A Grassroots Rallying Cry for Environmental Justice

by Rachel Rye Butler

April 28, 2017

Speaking truth to power — that's what I had the opportunity to witness last week in San Francisco when environmental justice leaders from across California and Arizona highlighted the pollution their mostly black, brown, Native, and low-income communities are facing to a room of officials from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Environmental Justice Rally at EPA Office

Ralliers gathered outside the EPA's San Francisco office to march for environmental justice on Earth Day. © Nathalie Arfvidson / Greenpeace.

On April 21, Earth Day, Greenpeace was one of more than 60 co-sponsoring organizations — led by California Environmental Justice Coalition and Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice — who met with the EPA and rallied to protest the Trump administration’s attacks on environmental protection, health, and justice.

For too many communities, access to clean air and clean water is not and has never been a reality. Many of the activists meeting with the EPA this week were there not by choice, but because they have no other option but to fight back against dirty air, contaminated water, and the health impacts of polluting industries in their backyard.

Because they’re living the impacts first-hand, they also know the solutions. But don’t take it for me, take it from this young leader:

The message from these community leaders was clear — we need more protections for clean air, clean water, the climate, and our health, not fewer.  

But if Trump gets his way, fewer protections for our health and environment are exactly what we’ll get.

His draft budget proposes a 31 percent cut to the EPA, putting all of us at risk, but especially communities on the frontlines of environmental injustice. These communities know that Trump and his EPA head Scott Pruitt don’t work for them. They work for industry, and in the words of Miss Margaret Gordon of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, they’ve “got to go.”

And on that note, she dropped the mic and led us marching and rallying outside.

For the rest of us, it’s time to follow her lead. You can act in solidarity with with these grassroots leaders by calling 1-877-969-2590 and telling Congress to resist cuts to the EPA today!

Rachel Rye Butler

By Rachel Rye Butler

Rachel Rye Butler leads the Democracy Campaign at Greenpeace USA. She writes frequently about people power, voting rights, and money in politics.

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