My oh my. We’ve been here so many times before. Where do I begin? In its July 25 Opinion: Assessing Obama’s Record on the Environment, Yale Environment 360 (hereinafter Yale Environment 180 for reasons I hope will become all too obvious) asked “a variety of environmental leaders, writers, and policy experts to answer the following questions: How would you assess President Obama’s record on energy and the environment? And what do you consider his major accomplishments and failures in these fields?”
In May 1999, Friends of the Earth in the UK published research proving for the first time in Britain that low-income areas suffer most from industrial pollution. They called this phenomenon pollution injustice. Their rationale in naming it as such was that environmental justice was a term used in the U.S. for the particular racialized form of injustice found there, and that it would be inappropriate to use the term in Britain when their research found no evidence of racialization, but rather broader socio-economic causes. In fact, they were not looking for a racial signifier but that there was a feeling in Britain, and around the world, that ‘environmental justice’ referred, in an almost proprietary sense, to the well documented toxic overburdening of low income and minority communities in the U.S. More specifically still, it referred to the civil rights- inspired, well organized, networked and unique social movement, the U.S. environmental justice movement that coalesced from countless community actions from Alaska to Alabama and from California to Connecticut, driven by the grassroots activism of African-American, Latino, Asian and Pacific American, Native American and poor white communities.