Environmental Justice - Environmentalists for Bernie
Environmentalist, Environmental, Bernie Sanders, Bernie, Sanders, President, Democrat, Environmentalists for Bernie, Climate Change, Green, Sanders 2016, Sanders for President
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Key Actions on Environmental Justice

“Flint is a wake-up call to the fragile nature of our public water supply, but unfortunately, Flint is not alone. While these types of crises tend to affect poor and minority communities disproportionately, they do impact families across the socioeconomic divide. The deteriorating state of our municipal water systems represents a clear and present danger to the health and welfare of all Americans. Everyone is vulnerable” – Bernie Sanders and Erin Brockovich
“Sci­entif­ic evid­ence shows com­munit­ies of col­or suf­fer more from the neg­at­ive ef­fects of in­hal­ing pol­luted air and drink­ing pol­luted wa­ter,” Mike Casca, an aide to Sen. Sanders. “The neigh­bor­hoods where these Amer­ic­ans live will con­tin­ue to be the hard­est hit if we don’t act to stop cli­mate change now” – Sanders campaign

Diverging views: Sanders and Clinton on climate change. By Dr. Timmons Roberts. Democrat candidates both agree global warming is a pressing issue, but their plans to tackle the issue are significantly different. Click here to read more.

Bernie Gets Environmental Racism: Sanders’ platform on environmental justice shows he puts people before profits. Click here to read more. 

Indigenous environmental youth activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez endorses Bernie. Click here to read more. 

Bernie Sanders Is the Only Presidential Candidate With a Plan to Empower Native Americans. Click here to read more. 

10 Seattle Women on why they support Bernie. Click here to read more. 

A Chicano musical band has written a corridor (folk ballad) dedicated to Bernie. This is an honor within Mexican popular culture. Click here to listen.

Current Platform on Environmental Justice

Bernie’s current campaign platform on Racial Justice recognizes that “People of color disproportionately experience a daily assault on their health and environment. Communities of color are the hardest hit by air and water pollution from industrial factories, power plants, incinerators, chemical waste and lead contamination from old pipes and paint. At the same time, they lack access to parks, gardens and other recreational green space.” For Bernie, “access to a clean and healthy environment is a fundamental right of citizenship. To deny such rights constitutes an environmental injustice that should never be tolerated.”


In order to achieve environmental justice, his campaign is calling for the equal enforcement of environmental, civil rights and public health laws, as well as the cleanup of Superfund hazardous waste sites in communities of color. He is also calling for an end to the unequal exposure of people of color to harmful chemicals, pesticides and other toxins in homes, schools, neighborhoods and workplaces and challenge faulty assumptions in calculating, assessing and managing risks, discriminatory zoning and land-use practices and exclusionary policies. To this end, he believes the Federal government can promote cleaner manufacturing processes, renewable energy systems and safe product designs that end pollution and the use of toxic chemicals, while providing safe jobs and other economic benefits for people of color. Furthermore, he would demand that Federal agencies must develop and implement clear, strategic plans to achieve climate and environmental justice and provide targeted action where the needs are greatest.


In December of 2015, Bernie released his campaign platform for Combating Climate Change to Save the Planet.  As part of the plan, he states that “the financial cost of climate change makes it an economic issue, its effect on clean air and water quality make it a public health problem, its role in exacerbating global conflict and terrorism makes it a national security challenge and its disproportionate impacts on vulnerable communities and on our children and grandchildren make acting on climate change a moral obligation. We have got to solve this problem before it’s too late.”


Bernie’s campaign platform on climate change is also the only plan provided by any of the major candidates to address the needs of workers and vulnerable communities in our transition to a clean energy economy, and is also the only campaign calling for a progressive carbon tax. This bold plan outlines exactly how Bernie intends to make the emissions reductions we need, and he does it in a way that takes people into account. He’s incorporated the voices of young people, workers, and low-income communities and people of color.


As part of his climate change platform, he would create a national environmental and climate justice plan that recognizes the heightened public health risks faced by low-income and minority communities. See his climate change platform for more details.


Click here to read “Environmental Justice Is a Latino Issue and Will Influence Our Vote: Chris Espinoza of EarthJustice Supports Bernie.”


