The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as:
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. 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.
The UUA defines environmental justice as:
UUA 1994 General Resolution: Environmental Justice
The Unitarian-Universalist Association is committed to environmental justice. In 1994, UUA adopted the following resolution:
BECAUSE we affirm justice and compassion in human relations, the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and respect for the interdependent web of all existence; and
BECAUSE we share the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; and
WHEREAS waste and pollution, overconsumption by the world’s affluent few, and the pressures caused by poverty and burgeoning populations are inflicting harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment, and have endangered the future we wish for both humanity and the rest of nature;
WHEREAS the poor, the powerless, the landless, and the disinherited are often compelled to carry the major burdens of waste and pollution without representation in planning and decision-making processes;
WHEREAS the concept of environmental justice links the principles of liberal religion with the values of ecological awareness and racial and class justice;
WHEREAS the Unitarian Universalist Association has adopted separate resolutions on specific economic, political, and environmental issues, it also realizes that environmental justice requires an integrated, holistic approach; and
WHEREAS the Union of Concerned Scientists, the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit (1991), the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (1992), and other assemblies and organizations are seeking to move environmental justice higher on the public policy agenda;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Unitarian Universalist Association shall act and urge its affiliates, member societies, and individual Unitarian Universalists to:
- promote programs for social, economic, and political empowerment so that all people may join together in one struggle for peace, justice, and sustainable development;
- support the development of democratic and ecologically responsible community organizations, labor unions, and business cooperatives;
- develop religious education and community action programs honoring cultural and religious diversity and connecting environmental issues to other social justice concerns;
- set time aside for seasonal celebrations to honor our interdependence and to deepen our commitment to natural and cultural diversity; and
- work with the Unitarian Universalist Seventh Principle Project, the Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community, the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office, and others to implement the recommendations of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Unitarian Universalist Association shall act and encourage its affiliates, member societies, and individual Unitarian Universalists to bear witness to the need for environmental justice by reducing their consumption of the earth’s resources, generating as little waste as possible, recycling, and making a commitment as producers, investors, and consumers to living in an ecologically balanced and responsible manner.
"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. UN Climate Change Chief Patricia Espinosa pointed out that the last 10 years had been the hottest decade in human history. The record rise in temperatures, for example in the Arctic winter and northern Siberia, and dramatic winter weather slamming the traditionally mild southern U.S., were being amplified by the now measurably slowing Gulf Stream in the Atlantic — something that could be irreversible. "It's time for all remaining Parties to step up, fulfill what they promised to do under the Paris Agreement and submit their NDCs as soon as possible," Espinosa said, adding "if this task was urgent before, it's crucial now." Read more here.
In accordance with Innu customs and practices, the Alliance has granted the river nine rights: 1) the right to flow; 2) the right to respect for its cycles; 3) the right for its natural evolution to be protected and preserved; 4) the right to maintain its natural biodiversity; 5) the right to fulfil its essential functions within its ecosystem; 6) the right to maintain its integrity; 7) the right to be safe from pollution; 8) the right to regenerate and be restored; and perhaps most importantly, 9) the right to sue.
Good news! SB 5141-The HEAL Act, made it out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee last Friday! We are thrilled, but with a close 13-12 vote, there is no room for error. We must be methodical in our next steps.
Now, our focus turns to passing the HEAL Act out of the Senate chamber. This means your Senator needs to hear from you today!
With the tragedy in Texas serving as the lastest example, communities of color bear the brunt of the burden borne by environmental disasters. This can lead to medical ailments, the loss of housing and income, and create lasting hardships. It doesn’t have to be this way, and the HEAL Act directs state agency staff to establish meaningful relationships with underserved communities. This will improve the preparation, prevention, and communication work our state does to shield us from environmental threats. It is crucial because we want everyone to be safe when the next wildfire, flood, or heat wave strikes.
Think of the state of our environment as a sick patient and our environmental laws as the doctor meant to provide the cure. Without the HEAL Act, that doctor won’t be able to provide a full diagnosis, prescribe the right medicines, and provide a wellness plan that matches the patient's needs and abilities. We need to HEAL our environment and not let it get any sicker.
We are engaged in a relentless communication effort to ensure the Senate prioritizes the HEAL Act. Stay tuned for additional actions soon!
