Much of the work in addressing environmental injustice focuses on the negative impacts of it and preventing further damage to communities. However, many struggle to understand what causes environmental injustice in the first place. There are many factors to the problem and addressing all of them is the only assured way of coming to a lasting resolution.
Environmental injustice is usually influenced by dominant groups in the country. According to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, many factors contribute to the disparity, including racially-based zoning practices, infrastructure development, and housing segregation. By addressing these problems in a widespread and coordinated way, it is possible to undo many of the problems created so that communities can focus on improving their lives.
Learning More About Environmental Injustice
Environmental injustice is a set of problems created by alienating specific groups and communities, and organizations taking action that hurts the environment around the community. The leading example of this is a company that pollutes local water sources, which contaminates drinking water and leads to health problems within the community.
Environmental injustice is a systemic problem resulting from the alienation and segregation of specific groups within communities. These groups are usually defined along racial, socioeconomic, and similar divisions, and this has been a problem in this country for a long time. Although efforts to overcome environmental injustice continue, it has persisted for decades.
Legal action has been one of the biggest influences in making change. Many of the organizations that benefit from environmental injustice do so because the principles that they operate on are immoral but illegal. Because environmental justice advocates have grown increasingly involved in legal processes, they have been able to promote change on the highest level and force organizations to comply with environmental justice principles. Although large strides in improving the situation have been made, there is still much work to be done.
The Prevalence of Environmental Injustice in the U.S.
There have been many instances of environmental injustice. When people think of environmental injustice, they usually think of large companies destroying the environment which hurts nearby communities. This has been a major problem for centuries as industrialization is made easier for large companies to expand and have a larger impact on the environment. Waste dumping in local rivers and water sources is still a major problem. Some companies either do not realize or do not care that dumping chemicals in nearby water sources can contaminate drinking water and poison many parts of the environment.
In these cases, community members are rarely if ever consulted in the decision-making process. This means that companies can unilaterally make decisions that hurt the environment and the community with little oversight or input from that community. While community members in government positions with higher socioeconomic statuses may be influential in the process, other groups are largely ignored. This creates a disparity between the needs of the community and how they are able to influence decisions that affect their lives.
Causes of Environmental Injustice
Environmental injustice can be influenced by a variety of factors, but it is usually caused by special interest groups alienating other groups within the community. Some of the causes of environmental injustice include:
- Racism/racial discrimination
- Alienating low-income community members
- Failing to represent all groups and government
- Unchecked capitalism
There are other causes not covered on this list. According to the Vermont Law School, poor and minority populations have higher rates of cancer, asthma, mortality, and poor health outcomes. These problems may be attributed to high rates of environmental injustice in these communities.
You Can Take Action
When it comes to environmental justice, you have rights to expect fairness, equal access, and enforcement. In the event that this right is violated, then you have the right to seek legal action or to request that the environmental injustice be corrected. Sometimes this comes in the form of legal action or compensation with the help of an environmental injustice lawyer.
Unlike personal injury cases, the goal of an environmental injustice case is not always to seek compensation. Sometimes this comes in the form of trying to right a wrong. This can be a change in the living or working environment of the people impacted to restore their rights to environmental justice. The outcome often depends on the situation and your specific goals for restitution.
If compensation is what you are after, it is possible for your lawyer to help you seek it. The amount of compensation will depend on the nature of what happened. For example, if the environmental injustice, such as a lack of access to clean drinking water, causes injury, you could potentially receive monetary compensation for your medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering.
Ben Crump Law, PLLC Can Help
No matter the causes of environmental injustice, you are entitled to justice. Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC at (800) 959-1444 for a free case evaluation with a member of our legal team. There is no upfront cost for help. We are here to help you.