Environmental Justice and NIMBY
Throughout this course, you have discussed natural resources and the importance of managing them wisely and in a sustainable manner. Communities face a number of challenges, such as what to do with waste, how to provide energy to citizens and businesses, and how to regulate industries that might pollute the environment. This is often done on a limited budget, and politicians are under a lot of pressure to please a lot of different interest groups as they create the policies and make these decisions.
Often, people can agree that a new power plant, oil refinery, or waste disposal site is needed. People have a much harder time agreeing on where these facilities should be located within their communities. A common phrase used to describe this phenomenon is “not in my backyard” or NIMBY. Because no one wants to live near certain types of facilities, they traditionally have been concentrated in communities where people have the least influence, power, and/or money to prevent their construction. Once constructed, these facilities negatively impact public health, the environment, and quality of life, while the surrounding communities have fewer resources to monitor the effects and/or demand reparation. Many people are now fighting for what is termed “environmental justice” to ensure that the burdens of dealing with pollution are handled in a manner that is fair to all citizens. For additional background on environmental justice, and former president Bill Clinton’s presidential order to address environmental justice in minority and low-income populations, visit these sites:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2019, February 6). Environmental justice . https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice
Executive Order 12898. (1994, February 11). Federal register , 59(32). http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/pdf/12898.pdf
This week, you are tasked with writing a persuasive letter to an elected official on an environmental concern of your choosing based on scenarios provided in your text. You will research and explore environmental literacy on this topic and report if there are currently any policies in place associated with this challenge. Is there currently any citizen action surrounding this issue, and are there any individuals or businesses currently affected by this challenge? If there are policies in place, do they hinder or help your community’s ability to overcome this challenge? Or is there a need for more policies to be put into place?
Explore one of the following case studies from your textbook and choose a concern to write about. You will choose a case study of interest and write your letter as if this is an issue in your own community.
· Withgott, J. H., & Laposata, M. (2021). Environment: The science behind the stories [PDF ebook]. Pearson Higher Ed.
· What’s Killing Smallmouth Bass in the Potomac River Watershed? (pp. 412–413)
· A Sea of Plastic in the Middle of the Ocean (pp. 421–423)
· Clearing the Air in L.A. and Mexico City (pp. 451–452)
· Alberta’s Oil Sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline (pp. 523–525)
· Mapping Mountaintop Mining’s “Footprint” in Appalachia (pp. 654–655)
· Saving the Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem (pp. 105–107)
You are writing on behalf of yourself as a stakeholder on this issue this week. You will need to propose a plan of action and/or request help and give reasoning for needing such help or change. Consider the following questions and advice to help you.
1. Briefly introduce yourself and why you are writing this letter.
2. Where is the community you researched (provide a city and state)?
3. What is the environmental issue in the community you have chosen?
4. What facilities (current or historical) might be responsible for the release of pollutants into your community?
5. Is this problem spread throughout the community or located in one area? Be sure to reference which case study you chose.
6. What impacts could these pollutants have on:
a. Children and families?
b. Wildlife and resources?
7. Is there any important or crucial demographic data you need to mention? Describe any potential environmental justice concerns.
8. What is most important to you in terms of rectifying this?
9. What do you want to see your elected representative do about it (e.g., carbon drawdown solutions)? Discuss any short-term and/or long-term steps and outcomes.
10. Write a hypothesis on what you think would happen if this problem was solved.
11. Who holds the authority to make this happen?
12. Tell them you look forward to receiving a reply on what can be done.
Keep it brief and limited to one issue. Remember, you are the expert on this issue, and the legislator only represents you.
Consider the following resources to help you if you need them;
· Chapter 7 (pp. 178–184)
· Withgott, J. H., & Laposata, M. (2021). Environment: The Science behind the Stories, PDF eBook. Pearson Higher Ed.
· Ranniger, G. (2020). Environmental injustice . https://www.ehn.org/environmental-justice-2646185608/the-father-of-environmental-justice
· Natural Resources Defense Council. (n.d.). The environmental justice movement . https://www.nrdc.org/stories/environmental-justice-movement
· S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Learn about environmental justice . https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/learn-about-environmental-justice
Basic Writing Expectations:
· Your letter should be approximately 750 words, not including the title or reference pages.
· Include an introduction and conclusion.
· Include a title page, double-space your letter, and use a font size of 10 or 12.
· Include a highly developed viewpoint/thesis, purpose, and exceptional content.
· Demonstrate superior organization — use logic.
· Make certain that your letter is free of grammar and spelling errors.
· Avoid plagiarism.
· Use APA style for the body of the letter, all in-text citations, and references.