Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Environmental Justice
Section title: Environmental Justice
Section subtitle: A safe environment for all.
Our position: Greens believe that no one -- including people of color and the poor -- should be poisoned nor subjected to harmful levels of toxic chemicals and that no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies.
Low-income citizens and minorities suffer disproportionately from environmental hazards in the workplace, at home, and in their communities. Inadequate laws, lax enforcement of existing environmental regulations, and weak penalties for infractions undermine environmental protection and civil rights. Environmental justice is the crossroads of environmental activism and the civil rights movement, founded on two fundamental beliefs:
- All people have the right to live, work, learn, and play in safe and healthful environments.
- People have the right to have a say in decisions that affect environmental quality in their communities.
Greens believe that government must ensure the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
1. Make pollution prevention (i.e., the elimination of threats before they occur) the preferred strategy for dealing with environmental justice issues; always consider cumulative environmental impacts when evaluating risk.
2. Base decision-making upon the precautionary principle, such that polluters bear the burden of proof in demonstrating the safety of their practices.
3. Expand the application of the precautionary principle from chemicals-and-health to land-use, waste, energy, food-policy and local economic development. Continue to develop the precautionary approach into an overarching philosophy for community decision-making, combined with the public trust doctrine (which states government’s role is to protect the commons), and the commons (where we must give the benefit of the doubt to public health and the natural environment).
4. Actively support programs, policies, and activities that build the capacity to identify disproportionate sitings of facilities, discriminatory land use and zoning laws, and to assure nondiscriminatory compliance with all environmental, health and safety laws in order to assure equal protection of the public health.
5. Ensure procedural justice, ensuring the public right-to-know to make rules and regulations transparent in order for communities to access and participate in the decision-making process.
6. Ensure corrective justice, ensuring the right of communities and agencies to seek redress. Communities and agencies must not be required to show or prove “intent” to discriminate to achieve redress for problems of disproportionate environmental impacts.
7. Target precautionary and corrective justice actions and resources in communities with the highest concentrations of environmental hazards.
ORIGINAL 2004 TEXT OF ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE PLATFORM PLANK
Our position: Greens believe that no one -- including people of color and the poor -- should be poisoned nor subjected to specially large doses of toxic chemicals.
Low-income citizens and minorities suffer disproportionately from environmental hazards in the workplace, at home, and in their communities. Inadequate laws, lax enforcement of existing environmental regulations, and weak penalties for infractions undermine environmental protection.
1. Devote greater resources to the enforcement and prosecution of environmental crimes.
2. Add environmental crime units to district attorneys in counties with significant pollution problems.
3. Impose a moratorium on siting new toxic chemical or waste facilities in those counties with the highest percentage exposure to hazardous substances.
4. Never force workers to choose between a hazardous job or no job at all.
5. Prevent communities, especially low-income or minority communities, from being coerced by governmental agencies or corporations into siting hazardous materials, or accepting environmentally hazardous practices in order to create jobs.
6. Precede the siting of hazardous materials or practices with public hearings, conducted in the language of those community members who will be directly affected.