The Environmental Justice Movement
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Today, and Tomorrow
Many grassroots environmental justice organizations have formed since the dump trucks rolled into Afton, North Carolina, more than 20 years ago. Today, many of these groups have become strong and permanent forces for environmental protection and social change in their communities:
- Concerned Citizens of South Central (Los Angeles), a housing and community development corporation that helped to lead the fight against the now infamous ANSWERS incinerator in the late 1980s, provides leadership on environmental issues and a range of other social justice issues.
- West Harlem Environmental Action was created in 1998 to fight the siting of the North River Sewage Treatment Plant, and has gone on to spearhead action on many other environmental problems in New York City and New York State.
- Through the Louisiana Avatar project under the coordination of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, rural parish communities in Louisiana's Cancer Alley have made major strides in publicizing, researching and intervening in hundreds of environmental actions to protect communities from further degradation and harm.
- Mothers of East L.A., originally organized to stop the siting of a prison in the East Los Angeles community, turned its attention to opposing a hazardous waste incinerator and has subsequently taken on other local environmental and social issues.
Traditional environmental groups have also formed partnerships to support environmental justice organizations in many of their struggles. Groups such as NRDC often provide environmental justice organizations with technical advice and resources, supply expert testimony at hearings and join in litigation. These partnerships are ongoing success stories in many parts of the country.
Environmental justice continues to be an important part of the struggle to improve and maintain a clean and healthful environment, especially for those who have traditionally lived, worked and played closest to the sources of pollution.
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- Hidden Danger
- A large percentage of U.S. Latinos live and work in urban and agricultural areas where they face heightened danger of exposure to air pollution, unsafe drinking water, pesticides, and lead and mercury contamination.
- Asthma and Air Pollution
- Bad air can bring on asthma attacks; tracking air quality and controlling pollution from cars, factories and power plants can help.