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Vibrant Environment

Environmental Justice Faces Fresh Obstacles

Forest
By Scott Fulton, President, Environmental Law Institute
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

As the country wrestles with racial justice issues, driven both by police atrocities and the uneven distribution of COVID-19 infection and deaths, it’s time for renewed focus on environmental justice. The quest for EJ remains perhaps the most challenging unsolved problem in the environmental arena. And until we arrive at a place where environmental benefits and burdens are both more equally distributed across society, EJ will remain a problem that differentially compromises not only quality of life, but also health and resilience in the face of maladies like the coronavirus.

What Did CEQ Do?

White House
By James M. McElfish, Jr., Senior Attorney; Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program
Monday, September 14, 2020

Acting in response to Executive Order No. 13807, Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) rewrote the governmentwide regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) this year. CEQ published its proposal to substantially amend the NEPA rule on January 10, 2020, and published its final rule on July 16, 2020 (85 Fed. Reg. 43304). The new rule becomes effective today, September 14, 2020, and CEQ added language to the final rule to provide that it will apply directly to federal agency actions and preempt all “inconsistent” agency procedures as of that date.

COVID-19 Reveals Environmental Justice Gaps in National Environmental Policy

Air quality
By Ananya Bhattacharya, Research and Publications Intern, ELI
Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Numerous studies have shown that Black and Latinx communities in the United States face higher hospitalization and mortality rates from COVID-19 and are disproportionately harmed by the virus. While many cite comorbidities and underlying health issues as the reasons for this disparity, the root of this problem is systemic racism. Recent research has found that social determinants like access to healthcare, employment, and clean air and water are the true inequities that have made COVID-19 deadliest for communities of color.

We Have What We Need to Address Climate Change Equitably

By Lovinia Reynolds , Policy Analyst and Environmental Justice Coordinator
Wednesday, July 29, 2020

We have the solutions we need to build an equitable and just climate resilient future. Over the past year, coalitions of frontline environmental groups, labor organizations, tribal groups, and other mission-driven organizations in the United States have developed and published comprehensive policy platforms to address the climate crisis. These platforms outline federal, local, and state policy for building resilience and transitioning to renewable and regenerative economies.

No Trespassing: The U.S. Environmental Movement’s Long History of Exclusion

road closed
By Dominic Scicchitano, Research Associate
Monday, July 27, 2020

In recent years, scholars, journalists, and activists have drawn attention to the sexist, racist, classist, and homophobic attitudes that surround the U.S. environmental movement. Though the movement’s problematic aspects may come as a surprise to some, the exclusionary nature of mainstream contemporary environmentalism is no accident. The crusade to address the nation’s environmental issues was designed this way from the outset.

And You Can't Get Out of the Game

Earth basketball
By Stephen R. Dujack, Editor, The Environmental Forum®
Wednesday, July 15, 2020

When I was a philosophy student at Princeton in the 1970s, our department was rated number one nationally because of its stars in analytic theory. But the hottest department was Harvard’s, where two professors who were office neighbors held opposing viewpoints on social philosophy and wrote bestsellers — an anomaly for such scholarly works.

Public Participation at a Distance: Engaging in Gulf Restoration Processes During the Pandemic

laptop
By Stephanie Oehler, Public Interest Law Fellow
Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Public meetings are a fundamental component of many policymaking and planning processes, including the natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) process that aims to restore the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and the permitting and environmental review procedures for individual projects.

An Ongoing Battle: Fighting the Impacts of Uranium Mining in Southwestern Indigenous Communities

By Siena Fouse, Intern, Research and Publications
Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Indigenous communities in the Southwestern United States have been battling the impacts of uranium mining since the early 1940s. The geology of the Colorado Plateau was found to be rich in the radioactive mineral and drew mining to the area. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sought uranium to develop nuclear weapons during the Cold War, which fueled the interest of mining companies that opened uranium mines and mills on and around indigenous land.

Mapping Inequity

By Siena Fouse, Intern, Research and Publications, and Lovinia Reynolds , Policy Analyst and Environmental Justice Coordinator
Wednesday, June 10, 2020

To address environmental inequity, we first need to understand where inequity exists geographically. Maps help model our reality and are a useful tool for locating and addressing environmental inequity. The power of maps in environmental justice was first revealed in 1987 in Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States, published by the Commission on Racial Justice.

Disparity, Disease, and Drinking Water: COVID-19 and Safe Drinking Water Access in Indian Country

Monument Valley
By Cynthia R. Harris, Staff Attorney; Director of Tribal Programs; Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs
Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Pandemics are global in nature, but their impacts are anything but uniform. COVID-19 is exposing substantial inequities, including disproportionate health and economic consequences for minorities. From medical care to broadband, different demographics have vastly different access to critical resources in a widespread crisis. Indian country is especially hard hit by coronavirus. It is the locus where matters of public health, Indigenous sovereignty, and environmental justice collide. Access to clean, safe, and affordable water offers a particularly stark example. Without water, even following the common sense admonition to frequently wash one’s hands becomes an insurmountable challenge.

All blog posts are the opinion of its author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of ELI the organization or its members.