What Is Environmental Justice?

Vulnerable communities across America pay the highest price for environmental justice issues brought upon by polluters.

The following is a transcript of the video:

Anjali Waikar, staff attorney, NRDC Environmental Justice Program: Environmental justice really reflects the fundamental reality that vulnerable communities are all too often subject to the disproportionate burden of pollution and contamination.

At the end of the day, when we're talking about environmental impacts, at the heart of it are real people's lives.

And if you think about one child who's in her home that maybe has lead paint on the walls; she's drinking water from the tap that might have lead contamination in it; she plays in a playground that has arsenic in the soil and is developing asthma because of the polluting facilities next door; she goes into her school that has mold inside.

These are real things to happen on an everyday basis. Not everybody has the ability to simply uproot themselves from a community where they've lived for decades, where their families raised them, where they raised their children. People don't have the financial mobility necessarily to simply get up and go.

How do we combat environmental injustice? There are things like litigation, that means continue fighting in the courts, continue fighting to strengthen existing legislation, fighting to ensure that existing legislation is actually being enforced.

Things like community organizing, public education, mobilizing the base, and elevating voices. There's also things like using media as an outlet to get your point across. In today's day and age, especially with this administration, I think there are an enormous amount of hurdles in how to address environmental injustices, but the reality is, we have to keep fighting.

You know, great gains do not occur overnight; they take sometimes decades. I truly believe that environmental justice is the modern-day civil rights issue of our time.

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