COVID-19 is an environmental justice issue, reminding communities that:
Affordable access to clean water must be considered a human right for survival and sanitation to prevent the spread of disease. Water shutoffs for families who can’t pay should not start up again after the pandemic is over! Families without clean water cannot protect themselves from coronavirus.
Black, brown and low-income people are more affected by health issues than other groups. This is because pollution and the stress of racism and discrimination are concentrated in their neighborhoods and workplaces, where it’s even harder to find and afford personal protective equipment (PPE).
People already burdened by environmental injustice can be even more vulnerable to new environmental crises such as coronavirus and climate change. At the same time, it is possible to reduce the use of fossil fuels like gasoline, and see big improvements to the environment.
The COVID-19 crisis is being exploited in ways that are environmentally destructive and, broadly, the response is not adequately addressing the needs of the most vulnerable. For example, federal administrators are using COVID-19 as an excuse to stop enforcing environmental laws that protect vulnerable people from pollution. They are also using the distraction created by COVID-19 to undo some laws completely. Polluting businesses are using this moment to apply for permits to continue polluting.
We hope you and your family are doing well through the COVID-19 quarantine and all the changes to daily life that come with it. Please see below for a list of resources, more on COVID-19 through an environmental justice lens, and some actions you can take to ensure that the response to the current crisis prioritizes justice as well as public health.