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Environmental justice demands to halt and recognize the uneven burden executed on minority and poor people by environmentally hazards. It also calls for more inclusive chances for communities that are most affected to be heard in decisions affecting the societies. Therefore, it aims at providing economically viable and environmentally healthy society (Becerra, 2). Due to high concentration of hazardous facilities in low-income communities and societies of color, the city of Chicago initiated new policies to curb the emerging environmental harm (Adamson, Joni, and Kimberly. Ruffin, eds, 3). Across the city, communities are working hard to identify and establish various environmental, economic, public health and social concerns referred as environmental justice issues.
Environmental justice is a complicated issue that needs Federal Agency collaboration. Other Environmental Justice Movements work towards terminating environmental discrimination and racism (Adamson, Joni, and Kimberly. Ruffin, eds, 7). The minorities and low-income communities in Chicago live in dilapidated housing and poor environment that exposes them to health hazards, racial isolation, concentration in small areas and poverty.
Environmental justice derives its principles from the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. All agencies receiving federal funds are required to be environmental justice compliant pursuant to the Executive Order 12898 (Becerra, 9). The Order ensures that Environmental Justice compliance guarantees that the low-income, ethnic population groups and minority population are not affected harmfully because of federal-funded program implementation (Adamson, Joni, and Kimberly. Ruffin, eds, 7). The integrated Federal Interagency Environmental Justice Action Agenda represents a crucial event in the implementation of Executive Order 12898.
Chicago city is a home of diverse people with a substantial proportion of ethnic, minority and low-income populations. In the six sub-counties, the minorities’ population continues to increase at an unprecedented rate (Becerra, 5). For instance, minority population accounts for 43 percent of the region total population. The provisions of Executive Order also apply to programs involving Alaskan Natives and Native Americans. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), for instance, provides transit services in Chicago city and manages both bus and train services. In this regard, CTA must comply with environmental justice in order to ensure that the services caters to the needy and is equitable (Becerra, 10).
Principles of environmental justice ensure that transit services are equitable to low-income earners and benefit the minority population. In addition, it offers public involvement activities to address and facilitate the needs of low-income and minority populations in making decisions. All households within 150 percent poverty threshold are regarded as low-income (Adamson, Joni, and Kimberly. Ruffin, eds, 6). In Chicago City, more than 21.5 percent of populations within the low-income threshold qualify as EJ neighborhoods.
Government agencies such as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have initiated Brownfield Revitalization Programs in order to provide cleanup mechanisms and redevelopment of land in industrial sites. Over the years, the minorities and low-income earners live in close proximity to environmental hazards. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, brownfields include areas formerly abandoned in industrial sites (Becerra, 12). Environmental justice scholars and activists started to offer information on displacement risks of low-income communities and minorities that have undergone brownfield redevelopment.
Various faith-based organizations such as Bethel New Life work in partnership with Integrated Federal Interagency Environmental Justice Action Agenda in Chicago for fulfilling its vision of turning the neighborhood’s environmental liabilities into assets. The organization builds energy efficient, environmental friendly and cheap commercial retail center (Becerra, 19). Bethel organization helps to provide green energy and distribute energy in order to facilitate equal opportunities for all the societies.
Adamson, Joni, and Kimberly N. Ruffin, eds. American Studies, Ecocriticism, and Citizenship: Thinking and Acting in the Local and Global Commons. Vol. 15. Routledge, 2013. Print
Becerra, Marisol. Environmental Justice for Whom? Brownfield Redevelopment And Gentrification In The City Of Chicago. Diss. University of Michigan, 2013. Print