Water pollution, justice and responsibility, with actress Gloria Reuben
The former Michigan governor is currently on trial over his decision to change the Flint, Michigan Water the supply must come from a source contaminated with lead. His decision to do so left thousands of people, including hundreds of children, suffering from irreversible illnesses and potentially brain damage for the rest of their lives from lead poisoning. At least 12 people have died and at least 80 people have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease; Flint is 54.1% black and 4.5% Latinx.
Flint is not alone. “We found that in 400 (US counties) race was a factor when it came to the water problem,” said Michelle Roberts, national coordinator for the Environmental Justice Health Alliance, in a video from the Newly released National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on January 22nd, 2021.
Looking at years of data, the NRDC’s chief scientist, Kristi Pellen Fedinick, Ph.D, found a “relationship between race and income and drinking water violations,” as she explained in the video, finding higher rates of drinking water violations in communities of color and low-income communities.
As we commemorate Black History Month 2021, it’s important to remember the health risks to the black community beyond covid-19, especially in something as basic as water. .
Our bodies are on 60% water, so we literally cannot survive without water. This is probably why the NRDC video is titled “Safe Drinking Water is a Right”.
Fight for safe water against industrial polluters
One organization that has fought for clean water and against water polluters for decades is the Waterkeeper Alliance, founded in 1966 to defend fishermen in Hudson Valley, New York, who were losing their livelihoods to polluters. industrial contaminants in waterways. Robert Kennedy Jr. joined them in 1984 and today he has over 300 Waterkeeper groups around the world advocating 2.5 million square miles of waterways, including rivers, lakes and waterways. coastal areas on six continents.
“When you talk about waterway pollution, it goes a lot to industries, like fossil fuels of course, like factory farming, like businesses or companies that are allowed to just dump their wastes or by-products from manufacturing. things, manufacturing, in the waterways, when there is no regulation then clearly then people can just do whatever they want without any consequences ”, even if they harm the communities that live there. in their region and who depend on this waterway for their drinking water, in doing so, Gloria Reuben, the new president from the Waterkeeper Alliance told me recently on my podcast.
Holding water polluters accountable is what Waterkeepers have been doing for decades, and what they continue to do today, while pushing for tougher environmental regulations. It has been behind many historic water protections over the decades, including an epic 30-year battle against General Electric (GE) which ultimately resulted in GE agreeing to remove the highly toxic PCBs it the company’s factories dumped into the Hudson River. Naturally, the cleaning is closely supervised by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is reviewed every five years – and under the watchful eyes of Waterkeepers and its partner organizations.
“When it comes to drinking water, it’s a very simple thing,” said Reuben. “It’s not easy to get there, but… Everyone knows what it is. Not everyone knows what it’s like not to have it, but … we have to protect them [communities whose water is contaminated by industrial polluters] and we must bring these polluters to justice. “
Environmental advocacy had been his secondary activity
As a black woman herself, Reuben understands the plight of people of color who try to be treated fairly, including in her main career, the entertainment industry. Yes, this Gloria Reuben, the acclaimed TV and film actress of “ER” fame, in Marvel’s “Cloak & Dagger”, and in films like “Lincoln” and “A Reasonable Doubt” to name a few. a few.
Having defended in his spare time on the NRDC Board of Directors, as well as for former Vice President Al Gore’s “The Climate Reality Project” and as a Waterkeepers Trustee from 2007 to 2010, Reuben now has a new full-time job as President of the Waterkeeper Alliance. (She told me that she considered herself having two full-time jobs, as an actress-singer-songwriter.)
It’s about water justice and the safety of all communities
Water is a basic need of all mankind, and women in particular are passionate about it, said Reuben.
It’s about protecting the health and safety of all communities – and, as Roberts said in the NRDC video, low-income and communities of color frequently fall victim to polluters.
Holding polluters accountable is key, Reuben stressed, whether it’s oil and gas companies, industrial agriculture, or industrial chemical waste and by-products. “It’s a spillover effect, if you will, of polluters, whether it’s industries or businesses or even individuals. When there are no laws to protect the people who live in that area, then it is a free game for everyone. ”
“At the end of the day, race matters when it comes to environmental injustices and we need to do something about it. We have to, ”Roberts insisted in the NRDC video.
You can listen to my full interview with Gloria Reuben on the Green Connections Radio podcast at greenconnectionsradio.com, or wherever you want to listen to podcasts.