What is environmental justice?

May 29, 2008 at 8:38 pm (PERRO) (, , , , , , , , )

Pilsen and pollution

Image from Flickr by Senor Codo

This is the question posed by Green Daily blogger, Leslie Wolcott.

Wolcott asks: “So what is a fair way to deal with the seemingly inevitable pollution that results from the way we live?”

One American environmental organisation, located in the Pilsen neighbourhood of Chicago, is fighting to create the answer to that question.

Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organisation (PERRO) is a grass roots community formed in 2004, by a group of local residents who wanted to challenge the amount of pollution in the area they live .

The group aims to:
  • raise awareness about the levels of pollution in Pilsen and reduce them
  • promote a clean and healthy environment for all, regardless of race or class
  • encourage residents, businesses, industry and social and religious organisations to communicate, in order to create a healthier community for all to live in
  • achieve this without causing jobs or business to be lost
Concern over pollution levels

Wolcott says: “Pilsen is a middle to low income neighborhood in Chicago, and PERRO began in 2004 when local residents wanted to voice their concerns about the Kramer facility, a local brass and bronze smelting plant located in the area.”

PERRO conducted tests for lead and other toxins in the soil and on surfaces in Pilsen and found very high levels in some samples.

This prompted a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigation into lead levels in and around the H. Kramer facility.


In 2006, the EPA reached an agreement with the H. Kramer and Co. on alleged clean air violations at the company’s brass and bronze manufacturing plant.

Wolcott got to speak with Dorian Breuer, a representative from PERRO, after attending a presentation about coal at the Chicago Green Fest.

Wolcott asked Breuer for his definition of environmental justice and in reply he said:

“How environmental justice works from our perspective at least as a community that lives right in amongst two coal plants in the city of Chicago is…if these 2 coal plants, the largest single sources of pollution in all of Chicago…were located in a different neighborhood–there are other neighborhoods in Chicago, for example one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Chicago is Lincoln Park, which happens to be predominantly white, or Caucasian American– if the coal plant was located in the middle of that neighborhood, we end up wondering, would there be as much difficulty in the community…

Environmental injustice

“Questions like why is it that simply because it is located in a lower income community, in a community of color… is it so difficult to get [these polluted areas and plants that continue to pollute] cleaned up? That’s what we think of as environmental injustice.”

For ways you can help, including making a donation to PERRO or offering your skills, visit their website where there is also information about joining a PERRO committee.

Sources: Green Daily blog by Leslie Wolcott and PERRO

For further environmental news stories visit ENO – www.environmentalnewsonline.com


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Surfrider Foundation’s fight for ocean access in the USA

February 22, 2008 at 8:28 pm (The Surfrider Foundation) (, , , , , , )

The Surfrider Foundation is fighting against a proposed development permit for the Takanassee Beach Club property in Long Branch, New Jersey. The Foundation has launched a petition to try to persuade the NJ DEP to refuse the permit.

If the plans go ahead, public access to the ocean will be restricted by 19 luxury residences with path ways to the beach and 5 public parking spaces. The property previously operated as a private beach club allowing thousands to enjoy the ocean and Lake Takanassee.

John Weber, Surfrider Foundation’s Northeast Regional Manager said: “In short, coastal development is out of control here in New Jersey. We should be pulling away from the coast in the face of sea level rise, not building more condos etc.”

Reasons to fight

The property has historic importance and the Surfrider Foundation would like particular buildings to be saved and turned into some type of museum dedicated to the lifesaving services that once used them.

The development would mean a significant reduction in the number of people able to access the beach.

This site is in between the ocean and a coastal lake and has experienced flooding several times in recent years and the property has been ruled as an erosion hazard area.

The recreational opportunities for local residents and visitors would be reduced and their history lost.

The lake is on the City’s Roster of Open Space Inventory. The development will prevent people accessing the lake to fish in the current way and adversely impact public open space.

The problem

Despite this list of reasons to save the Takanassee Beach Club, Weber remains concerned over the prospect of losing the fight: “…our state Department of Environmental Protection is just too close with developers and their attourneys, so getting these coastal building permits is easier.”

But the fight continues whilst the project is on hold pending environmental review.

The Surfrider Foundation’s Mission Statement

“The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches for all people, through conservation, activism, research and education.”

For more information on the The Surfrider Foundation’s fight to Save Takanassee Beach visit http://www.savetakbeach.com/ . There is also a short documentary on YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8dNH8UOPH8

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10 things you need to know about environmental communities outside of the UK

February 17, 2008 at 7:03 pm (environmental communities) (, , , , , , )

1. California has it’s own Ecological Farming Association known more widely as Eco-Farm. This group is fighting for small-scale sustainable agriculture.

2. An organisation called the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is running a program that will improve the sustainability of small farms in Africa.

3. The Sustainable Communities Network (SCN) website explains a great deal about sustainability in all forms.

4. There is a Washington-based group on FaceBook called Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) made-up of a network of organisations and individuals whose aim is to uproot environmental injustices through action and education.

5. The Otesha Project has announced the routes for the 2008 Otesha Cycling and Performing Tours – a mobile and sustainable community.

6. Non-profit organisations, Global Exchange and Co-op America colaborate to hold Green Festivals aimed at forging a just, sustainable, inclusive economy

7. The Rocky Mountain Sustainable Living Fair in Colorado educates people about sustainable living practices, renewable energy, organic agriculture and much more.

8. “Ionia [ a small village on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska] is a guide and model for fundamental and sustainable change in our approach to mental health, well-being, agriculture, family, community, and environmental awareness.”

9. YondersFarm in Georgia is a “non-profit, non-denominational, intentional community in rural Georgia” who invite people to discover how to live in a green sustainable way.

10. Global Green USA “works with governments, industry, and individuals to create a global value shift toward a sustainable and secure future. Global Green USA is addressing three great challenges facing humanity: climate change, weapons of mass destruction, and the need for clean water.”

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