Environmental Justice -
Questions and Answers
1) How can environmental
justice and economic development co-exist?
Some say smart growth is
old wine in new bottles since it can be compared to the decades old
urban renewal fad. Smart growth is a
natural response to the environmental, economic, and public health
impacts of sprawl.
increasing number of municipalities look to smart growth to address
their growing pains. While the idea of a smart growth neighborhood
may tickle people's nostalgic fancy, a frequent question is whether
communities can afford the price while balancing livability. Smart
or Quality growth represents frontiers of opportunity for health and
development professionals to responsibly integrate revitalization
into the visions and cultural fabric of all in a community.
brainstorming and individual discussions can gain insight into
issues and expectations as they relate to the community’s values.
The authentic involvement of communities in the land use and
infrastructure planning process should reflect interdependence of
urban planning and public health from outreach that values
2) How can relations
between communities and industry, communities and government, and
government and industry be improved?
is little question that environmental issues can create serious
concerns among community residents decision makers and other
stakeholders in both rural and urban settings.
The leaders of corporations and
federal administrators recognize that integrating the needs of rural
and urban communities into the mission of their facilities where
they conduct operations is inevitable and essential to the
prosperity of all concerned. The key to meeting these challenges
can be in authentic community engagement practices promoting
environmental compliance or supplemental environmental projects that
have benefits for community public health, profitability, and the
3) What are examples of
model environmental justice activities?
OSEEI – Outreach
Strategy for Equity in Environmental Issues in Ohio,
Environmental Action Network, (LEAN)
for Environmental Justice, (DWEJ)
4) Has the Executive
Order improved matters in environmental justice communities?
Absolutely it has,
however when programs lack adequate funding and progress is not
measured, poor outcomes and abysmal impact can result.
5) Are the federal
agencies committed to environmental justice?
The concerns of Harry
Alford, President of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC)
certainly bring this into question. Alford believes that
environmental justice legislation in Congress will erode civil
rights enforcement by shifting the focus from the Justice Department
to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA is a regulatory agency, while
DOJ enforces the law. Since EJ within EPA has been historically
funding like the proverbial step-child, Alford’s concerns are well
founded. If the legislation introduced by Representative Hilda Solis
1103) and by
Senators Dick Durbin (S.
642) and Hillary Clinton
2549) passes, civil
rights protection in DOJ will be eroded.
6) Are businesses and
industries committed to environmental justice?
The most visible example
of industry and business action in support of EJ is Responsible
Care®. Responsible Care® is the chemical industry’s global voluntary
initiative under which companies, through their national
associations, work together to continuously improve their health,
safety and environmental performance. This voluntary program puts
chemistry at work in a good way and helps the industry to operate
safely, profitably and with care for future generations.