The Presidential Race and Environmental Racism: Flint Water Crisis Center Stage at Democratic Debate
Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!: The race for the Democratic nomination intensified this weekend as Sen. Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton at caucuses in Maine, Kansas and Nebraska, while Clinton easily won in Louisiana. On Sunday night, the candidates faced off in a debate in Flint, Michigan, where they laid out their plans for addressing the water crisis afflicting the city.​
Watch the Video and Read the Transcript

Native American tribes experience a host of environmental and social injustices that must be immediately addressed. Bernie has led a number of efforts to address these injustices.


Bernie led the fight against the Keystone XL Pipeline since Day One. He is also the only presidential candidate to publicly oppose the tar sands oil Alberta Clipper pipeline in Minnesota, the fracked oil Sandpiper line in Minnesota, the fracked oil Bakken pipeline in Iowa, and the fracked gas line in New Hampshire.


Bernie introduced the Save Oak Flat Act with Rep. Grijalva in the House of Representatives to repeal a federal lands transfer of a sacred place in Arizona to a foreign mining company.


Bernie voted to make the Indian Health Care Improvement Act permanent and expand health care services for Native Americans as a provision of the Affordable Care Act.


Bernie’s proposed Climate Justice Resiliency Fund, which is paid for by a tax on carbon, would make climate adaptation investments in low-income and minority communities, including tribes, to help build resilience to the extreme impacts of climate change.


Bernie’s Low Income Solar Act of 2015 would invest $200 million in loans and grants to offset the upfront costs for solar on community facilities, public housing, and low-income family homes including Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, and federally recognized tribes.


  1. Supporting Tribal Sovereignty and Tribal Jurisdiction: The United States Constitution recognizes the inherent sovereignty of tribal nations. Tribes must have the ability to prosecute non-Native people who commit crimes on tribal land. Bernie will fight to provide the resources necessary for effective law enforcement and tribal courts. He will work to streamline tribal retrocession from P.L. 280 for those tribes that wish to do so, and will encourage the continual development of the U.S. Department of Justice Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information to provide tribes with access to national crime information systems for both civil and criminal purposes.
  2. Upholding the Trust Responsibility: We must honor the treaties and federal statutes that are the foundation of the trust relationship. Bernie will maintain a White House Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs to ensure that tribal issues are consistently addressed and coordinated throughout the federal government. Bernie will also create a position within the Office of Management Budget (OMB) to ensure adequate subject matter expertise and sufficient coordination. Bernie will appoint senior level tribal appointees with access to all Executive Agency leadership to engage in meaningful consultation with Native Americans. Further, Bernie is committed to the principles of trust modernization to update antiquated trust practices to better serve tribal nations.
  3. Housing: Bernie will fight for increased local control over the administration and operation of tribal housing programs. He will also fight for full funding of the Indian Housing Block Grant Program. And his Rebuild America Act would increase funding for necessary infrastructure for tribal housing.
  4. Education: In order to create economic opportunities, we must invest in education from early childhood through higher education. Bernie will fight to fully fund the Bureau of Indian Education. Full funding and strengthening self-determination will enable culturally tailored learning, unique to each tribal nation, and help to retain qualified teachers for Native youth. Bernie will build upon the “all of government,” integrated work of the Generation Indigenous initiative to take a comprehensive approach to ensure that every native child can reach their full potential. Moreover, Bernie’s College for All plan allows students to refinance federal debt, lower interest rates, and triples federal work-study jobs.
  5. Health Care: Bernie believes that health care is a right, and supports a Medicare-for-all health care system that would complement the health care provided by the Indian Health Service. Critically, Bernie will work to fully fund the IHS, strengthen regional management and recruitment of committed IHS health care personnel, direct his administration to audit IHS operations, and ensure that Native Americans have adequate, safe, and affordable access to primary care providers, including oral health and mental health practitioners and substance abuse treatment options.
  6. Restoring Tribal Lands: All tribes must have the right to protect and restore their lands. Bernie will fight to streamline the land-into-trust process and work to reverse the Carcieri Supreme Court decision that resulted in an unjust two-tier system of tribes.
  7. Economic Development: Bernie will advocate for economic development in Indian Country by fighting to rebuild roads and bridges and to fully connect America’s rural areas, including access to broadband. Additionally, all federal grants open to state and local governments will also be open to tribes.
  8. Climate Change and Environmental Protection: Bernie’s climate change plan will transition away from fossil fuels to a 100 percent clean energy system. Bernie believes that we must provide a just transition for workers, so his plan includes $41 billion to provide benefits and training for oil, gas and coal workers as they transition in to clean energy jobs. In the first 100 days as president, Bernie will convene a climate summit with the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists and indigenous communities to chart the best strategy against climate change. Bernie’s climate plan calls for an end to fracking for natural gas and mountaintop removal coal mining. Bernie will fight for other critical environmental laws and policies like the Clean Water Rule.
  9. Protection of Sacred Places and Native American Cultures: Tribal communities must be empowered by providing resources to protect and revitalize indigenous languages, religions, cultures, and traditions. Native children are the future of tribal nations; the Indian Child Welfare Act is critical to survival and must be enforced with the original intent of the law. Further, tribal cultures, sacred places, religious practices, and landscapes must be federally protected.
  10. Consultation: Bernie will reexamine Executive Order 13175 “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments,” to ensure that consultation means more than mere listening sessions. Further, all voices — tribal leadership and grassroots alike — must be heard. Bernie will expand the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference that brings tribal leaders, cabinet members and the White House together to find solutions to common problems.