Thank you so much,
Sameer Ranade Civic Engagement and Policy Manager Sameer@frontandcentered.org (360) 218-4642
“If they’re hearing complaints like, ‘Oh it’s cold in here,’ they’ll be like, ‘It could be worse,’ and turn on fans.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has confirmed again a fundamental truth about the Anthropocene: When disaster strikes, the vulnerable take the hardest punches. Communities of color have suffered much higher rates of infection, hospitalization, and mortality, both because they are disproportionately represented in frontline service positions and because their access to routine healthcare is more limited.
Conversation with Sam Mace of Save Our wild Salmon and Elliott Moffett and Julian Matthews of the Niimipuu/Nez Perce, Feb. 18, 1 pm
Earlier this month, U.S. Representative Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) released a visionary proposal to restore abundant salmon and steelhead to our region and strengthen Northwest communities. Join Backbone Campaign to discuss what this means for wild salmon and the regional economy, in a Conversation with Sam Mace of Save Our wild Salmon and Elliott Moffett and Julian Matthews of the Niimipuu/Nez Perce.
Thursday, Feb. 18th 1pm Pacific / 4pm Eastern RSVP TODAYWe celebrate Representative Simpson's courage. The people of the Pacific NW have shifted culture by taking visible actions to protect what we love, because the fate of our beloved resident orca depends on salmon from the Columbia-Snake River ecosystem. By breaching the dams - removing the earthen berm barriers impeding a free flowing Snake - scientists believe we can significantly impact runs of wild salmon. These salmon are critical food for the Salish Sea's resident orca. We have always acknowledged that the farmers and shippers who depend on the River need to be part of a recovery plan: Hear some of our talking points in this short video at a Human Orca Mural we did in Spokane. Learn more about Grain Train and how it can help farmers along the Snake in this Conversation we had with Ken Casavant, awhile back. Check out Rep Simpson's Legislative Framework Stay updated on this issue with our friends at Save Our wild Salmon Check out the extensive article by Lynda Mapes of the Seattle Times Thanks to Representative Simpson's leadership - as well as much work by grassroots organizers, including Elliott Moffett, Julian Matthews (Nimiipuu/Nez Perce); Joseph Bogaard and Sam Mace (SOS); Michelle Seidelman in Portland; and many others, we are celebrating the future of a wild Snake River, with benefits for all.
Five Democratic lawmakers on Friday encouraged President Joe Biden to order an immediate shutdown of the Dakota Access pipeline after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last week delivered a victory to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe by ruling that DAPL is operating illegally. The three-judge panel upheld a lower court's ruling that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it granted an easement for DAPL to cross a federal reservoir along the Missouri River, less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The court ordered a full environmental impact statement examining the threats posed by the oil pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as the Democrats' letter to Biden notes, "rightfully fears an oil spill could disproportionately affect their drinking water, as well as hunting and fishing rights." Read more here.
Audubon Society has a great document tracking some of the environmental bills going through the WA legislature. Check it out here. Get on their mailing list for additional updates. Earth Ministry also tracks. Check it out here.
A federal appeals court has struck another blow against the contested Dakota Access Pipeline.
Check out this great series, The Coolest Show, featuring the voices of many Backbone and Solutionary Rail partners who are doing essential work and connecting the dots on trucking and transportation justice. Hear from those on the frontlines of transportation injustice, and learn why solutions must center equity and justice for Black and Brown communities. As Reverend Yearwood says, "Transportation justice IS racial justice." Subscribe to #TheCoolestShow and listen to this 4-part series: Episode 1: Electrification without Automation – Long Beach CLICK HERE to listen. Episode 2: Mobility Crossroads – Kansas City CLICK HERE to listen. Episode 3: Transportation Justice is Racial Justice – Chicago CLICK HERE to listen. Episode 4: EV for the People CLICK HERE to listen. And check out the work of our coalition partners at the Moving Forward Network and the Athena Coalition. Forward Together!
An EPA analysis obtained by APM Reports and The Intercept found that more than 9,000 federally subsidized properties — many with hundreds of apartments or townhouses — sit within a mile of Superfund sites. Those properties are in 480 cities in 49 states and territories. But even that is an undercount. The list of 9,000 properties doesn’t include several subsidized-housing complexes within a mile of Superfund sites. In most cases, the federal government has chosen not to relocate housing complexes near Superfund sites and made only piecemeal attempts to address the health threats. Housing officials often don’t inform people who move into these housing complexes that a Superfund site is nearby. Neither the EPA nor the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the two federal agencies primarily responsible for protecting residents, regularly monitor the potential health threats to residents from nearby environmental pollution. In fact, some housing complexes near Superfund sites haven’t been tested for contamination in years, according to the APM Reports and Intercept investigation. Even when testing is conducted and dangerous contamination is found, the pollution isn’t always cleaned up. As a result, thousands of residents continue to live in places that are potentially dangerous to their health. Read more here.
