Responding to the Crisis: Ensuring Environmental Justice During the COVID-19 Recovery

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Responding to the pandemic in a just way cannot be done without a developed understanding of the environmental injustices and the structural racism that has shaped our communities and occurred over time. Only then can we understand why this virus has the keys to some communities over others and how to ensure vulnerable communities are not only resilient to future climate-related disasters but can flourish from an economic recovery.  

Just one day before the House voted on the HEROES Act; we held a candid conversation regarding those injustices and how to ensure environmental justice during the COVID-19 recovery with National Field Director of Mom’s Clean Air Force Heather McTeer Toney, the Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization at The National Wildlife Federation Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali, and Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition Statewide Coordinator Michelle Martinez.

The HEROES Act included many crucial provisions, including $50 million in environmental justice grants to determine why the novel coronavirus disproportionately impacts marginalized and vulnerable communities. While this is a step in the right direction, these communities will need more support moving forward. Hear all that entails below from some of the biggest voices in the environmental justice space.

Heather McTeer Toney, National Field Director of Mom’s Clean Air Force

Heather McTeer Toney on air pollution programs that are being cut due to the pandemic and how the HEROES Act could help cities and states address those deficiencies. 

Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali, Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization at The National Wildlife Federation

Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali on the evolution of press coverage of environmental justice and the impact of air pollution on black and brown communities. 

Michelle Martinez, Statewide Coordinator for Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition

Michelle Martinez on the impacts of climate change and how it impounds issues of access on communities of color in Michigan.