Environmental justice is a movement that tries to prevent discrimination of certain communities in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations. Everyone benefits from a cleaner environment; however, certain communities shoulder the burden of its costs much more than other groups of people. Environmental justice seeks to empower these communities to publicly participate in the administration process of environmental laws.
What Are Real World Examples of Environmental Justice Actions?
Environmental justice is often portrayed as an environmental "civil rights movement." The environmental justice movement tackles many different issues, such as:
- Toxic plants and landfills – these heavy polluters are often located near minority and poor communities. The land around these sites is cheap, and many minority communities are located in such areas because of the low rent. These communities are heavily burdened with environmental costs (e.g., smell, health problems). Other communities reap the benefits while being free from the pollution.
- Zoning laws – Local governments often "zone" their land such that heavy polluters can only build their plants next to certain communities. This is an example of the discrimination that environmental justice seeks to prevent.
- Transportation – Some laws require trucks and heavy vehicles to drive along certain routes. This causes high levels of pollution in certain communities.
What Should I Do If I Am a Victim of Environmental Injustice?
If you believe that your community is suffering from environmental injustice, contact an environmental attorney to learn more about possible legal remedies. Environmental justice lawyers often will fight good causes for free. Even if you don’t want to start a lawsuit, an environmental justice attorney can inform you of other options.