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Posted on: April 18, 2022

What Is Environmental Justice And How Does It Affects Our Community?

The Golden Valley Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commission (DEIC) is hosting its next quarterly Building and Equitable Golden Valley (BAEGV) forum May 19, 6 pm in partnership with the Golden Valley Environmental Commission (EC). The program, Environmental Equity: Identifying Inequities in Green Infrastructure/Amenities, will cover environmental justice, how it affects Minnesotans and Golden Valley residents, and what the State and City are doing to address it. 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as the fair treatment of people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. This means no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental, and commercial operations or policies. The Minnesota Department of Health defines it as a state where all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income benefit from equal levels of environmental protections and have opportunities to participate in decisions that may affect their environment or health. 

Climate change is one of the biggest environmental justice issues, according to the United States Department of Health & Human Services. In many parts of the United States, Black, Indigenous, people of color,  inner-city residents, rural residents and people of lower income levels are disproportionately affected by climate change.  

These factors that can affect someone’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and cope with the impacts of climate change on health include: 

  • living in areas particularly vulnerable to climate change like near highways, waste disposal facilities, and in areas with little to no green space;
  • living in low income communities with limited access to healthcare services;
  • having high rates of uninsured individuals who have difficulty accessing quality healthcare;
  • having limited availability of information and resources in a person’s native language.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency created an interactive map show the correlation between environmental justice and specific populations in Minnesota, and shows which areas in the State are of most concern. View the map here.

Community members interested in learning more about environmental justice are encouraged to attend the BAEGV forum May 19, 6 pm in-person at City Hall or virtually via Cisco Webex. 

For details, visit the DEI page on the City website

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