A Brief History of Environmental Justice


Nationally the facilities where we dump
our garbage and process dangerous chemicals tend to be located in poor and minority communities. The people who live there have little or no protection from the industries around them. And things could get worse. So, there’s this idea of environmental justice. It’s pretty simple: Communities shouldn’t be forced to deal with more pollution because they belong to a certain race, national origin or income bracket. Yet, America has struggled over the years to implement any serious policy that actually protects these communities. So, let’s lay out the ways
the government has failed them. “We will not allow Warren County to become a dump site.” The fight for environmental justice took off in 1982 when residents of Warren County, North Carolina mounted mass demonstrations against a plan to dump contaminated soil in a landfill in their community. The EPA investigated four similar landfills in southern states and found that they were all located in
black or low-income neighborhoods. In 1987, the United Church of Christ Racial Justice Commission found that around the country, hazardous waste facilities were more likely to be located in mostly minority communities. Amid mounting proof, the federal government was forced to act. So, in 1992 President George H.W. Bush founded the Office of Environmental Justice inside
the EPA. Two years later, President Bill Clinton signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to consider environmental justice in all of their policies, as well as extending civil rights protection to environmental discrimination. But Congress never passed a bill to make Clinton’s executive order law. Then came George W. Bush. His administration shifted the focus of the Office of Environmental Justice from protecting low-income and minority
communities to “all people,” Leaving vulnerable populations without a federal environmental advocate. “80% of New Orleans, including much of downtown, is under water.” Under Bush, many environmental civil rights claims were rejected or delayed for years. In 2009, after President Barack
Obama’s election, his administration recommitted to environmental justice. Generally speaking, in this country a lot of environmentally problematic facilities tend to be located in places where poor folks live. Yet, during the two years Democrats controlled the House, the Senate and the White House they didn’t file a single bill focused on strengthening environmental justice
protections. Passing major environmental legislation faded further when Republicans took control of Congress in the 2010 midterm elections. Now, President Donald J. Trump is making good on his vow to weaken the EPA. “Environmental protection, what they do is a disgrace.” “Every week they come out with new
regulations.” “Who’s going to protect the environment?” “We’ll be fine with the environment.” “We can leave a little bit.” This budget–a 31% cut to the EPA, $2.6 billion cut away from the EPA, that’s what the president wants. As the EPA loses funding and regulations are rolled back, vulnerable communities may
very likely fall through the cracks. I’m Talia Buford. I’ll be covering these
communities and digging into systemic environmental injustice. If you have something to tell me, email me at [email protected]

Comments 11

  • Hi how are you?

  • Well, RIP USA. However, they wanted it like that. They voted for a horrifying liar. Furthermore, they are too retarded to even see his lies. How so is beyond me considering that yesterday trump said that and tomorrow he says something else. Or he just insults anyone altogether and throws everything over he said before.

    Good work America.

  • Recently spent my birthday gifts on donations to ProPublica and the National Resource Defense Council. Best use of a birthday yet…

  • I greatly appreciate this video. Would you mind if I included this in a presentation for undergraduate students?

  • I'm sorry to say that this video has faulty information. Seems she didn't do her homework on the beginning of the Environmental movement. First, the movement began in the late 1960's – early 1970's. I've been an avid environmentalist for 50 yrs. It played right along side being against the Vietnam War & the continued civil rights movement. In April, 1972, the 1st EARTH DAY was established. I lead one of the teams to begin cleaning the Willamette River in Eugene, Oregon. Throughout my college years I fought for lands of old growth trees not to be clear cut. Was arrested for chaining myself to trees.(Yes, a "tree hugger" 🙂 We won many fights during that time. Oregon was the leader in setting laws against littering, removing billboards along freeways, saving waterways from pollution, setting laws against clear-cutting and fighting local large corporations: timber plants, chemical plants, cities, etc for clean water & soil and making laws & standards to lower air pollution. We identified "Superfund Sites" that were filled with radiation and poisonous chemical drums & in the earth. Oregon still has 2 — the Half-Life of this radiation product is 100 yrs. We made rules of inspections for all gas stations for leaks into the soil. Removal of tanks from contamination was remarkable in the State of Oregon. Oregon was the nations leader in legislation against environmental issues through a then small local non-profit called Greenpeace-the rest of the nation began to follow suit. To give credit, the presenter may be giving an accurate account of environmental fights for that particular area – but she is incorrect on the beginning of the movement. Hope this inspires some to do further research on the subject. 🙂

  • @Cyn Moir – Environmental justice & Environmentalism are two separate movements. I encourage you to read 'Environmental Justice and Environmentalism, The Social Justice Challenge to the Environmental Movement' edited by RONALD SANDLER and PHAEDRA C. PEZZULLO to catch up with more current thinking. I admire the work you did and still do, but you're misunderstanding the distinctions between the two.

  • "we can leave a little bit" your fucking supid Trump

  • Thanks for posting.  Enjoyed video, very informative.

  • would really wish there to be some references!

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