What is environmental Justice?
In order to understand Environmental Justice, social injustices must be understood as environmental issues.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Environmental Justice is defined as, "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 and regulations, and policies."
The Environmental Justice Team at the University of California, Riverside, is determined to educate students on the inequalities that demand environmental justice.
We will focus on informing you of environmental injustices in the Inland Empire and Riverside County and how we can combat these issues together.
Environmental Racism is the way people of color, especially black and indigenous communities, are disproportionately affected by pollution, toxic waste, lack of healthy food options, and the climate crisis. The term was coined by Dr. Benjamin Chavis, a black civil rights leader who worked alongside Martin Luther King during the civil rights movement.
What does this look like?
Lower income Black, Indigenous, and other people of color are surrounded by hazardous waste facilities, transportation facilities (airports and train stations), highways that cause pollution, corporate factories, and food deserts.
What are the causes?
These vulnerable communities suffer from health diseases, asthma, obesity, and depression as a result of the contaminated water, polluted air, and unhealthy cheap food options in their areas.
Understanding Environmental Justice.
Breaking it down
Where you live, determines the environmental benefits or risks you are exposed to. If you live in a wealthy and suburban community you are more likely to benefit from greener spaces, a variety of healthy food options, and better environmental laws/regulations. If you live in a more diverse lower-income, urban, or rural community, you oftentimes suffer from environmental burdens. This includes factories, toxic waste, highway pollution, a lack of greener spaces, and healthy food options.
How Environmental Justice came to be
Dr. Robert Bullard, a sociologist and activist, is known as one of the founding fathers of Environmental Justice. He gathered data on landfill dumps in Houston's Black neighborhoods and found that 100% of city-owned landfills were in black neighborhoods. With this evidence, his wife Linda Mckeever Bullard, was able to file the first environmental discrimination lawsuit. In 1990, Bullard released the book, Dumping in Dixie, one of the first texts to explore environmental justice.