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Is a healthy environment a human right? Testing the idea in Appalachia

Joined:
4/9/2008 12:11 pm
From Wilderness, VA via Hacker Valley, WV
Posts: 14416
http://theconversation.com/is-a-healt ... -idea-in-appalachia-80372

Do we have a fundamental right to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food? The idea of environmental human rights is receiving growing attention worldwide, driven by our global ecological crisis. But the United States has lagged behind in codifying these rights into laws and in successfully furthering them.

While this may seem like an issue for legal scholars, it has very real importance for regions like Appalachia, where I work. Coal mining has caused widespread ecological and health damage here for more than a century, alongside other industries such as chemical manufacturing and, recently, natural gas production.

Many Americans elsewhere view Appalachia’s environmental health conditions with ambivalence or outright classist indifference, and some have written us off as a “national sacrifice zone.” But our environmental struggles echo conflicts over the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Niger River Delta oil fields and other places that are trying to limit harms from extractive industries.

In my work and in a recent Oxford Human Rights Hub podcast, I have proposed reframing Appalachia’s concerns as a struggle for “environmental human rights” – the idea that all people are entitled to a healthy environment. Characterizing these problems as violations of environmental human rights can open up new and more robust legal remedies. It also means that environmental harms will be viewed more vigorously as moral issues. We view them that way at West Virginia University College of Law’s new Appalachian Justice Initiative, which is working to secure a better future for our region....



Continued at the link.

Posted on: 8/4 12:03 pm
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