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PORTSIDE  April 2011, Week 4

PORTSIDE April 2011, Week 4

Subject:

Earth Day & Environmental Justice

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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Date:

Sat, 23 Apr 2011 14:27:19 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (113 lines)

Celebrating Earth Day with a Commitment to
Environmental Justice

    Communities of Color Face Risks but Show Strong
    Support for Climate Policies

By Alejandro Garcia, Jorge Madrid
Center for American Progress
April 22, 2011

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/04/environmental_justice.html

This week we celebrate Earth Day, an international
campaign for environmental awareness and protection.
While this is a time to celebrate our planet, we are
also reminded of the great environmental risks facing
communities of color and their resilience to protect
both the planet and their communities. We need to
address environmental justice in communities of color
and recognize their valuable contributions toward a
larger climate movement. This should be part of the
policy discussion going forward.

Communities of color face elevated health risks because
they tend to live in areas where they are
disproportionately exposed to high pollution levels.
More than 71 percent of African Americans and 66
percent of Latinos live in areas that fail to meet one
or more of the Environmental Protection Agency's air
quality standards. Low-income minority groups also tend
to be clustered in areas that are particularly
vulnerable to climate change.

These unsafe environments cause crippling health
disparities. The risk of premature death from fine
particle pollution is increased with low socioeconomic
status. A recent report by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention shows that African-American
children have the highest number of asthma attacks
among all ethnic groups, and Latino children are 60
percent more likely to suffer from asthma attacks than
white children. All this is coupled with the fact that
communities of color are the least likely to have
health insurance and access to treatment and preventive
care.

Sadly, this year's Earth Day also shares the week with
the one-year anniversary of the BP oil disaster. One
year has passed and communities of color are still
suffering environmental harm. Consider that 39,448 tons
of oil waste from the BP oil spill (61 percent) is
being dumped into coastal communities highly populated
by people of color even though they make up just 22
percent of the coastal counties.

So in addition to their economic struggles and recovery
challenges from Hurricane Katrina, these communities
are now facing toxic threats that can exacerbate health
disparities.

Amidst these challenges, communities of color show a
strong commitment to reducing harmful pollution and
protecting the planet. Conservatives claim the
enforcement of clean air laws will amount to a loss of
jobs and a "death for business across the country." But
communities of color rejected that argument. A recent
poll conducted by the Joint Center for Political and
Economic Studies demonstrates that the majority of
African-American voters believe the United States
should pass legislation to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions and that clean energy will create more jobs
and combat climate change. A large majority of the
respondents believe everyone can do something to combat
global warming. Similar majorities and views are found
within the Latino and Asian communities as well.

These communities' overwhelming support for the
reduction of pollution and greenhouse gases illustrates
their strong commitment to protecting the environment,
public health, and creating jobs in clean energy.

As we celebrate Earth Day we are reminded of the great
environmental challenges faced by low-income
communities of color and their devotion to a green
economy and society. With more than a billion people
participating in Earth Day activities each year, know
that communities of color will be taking part in the
effort.

Lealo en espanol: http://tinyurl.com/3pmznc3
_____________________

Alejandro Garcia is an intern with Progress 2050 and
Jorge Madrid is a Research Associate at the Center for
American Progress.

___________________________________________

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