MKE FreshAir Collective
Advocacy & Policy
Environmental justice is the principle that all individuals and communities have the right to a safe and healthy environment, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Unfortunately, many communities of color and low-income communities have been disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards, including poor air quality. To address these issues, it is essential that we promote policies and regulations that prioritize the health and well-being of all individuals and communities, regardless of their background.
Implement stronger regulations on polluting industries
Implement and enforce stronger regulations on polluting industries to reduce the amount of harmful pollutants released into the air. This should include penalties for non-compliance and a requirement for industries to use cleaner technology and practices.
Increase funding for community-led air quality monitoring
Increase funding for community-led, neighborhood-level air quality monitoring and research, particularly in communities of color and low-income communities. This will provide a better understanding of the impacts of poor air quality on these communities and help to inform policy decisions.
Incorporate EJ into land-use planning
Incorporate environmental justice into land-use planning by considering the impacts of proposed developments on nearby communities. This should include conducting environmental impact assessments that take into account the potential impacts on air quality and health in surrounding areas, and involving community members in the decision-making process.
Increase funding for public transportation
Increase funding for diesel-free public transportation systems to reduce the number of cars on the road, and therefore, reduce air pollution from transportation. This can be done by expanding electric public transportation options, improving existing systems, and providing incentives for ridership such as reduced or capped fares and improved rider experience.
Invest in clean energy sources
Investment in clean energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal power to reduce air pollution from traditional energy sources such as coal and natural gas. This can be done through incentives for clean energy development, regulations on fossil fuel use, and investment in clean energy infrastructure.
Complete Streets policies are designed to create streets that are safe and accessible for ALL users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. By making streets more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, governments can encourage alternative modes of transportation that reduce air pollution.
The development and implementation of anti-racist policies that address the root causes of environmental racism and promote environmental justice is critical. This must include, at a minimum, reviewing and reforming policies and practices that perpetuate systemic racism, such as addressing the historical impacts of redlining and zoning policies that concentrated polluting industries in communities of color and low-income communities. All policies must also prioritize the voices and needs of these communities in decision-making processes and provide resources to support community-led efforts to address environmental injustices.
By incorporating anti-racism into environmental and air quality policy, we can work towards creating more just and equitable environments that prioritize the health and well-being of all communities, particularly those that have been historically marginalized and impacted by environmental injustices.