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It may have just gotten harder to protect minority communities from pollution

1 min read

Writing for Stateline, Alex Brown reports that in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision striking down race-conscious college admissions policies, state lawmakers are facing a new conundrum. Can we remedy environmental racism without mentioning race?

In a nutshell:

Legal experts fear that this ruling could lead to lawsuits challenging similar race-conscious policies aimed at addressing environmental justice issues. Lawmakers are now considering alternatives, such as focusing on health conditions or using proxies to address historical disparities while avoiding direct reference to race. Despite the legal uncertainty, advocates stress the importance of not shying away from addressing environmental racism and pursuing policies that prioritize the well-being of marginalized communities.

Key quote:

“We want to acknowledge the harms we have done as a state with our environmental laws, with permitting, with waste and pollution, and reduce the harms to communities that have been impacted more, which are historically communities of color,” said Minnesota state Rep. Fue Lee.

The big picture:

Communities of color often experience higher levels of air and water pollution along with reduced access to green spaces. Such environmental disparities contribute to significant health disparities, including higher rates of asthma, heart conditions, and other respiratory illnesses. The proximity of highways, refineries, fossil fuel plants, and waste dumps in these areas can exacerbate health issues, and studies have shown that these cumulative impacts disproportionately affect minority communities, highlighting the urgent need for equitable environmental policies to address these health concerns.

Read the article at Stateline.

For additional context, read Ans Irfan's piece for EHN arguing that the radical reversal of social equity scaffolding poses a monumental challenge for environmental and climate justice.

About the author(s):

EHN Staff

Articles written and posted by staff at Environmental Health News

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