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Help Detroiters Achieve Environmental Justice


Beyond bankruptcy, a serious problem faced by the Motor City is serious widespread environmental degradation.   Fortunately, a coalition of Michigan environmental groups has made fixing this problem their top priority, putting together a prioritized list of green issues the city can no longer overlook, and an action plan for how to tackle these issues.


According to The Detroit News, the new Detroit Environmental Agenda points out, among other problems, that: more than half of Michigan children affected by lead poisoning live in Detroit; five of the top 25 zip codes for highest pollution levels in Michigan are found in Detroit; and the city recycles only 7 percent of its solid waste—compared to 26 percent recycled by other major cities.


The problems fall under the rubric of a worldwide movement for “environmental justice.” The Environmental Center at the University of Colorado Boulder explains: “The concept of environmental justice grew out of the realization that polluting industries and facilities, such as landfills and power plants, are often located near low-income communities and communities of color. The recognition that certain communities are disproportionately burdened by pollution and experience unequal access to environmental resources has led to efforts to identify and correct these discrepancies.”


Detroit's serious pollution problems, combined with U.S. Census data, suggest that Detroit is a prime example of a city that suffers from environmental injustice. Peoples of color make up 90 percent of the city’s population. Per capita income from 2007 to 2011 peaked at $15,261 while the state average comparatively soared at $25,482.


Of course, knowing that they are not alone in bearing undue burdens for pollution and ecological woes does not, in itself, help Detroiters. “We want people to not only read and support the (Detroit Environmental Agenda), but most importantly, to use it to make Detroit the safe and healthy place we know it can be,” said Guy Williams, president and CEO of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ).


To follow this issue and show your support, you can like the Facebook page of DWEJ.