of course this is nearly impossible to do and it is inevitable that some people will care more for the environment than others. However I feel that if more effort could be made by the media to alert people to the way the environment is going then people would be more likely to do their bit.

If people are not reminded of the things going on in their world then they will often try -and succeed -to forget. There is always the worry that the public will become immune to shocking statistics or terrible photos if there is an overkill in the media, and often enough, unless there is a particular crisis going on, the environment is considered old news. The public will probably never get motivated by themselves to do something but everybody does have a share of responsibility to the environment. Share this Post! All rights reserved.

Kylie Garcia.

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