Environmental Racism & Environmental Elitism in the US

Updated: Apr 15

What is Environmental Racism?

Environmental racism is often synonymous with environmental justice.

According to the EPA, Environmental justice is the "fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies."

When everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work, that is when Environmental Justice will finally be achieved.

Environmental Discrimination

Placement of harmful factories, waste management and high pollution sites tend to be located in minority-dominated areas. In these situations, most people often don't have the means to fight back against big corporations.

Racism and discrimination against minorities center on a socially-dominant group's belief in its superiority, often resulting in privilege for the dominant group and the mistreatment of non-dominant minorities. This can result in environmental discrimination on a civil level.

Among the affected groups of Environmental justice, those in high poverty and racial minority groups tend to receive the brunt of the harm of environmental justice. Poor people account for 20% of the human health impacts for toxic air released.