Sept. 21, 2020 by Rebecca Bratspies

Environmental Justice Is Not Un-American

Recently, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler spoke to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the EPA's founding. He used the opportunity to reiterate the agency's commitment to its “straightforward” mission to “protect human health and the environment.” He also emphasized that the agency’s mission meant “ensuring that all Americans – regardless of their zip code – have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean land to live, work, and play upon.”

Why did Wheeler refer to zip code? Because decades of research have documented that pollution, and its adverse health effects, are not spread equally across the country. Instead, polluting industry tends to be concentrated in certain zip codes that, due to a history of racist redlining and housing discrimination, are predominantly the home of Black and Brown Americans.

The groundbreaking 1987 study Toxic Waste and Race in the United States first documented that race is the most significant predictor of living near a toxic facility. Over the ensuing three decades, evidence for this connection between America’s racial geography and pollution has grown even stronger. Indeed, EPA’s own researchers recently documented that race, rather than poverty is the strongest predictor for pollution exposure …

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Sept. 21, 2020

Environmental Justice Is Not Un-American