Environmental justice sets out to remove any environmental disparities and inequalities that currently exist between minority communities and others. Everyone should enjoy the advantages of their environment in equal measure, as well as endure the disadvantages of environmental issues together. Unfortunately, to date, we have not achieved this. Too many minorities and communities of color are still suffering the majority of the detrimental effects of environmental injustice and racism.
How does Environmental Justice Help Our Communities?
Environmental justice aims to give every American the right to live in a clean, healthy, and safe environment. Problems that environmental justice helps solve include, for example:
- Fair treatment of all, regardless of color, race, or socioeconomic status.
- Adequate access to healthy food.
- Ensuring clean water and air in all communities.
- Adequate transport infrastructure for all communities.
- Enforcing laws and regulations dealing with pollution equally in all communities.
Environmental justice wants to address inequalities and change the fact that black and minority communities have to carry the burden of environmental problems and dangers disproportionately.
Unfortunately, achieving real and lasting change in this matter can seem more like running a marathon rather than a short sprint. Much work remains, and disadvantaged communities still do not always have access to clean air and water. According to the American Lung Association, those who are socio-economically disadvantaged and some racial and ethnic groups are the people who face higher exposure to pollutants as well as the adverse health effects from such pollutants.
If you are facing environmental racism and injustice in your community or neighborhood and suffered harm or injury, you could potentially hold a negligent party to account. Speaking to an environmental justice lawyer can help you find out whether you could pursue justice and compensation through litigation or other ways.
The Dire Consequences of Environmental Injustice
Environmental justice now tries to solve the types of problems that were created by environmental injustice and racism over many decades. Living next to a toxic waste facility, or an industrial facility processing toxic chemicals, for example, can be extremely unpleasant.
Those living close to such sites may not be able to open their windows or use their gardens and yards for long periods due to unpleasant smells and toxic fumes. They may also be suffering from many more adverse effects of environmental injustice, such as aggravation of existing medical conditions or developing new conditions due to environmental pollution in their air or drinking water.
The Flint Water Crisis
The Flint water crisis is a well-known and much-publicized case of environmental injustice that led to medical conditions and deaths in the city and may be a result of systemic racism. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the majority of Flint’s population is black, and 45 percent of its population is below the poverty line.
Flint’s water was extremely polluted not only with a high lead concentration but also pathogens. An outbreak of Legionnaires disease killed 12 people in 2014, and approximately 9,000 children in the city consumed lead-poisoned water for 18 months. Lead exposure in children can cause detrimental health effects not only in the short term but throughout their entire lives. To this day, Flint residents are still getting their drinking water through lead pipes.
From the early 1950s to the mid-1980s, marines stationed at Camp Lejeune used highly-toxic water to drink, bathe, and cook. The EPA was reportedly aware of the water’s toxicity as early as 1970 calling Camp Lejeune a major polluter, though camp regulations warned against dumping toxic chemicals into the area’s water.
For the next decade, camp authorities would continue to neglect the health of marines even with all the evidence at their disposal that the water supply was poisoning their service members. This heinous neglect has cost thousands of marines their health and many more their lives.
Thanks to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, our veterans now have the opportunity to demand justice with the help of an environmental justice lawyer. No amount of money could bring back the health and future of our military service members, but it may help to mitigate the consequences of the government’s neglect.
Environmental Injustice Kills
Unfortunately, what happened in Flint is not an isolated incident. Every year, Americans in minority and poor communities die as a result of environmental injustice and pollution of their neighborhoods. An estimated 196,930 Americans lost their lives due to pollution in 2017. However, the real number may be much higher, since it can be difficult to assess the real number of deaths attributable to pollution, according to the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP).
Taking Steps Towards Justice
We all have a voice when it comes to environmental injustice, and we must speak out against it. The government is also taking steps toward environmental justice in our society as a whole.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), for example, is one agency that has laid out a strategy for ensuring environmental justice in future decades. The strategy includes:
- Developing better environmental policies and laws
- Education and training of community representatives in vulnerable communities
- Offering health services for those impacted by diseases caused by pollution
- Collecting data and analyzing the effects of pollution on communities
- Interagency coordination between government and vulnerable minority groups
However, it is up to you and all of us to fight environmental injustice when we come across it. We have the responsibility to help those most vulnerable, such as the children in minority and black communities, experience a healthier and more environmentally just America in the future.
We Want to Help
We vow to fight environmental justice issues with as much passion as social injustice. Environmental injustice is wrong, unfair, and immoral. We have to address and change the fact that black and minority communities are still today carrying the burden of environmental hazards to such a high and unjust degree.
If you are the victim of social injustice, we could potentially help you hold those responsible to account. Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC today for a free, no-obligation consultation: (800) 595-2555.