Environmental Justice for All
It has been my life’s work to understand the intersection between poverty, pollution, and political power and fight for equitable environmental action. I am ready to take this fight to Washington to ensure that our most marginalized communities have the support that they need to build lives and enjoy all Vermont has to offer.
The demographics and rural isolation in this state can hide environmental injustices in our communities, yet issues of water quality, indoor air quality, energy poverty, transportation access, food insecurity, and associated health risks are still disproportionately affecting low-income and BIPOC populations. We have already begun to see that climate change has a greater impact on low-income and BIPOC communities, where a lack of political power means disproportionately negative health and quality of life outcomes. It wasn’t long ago that Vermont was hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene causing $733 million in damage statewide. While mobile home residents made up 8% of the population at the time, they were 40% of the victims of flooding — and they are still struggling to recover.
15 years ago, I introduced Vermont’s first environmental justice bill to address the systemic inequities Vermonters were experiencing in their communities. It’s been a long road to passage, and I’ve learned that the key to success is bringing more people to the table – specifically people who most directly feel the brunt of climate failure. From mobile home workers to migrant farmworkers to business owners, we’ve finally built the coalition to overcome the skepticism and corporate pushback that it takes to pass a first-of-its-kind environmental law in Vermont. Passing this legislation puts us on a path toward building an environmental movement that truly centers the voices of those most impacted by our climate crisis.
We must take this same approach across the nation: allocating resources to account for those who are most impacted by the climate crisis. Specifically, I support the Justice40 Initiative to direct at least 40 percent of federal investments to communities on the frontlines of our economic, environmental, and public health crises.
Our communities deserve clean water, clean land, and clean air. That means cleaning up Brownfield and Superfund sites, pollution hotspots, and toxic sites, and reducing emissions from corporate fossil fuel companies. It also means eliminating all federal fossil fuel subsidies including tax breaks, bailouts, and loan guarantees. Finally, it means investing federal funding to decontaminate our drinking water from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), replacing all lead pipes, and repairing our country’s water systems.
Environmental justice also includes focusing on disaster-prone areas to ensure Vermonters have the resources to return to their communities after extreme climate events.