Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Clinton introduces Environmental Justice Bill to Senate

In July Sen. Hillary Clinton held the first ever senate hearing focused solely on environmental justice. “Far too many Americans with lower incomes or from communities of color do not have equal access to protections that safeguard health, well-being and the potential of children and families,” Clinton said.

At the hearing Clinton also introduced an Environmental Justice Bill. The bill consists of three main parts. The first increases federal accountability with regards to environmental justice issues. The second provides grants to community members. “We want to help build community capacity through a grant program to help communities engage in this kind of local multi-agency work, building on a pilot program initiated under the Clinton Administration,” said Sen. Clinton. The third part of the bill connects communities affected by environmental justice issues to suitable experts.

This bill comes in response to increasing public attention to the issue of “environmental justice,” a concept that arose from looking at the placement of city-owned dumping sites in primarily African-American neighborhoods.

“Some populations are exposed to more environmental risks than others. The populations that are near environmental hazards such as toxic waste are often the poor or people of color,” said Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Sociology Ann-Marie Finan.

Environmental justice began to evolve as political issue in the late 1970s and became widely publicized after North Carolina state officials used Warren County, a poor, primarily African American county, as a dumping site for 30,000 gallons of PCB contaminated soil. The protests surrounding the event first brought environmental racism into the public eye.

Over time two divisions of environmental justice have arisen. Rural environmental justice and the urban environmental justice that Sen. Clinton’s bill deals with. In many inner-city communities residents suffer higher rates of asthma and other sicknesses not only due to increased pollution but also the placement of sewage waste plants and dumping sites in their neighborhoods simply because the land is cheaper than in primarily white, more affluent neighborhoods.

Rural environmental justice deals with a variety of issues from providing minority farmers with the same rights and benefits as their Caucasian counterparts to Native American rights. “The Manoomin Indians support themselves selling wild rice. In California rice that is genetically the same but isn’t wild is sold as ‘wild rice’ threatening the Manoomin’s livelihood,” said Finan.

Clinton’s bill, which deals only with urban environmental justice, provides aid domestically that the U.S. has provided overseas for years. It also has the potential to increase environmental hazards in developing countries as well.

“We already ship much of our toxic waste to developing countries,” said Finan. “Moving that waste out of urban communities could just mean moving it into other communities overseas.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *