The EPA defines “Environmental Justice” as:
“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. This goal will be achieved 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.”
Despite EPA’s goal, some Hoosier communities bear a much heavier pollution burden than others and those inequalities tend to track with economic and racial inequities, and are at the heart of the concept of “environmental injustice.”
How to Make a Difference
There are no easy answers to addressing the root causes of environmental injustice which are complex and systemic. However, any solution must involve leveling the playing field for disadvantaged and overburdened communities in environmental, zoning and land use decision-making. HEC has identified three main strategies for doing that in Lake and Marion Counties and we could use your help:
Support HEC's Legal and Technical Assistance Services in Low Income Communities
Hiring an environmental attorney or expert is extremely costly and out-of-reach for low-income people who most need expert help to address pollution burdens in their communities. This lack of affordable access leads to a power imbalance where industry interests are fully represented by lawyers and environmental consultants at all levels of government decision-making, while the interests of people who have to live with the pollution burdens resulting from those decisions are not. HEC’s Legal & Technical Assistance Program was launched to address this power imbalance by providing pro bono and low cost legal services on a sliding-scale fee based on a potential client’s ability to pay and other factors. Please donate to HEC so that we can continue to provide these critically needed services.
Take a Pledge
Your actions are connected to the water serving all Hoosiers. Take a Clear Choices Clean Water Pledge to make a difference for water quality and for water conservation. If you’re unsure of what to do, Clear Choices Clean Water makes small, attainable suggestions that can have a big impact.
Identify a community in need and dig in! Volunteer to plant trees, pick up litter, participate in a beautification project, build a playground…ask what is needed. Do something to show others that the quality of life of all Hoosiers is important to you.