As president, Bernie will call attention to the pressing needs in Vieques, Puerto Rico, including environmental clean-up, raising the quality of life and health on the island, and improving socioeconomic development. The alarming rates of cancer and other serious health conditions on Vieques due to environmental damage must be addressed and remediated. As one of the poorest municipalities in Puerto Rico, Vieques must have access to the same economic development opportunities as the rest of Puerto Rico. It is also important to continue to honor the role of David Sanes Rodriguez and Robert Rabin in the ultimate end to the bombings on the island’s beaches after more than 60 years of live-fire bombing practices.

Past Actions on Environmental Justice

In early August 2015, Sanders introduced an en­vir­on­ment­al-justice amend­ment in the Sen­ate calling for a “national environmental and climate justice climate change plan,” in order to resolve “the disproportionate impacts of air pollution to low-income and minority communities. The amendment was in re­sponse to le­gis­la­tion that would ef­fect­ively block Pres­id­ent Obama’s ef­fort to curb green­house-gas emis­sions from power plants, a key pil­lar of the White House cli­mate agenda. The amend­ment calls on Con­gress to af­firm a wide ar­ray of stat­ist­ics point­ing to the heightened pub­lic health risks faced by Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans, His­pan­ics, and Amer­ic­an In­di­ans and Alaska nat­ives as a res­ult of air pol­lu­tion. Upon endorsing him this summer, Friends of the Earth Action cited  his “bold ideas and real solutions to addressing climate change, inequality and promoting a transformative economy that prioritizes public health and the environment over corporate profits.”


In July of 2015, the sen­at­or also proposed legislation to ex­pand ac­cess to sol­ar power in low-in­come com­munit­ies by providing grants and loans to low-income people to install solar panels on their homes.  This bill would help to lower electric bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help foster more democratic control over energy production and distribution.


More recently, Bernie unveiled new legislation to ban the extraction of coal, oil, and natural gas on public lands in the United States. The “Keep it in the Ground Act” is a direct challenge to the Obama administration’s failure to restrict fossil fuel production at its source, and could prove especially beneficial to people of color and lower-income residents residing in energy extraction zones. It would end new leases for drilling both on and offshore, including in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans. Introduced with much fanfare in front of the US Capitol, Bernie also enlisted a handful of Democratic co-sponsors, an indication that his ideas are finding a home among the progressive left in Congress. Click here to read more on The Leap.


Bernie introduced the Senate companion to a Grijalva bill to overturn a disastrous land exchange that hurt the San Carlos Apache’s rights and other tribes in Arizona. It was a huge giveaway of federal land to a foreign copper company. Read more about the bill here.


In response to the lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan, a post-industrial city that is 40 percent black and becoming increasingly poor, Bernie has recently demanded that Governor Snyder resign, saying that thousands of children may now suffer brain damage from lead because the governor knew about the problem and did nothing for months to fix it.


The Executive Order on Environmental Justice

President Bill Clinton issued an Executive Order on Environmental Justice in 1994 requiring the EPA and other federal agencies to address the disproportionate environmental impacts of their decisions and programs on communities of color and low-income communities. However, environmental justice advocates argue the executive order has never truly been implemented.  In 2005, Senator Sanders introduced legislation to enhance the executive order and require it to remain in force.


Pres. Candidate Bernie Sanders Shares Stage with Native Organizer Tara Houska. Read more here.