Just last week, the Puyallup Tribe announced it was suing the owner of the dam, Electron Hydro, LLC, over a long list of environmental hazards and permit violations — including a fish kill that caused the death of thousands of fish and the pollution of the river with un-permitted artificial turf, both of which occurred during construction last summer. That’s in addition to a lawsuit from the Department of Justice over the Clean Water Act. That lawsuit is specifically in response to the artificial turf incident, in which hundreds of cubic yards of turf that dam owner Electron Hydro had placed in the river disintegrated into crumb rubber and flowed downstream to the Puget Sound. Read more here.
Given that the legislative session is happening remotely, anyone can sign in “pro”, “con”, or “other” to legislation that will receive a hearing. Previously, this was something that could only be done if you were physically in Olympia.
The following bills have hearings next week. Please fill out the form completely, including choosing your position (“pro”) at the beginning. Failure to fill out the form completely will not allow you to submit.
Act before Tuesday 7am: WA Can’t wait, incorporating climate resilience in the Growth Management Act, HB 1099.
Act before Wednesday 7am: Environmental Justice (HEAL Act), SB 5141.
Act before Thursday noon: Net ecological Gain for salmon and orca habitat, HB 1117.
Act before Friday 9am: Healthy Homes, Clean Buildings HB.
Environmental Health & Justice Lobby Days - February 8-10, 2021
This legislative session is unlike any other. As the first all-remote legislative session, communication between constituents and their legislators will be both more accessible and more challenging. It's important for us to let our legislators know that a healthy climate, clean water and environmental justice are key to the kind of pandemic recovery and economic rebuilding we need to see in Washington state. Join us online for Environmental Lobby Days, February 8-10, 2021! Team up with other activists from your district to speak up for environmental health and justice and gain the skills to be a persuasive constituent. You'll have the opportunity to attend online issue briefings, learn how to lobby, hear from environmental champions, and meet virtually with your elected officials to advance the Environmental Priorities Coalition's 2021 priorities. Register here.
Website Bill Tracker: For more information about the priority environmental bills and a link to a spreadsheet with many more bills we are tracking, keep our legislative website handy: https://www.re-sources.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2021-Legislative-bill-tracking-Public-facing.pdf
HB 1091 is the Clean Fuels Bill, reintroduced in the 2021-22 session after failing in 2020. It requires reductions in carbon emissions from transportation fuels. The history of the bill in 2020 may affect the progress of the bill for this session:
- It directs the Department of Ecology to adopt a rule establishing a Clean Fuels Program to limit greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. The bill passed the house but it had strong opposition in the senate.
- To counter this opposition, an amendment introduced by Senate Environment Committee Chair Reuven Carlyle made passage contingent on funding transportation projects including an I-5 bridge over the Columbia River. The bill passed the Environment Committee but was stalled in the Senate Transportation Committee.
HB 1050 addresses the leakage of HFC (Hydrofluorocarbon), a greenhouse gas approximately 10,000 times as potent as CO2, although it is in much smaller concentrations (parts per trillion) than CO2 (parts per million). It was developed to replace CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) when it was discovered that CFCs depleted the ozone layer. Although better than CFCs for solving ozone depletion, HFCs were discovered to be highly potent GHGs. Provisions:
- Applies certain existing regulations addressing emissions of ozone depleting substances to HFCs.
- Directs the Department of Ecology (Ecology) to establish a refrigerant management program to address refrigerant emissions from large air conditioning and refrigeration systems.
- Requires Ecology to provide recommendations to the Legislature by December 1, 2021, regarding the design of a program to address the end-of-life management and disposal of refrigerants.
- Establishes a state purchasing and procurement preference for recycled refrigerants.
- Requires consideration of HFC emissions in mandatory utility conservation activities and in codes adopted by the State Building Code Council.
In an example to the rest of the scientific community and an effort to wake up people — particularly policymakers — worldwide, 17 scientists penned a comprehensive assessment of the current state of the planet and what the future could hold due to biodiversity loss, climate disruption, human consumption and population growth. "Ours is not a call to surrender — we aim to provide leaders with a realistic 'cold shower' of the state of the planet that is essential for planning to avoid a ghastly future," according to the perspective paper, co-authored by experts across Australia, Mexico, and the United States, and published in the journal Frontiers in Conservation Science.