Ohio and a chance for environmental justice

De'Andre Crenshaw
2 min readFeb 15, 2023

Environmental justice relates to the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, regarding implementing and enforcing environmental laws and regulations. Sadly that does not happen in the US. Too often, policy decisions are made by those with power and influence against those who do not. So when you see poor communities or communities of color, you often see disparate environmental outcomes.

I have previously written about Flint, MI, and Jacksonville, MS, focusing on race, but today I want to remind you class or income is also part of environmental justice. East Palestine, OH, is 96% white but recently had a toxic chemical accident regarding a train accident. (Maybe breaking the strike so CEOs could put profit over safety was a bad idea.) While the train accident might not have been avoidable, what could be was the downplaying of how dangerous the event was and how little coverage of the event there is. Sadly even after the EPA said it was safe to return, we saw animals begin dying and residents complaining of illness. Many of the chemicals have short and long-term effects that will require long-term monitoring, but considering the town lacks resources and attention is moving on it, this is unlikely to happen, especially with State and Federal agencies cash crunched. I think it is also important to note this, while I think the EPA is a vital government entity, it has failed here. We have hollowed out the government’s capacity to do anything resulting in them not doing adequate testing and deferring to the industries they should be regulating. We need to change that, and this event highlights something too common in a nation with 40,000 federally recognized Superfund sites (polluted locations with significant environmental degradation) and many that haven’t yet been identified.

I think this is a tragedy, but one that reminds us that corporations prioritize profits over the well-being of citizens, which is why we need to have a government able to push back against that. Too many communities have been written off and need help. These places can be reached and revitalized with a unifying message the government works for you thus it can and should help you. I am hopeful that Democrats will work with Republicans securing the resources needed but also work to expand those resources to all of the various Superfund sites and other toxic sites around the country and use this to clarify the need for government. The Infrastructure law put the funding back for cleanups, now they need to sell it not from DC but in local communities.