Author: Louis

Environmental Justice and Social Justice

Environmental Justice and Social Justice

Monterey Bay desalination project is approved despite environmental injustice concerns by California Governor and US Senator

Environmental justice is the right to live free from environmental dangers due to structural or other inequitable discrimination. According to the Environmental Justice Web (2010), environmental justice is the concept of environmental equity, which describes how individuals or communities may differ in their access to clean air and water, healthy food, and equal enjoyment of cultural activities.

In the context of desalination projects the concept of environmental justice is usually understood as the “failings or injustices faced by one subgroup of citizens in the context of environmental problems or projects that disproportionately affect another subgroup.”

According to the National Resources Defense Council, the federal government is responsible for “over two thirds of the nation’s freshwater withdrawals.” The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for regulation of the nation’s water resources, in which, for example, groundwater is regulated by both the EPA and state and municipal authorities within their jurisdiction. The EPA regulates those substances that can be used in “point source” dischargers, while other substances are regulated by specific state authorities.

The American Water Works Association is another resource for understanding environmental justice. The Association has been actively involved in desal and wastewater treatment projects over the course of this century (2010), and this is evidenced by its founding in 1929 and current membership with approximately 2200 members and affiliates throughout North America, and a significant presence in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Europe.

As of 2010, the number of California community members and organizations advocating for environmental justice are approximately 7,500, with a national total exceeding 80,000 members and affiliates (2010). This represents approximately 5.75 percent of households.

The environmental justice concept is often misunderstood. Most people, including environmental justice advocates, are convinced that environmental justice is about social justice and environmental racism. While environmental racism is an important issue, it is not, as often misunderstood, the cause of environmental injustice. Social justice and environmental justice are two separate concepts which share the same basic philosophy of environmental justice.

Environmental justice means social justice and environmental justice

The key concepts of social justice are fairness and equity, and they cannot be separated. People need to have a fair chance in life. People need to be able to live free from environmental and

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