What is environment justice, and what does it have to do with pollution prevention?
Environmental Justice and pollution prevention are symbiotic. They mutually lead to one another, environmental justice leading to pollution prevention and pollution prevention leading to environmental justice.
For example, a community affirms its right to justice, its right to oppose a high-risk toxic, hazardous, or radioactive facility that poses a threat; the facility is stopped, justice is served, and pollution in the community is prevented.
Additionally, for example, government could prevent pollution escaping from toxic, hazardous, and radioactive industries by mandating and enforcing stringent statutes and environmental regulations that are applied equally with transparency and independent oversight in wealthy and politically-connected counties and states, in rural and urban communities, and regardless of color or economic class.
The outcome of such rigorous and equitable statutory and regulatory pollution prevention measures would be to achieve environmental justice, a rarity in a world where the politics of the day usually determine how we deal with dangerous substances that last hundreds to hundreds of thousands of years.
Justice on the Demise, Especially in North Carolina
Here in North Carolina, the politics of the day is as short-sighted and deep-pocketed as ever, and our state is in grave danger as our environmental and civil rights are being trampled by Governor Pat McCrory and legislators who have promoted and passed regulations and legislation in 2013 that
— take away voter rights and economic and medical help and insurance protection for the poor and underpaid;
— that protect the natural gas fracking industry from transparency and liability for its use of dangerous chemicals that threaten groundwater.
— that lure mega waste disposal industries with the attraction of weakened regulations and the promise of little to no accountability and oversight, thus making North Carolina a potential dumping grounds for the Eastern Seaboard.
Environmental Injustice Looms Over Virginia, North Carolina, and Eastern Seaboard with Uranium Mining Cloud
In Virginia, this past year, environmental justice and pollution prevention issues have been paramount, as uranium mining prospectors, industry lobbyists, state regulators, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission officers pressed Virginia legislators to lift a 30-year ban on uranium mining in Virginia. The opposition to uranium mining has been fierce, consisting of a dedicated and broad coalition of people and organizations from across Virginia and North Carolina, including civic, environmental, business, and civil rights groups and of municipalities and counties downstream from the proposed uranium mine.
While Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe opposes uranium mining and will not sign legislation to lift the ban on uranium mining, uranium mining officials have boldly announced that they have no intention of going away and are committed to a long-haul process to legalize uranium mining. In fact, Virginia Energy Resources, the company that intends to mine uranium, has erected a large sign that says , “Welcome to Pittsylvania County, Home of the Safest Uranium Mine in the World,” blatantly disregarding ordinances that prohibit such a conjectural message.
Pittsylvania County where the proposed Coles Hill uranium deposit is situated (one of the largest in North America which is about 20 miles from the North Carolina border in Southside Virginia, near Chatham, Virginia, and at the headwaters of the Roanoke River Basin, which includes Kerr and Gaston Lakes, the water supply to nearly two million people in North Carolina and Virginia.
Meanwhile, as uranium exploration continues to be legal and company officials declare their commitment to get uranium mining legalized, uranium mining opponents in Virginia and North Carolina are continuing to prepare for what could become a politically and environmentally apocalyptic battle that would decisively determine the fate of the Eastern Seaboard and beyond.