August 16, 2022

Five Ways Environmental Justice for All Has Empowered Frontline Communities and Helped Resolve Environmental Injustices for Decades

Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, drink clean water and live without fear of contamination with toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, this It’s not real for the millions of people living with the disproportionately high effects of hazardous pollution. From the ports of Long Beach, California, and Newark, New Jersey, to the Cancer Alley communities in Louisiana and Native lands in the Americas, polluting industries continue to poison the air, water, and lands of communities of color and low-income communities. while facing very few, if any, consequences.

Community leaders have spent decades with these industries to hold them accountable, and much of their work has resulted in an inclusive, ambitious, and community-focused piece of legislation. Recently Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva and Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All, A groundbreaking environmental justice bill that represents the federal government’s most important effort to address environmental injustices and hold polluting industries accountable.

So what’s in the bill, and how will it help fix decades of environmental racism while empowering frontline communities? Here are five quick facts about it Environmental Justice for All Act:

  1. It was created by and for humans. Representatives Grijalva and McEachin drafted the bill in a truly inclusive partnership through a unique legislative process that seeks feedback and advice from those most affected by pollution. They recognized that any legislation should be based on the needs of communities living with the consequences of pollution. Rather than being the product of high-level political bargaining, the bill reflects the voices and lived experiences of the communities most affected by environmental injustices.
  2. It reflects and addresses how communities experience toxic pollution, requiring cumulative impact analysis. Our national pollution control system is fundamentally unfair in the way it regulates pollutants and sources of pollution. It often neglects the fact that frontline communities are faced with the simultaneous historical, continuous and interactive addition of many pollutants, multiple sources, and various socio-economic factors. Correct and fair regulation of pollution is done by addressing the cumulative nature of the effects caused by pollution and establishing thresholds to stop further damage. The bill mandates meaningful cumulative impact analysis, and the bill allows federal agencies to deny permits if a project poses a significant risk of harm or death.
  3. It treats environmental justice as a civil rights issue.. Historically, communities of color and low income have carried more environmental burdens than communities of more affluent or white. When building new infrastructure, it is imperative that we address disproportionate impacts. The bill forces institutions to scrutinize and address the disproportionate burdens – intentionally or not – on communities of color and low-income using existing legal frameworks that give communities the right to weigh in on projects built in their neighbourhoods. The bill would expand agencies’ ability to address the decades-old problem of racial and income-based inequality in the deterioration of environmental health.
  4. Reinvests in environmental justice communities. Many environmental justice societies can rely on industries that poison their own communities for jobs and local economic growth. The bill creates the Federal Energy Transition Economic Development Assistance Fund, which is paid for with new fees in the fossil fuel industries. The Fund will invest in environmental justice communities so that communities that depend on pollutants for employment can transition to cleaner and more economically sound options. Communities should never have to choose between well-paid jobs and a healthy environment.
  5. It invests in science. The bill will provide grant funding to support the research and development of programs and projects aimed at addressing long-term environmental and public health issues in environmental justice communities. By better understanding the long- and short-term impacts of polluting industries, we can continue to create polluting policies. Environmental Justice for All and ensuring that all communities have the clean air, water and land they deserve.

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