Environmental Racism Rising in U.S.

Despite advocacy efforts, even more Hispanics and African-Americans live within two miles of hazardous waste facilities across the U.S.© Elaine Osowski

According to a new report from the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University, environmental racism is getting worse, not better, in the U.S. despite two decades of advocacy and policy improvements. The report, which serves as an update to a landmark 1987 study uncovering the proximity of minority groups to hazardous waste sites across the country, found that an even larger number of Hispanics/Latinos and African-Americans live within two miles of one of more than 400 such facilities in the U.S.

Analysts assumed the situation was improving. After all, hundreds of non-profit and community groups lobbied on behalf of eliminating such environmental racism in the intervening two decades, and a special environmental justice office was created at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The authors of the new study say that their disturbing findings underscore that fighting environmental racism remains an uphill battle. They suggest requiring state "report cards" on environmental justice, increasing private foundations’ funding support of environmental justice groups and establishing community land trusts, which would allow communities to purchase abandoned plots of land at below-market rates and redevelop them.

Source: Environmental Justice Conference