Our culture, our community and our way of life, as Indigenous People, we lived in coexistence with Nature. There is a culture of inflicting harm since time and memorial as Indigenous People welcomed the strangers….
Colonization, Doctrines of Discovery and manifest destiny and capitalism have resulted in mass extinction of Natural Relatives and the Climate Crisis.
With our inherent rights to the land, the water and the air, we are the defenders, we are the protectors and we honor our Natural Relatives. Many of the impacts from the last 150 years are adverse, why are we continuing along this path of destruction and desecration?
The Eagle and the Condor Prophecies call for all to take the path of healing….
Earth Justice Coordinator
Society of Native Nations
Open Letter To the White House Council on Environmental Quality:
We would want to first express our appreciation for the development of the United States’ first Ocean Justice Strategy (Docket Number: CEQ-2023-0004), which represents a significant step in acknowledging the environmental and social disparities faced by ocean justice communities. While this strategy is a positive development, we believe it is crucial to emphasize the need for concrete action and tangible change on the ground to address the challenges ocean communities face.
To ensure we have ocean justice we must ensure we conserve our marine resources and have access to our ocean and coast by everyone, not just the industry or the affluent. Every beach in the country should be public and every project and policy should be evaluated from a social/environmental justice and in consideration of tribal consultation and consent. The Seventh Generation Principle, based on an ancient Haudenosaunee (Iroquois)* philosophy, that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future must be considered in every case when looking at consequences of permitting approvals.
The following practices should be outlawed to protect people, the planet and ensure a living climate:
Deep sea mining
Sea water desalination
Carbon Capture from Ocean Water
Hydrogen and ammonia production (any color)
Plastic production and pollution
Deep sea mining can have detrimental effects on our ocean and its creatures.
Harming sea creatures: Deep sea mining can disturb the homes of many animals and plants that live in the dark depths of the ocean. Some creatures might get hurt or lose their habitats, which can make it hard for them to survive.
Pollution: When we mine the seabed, there’s a chance that harmful chemicals and waste can leak into the water. This pollution can hurt sea life and make the water unhealthy.
Unequal Impact on Communities: Deep sea mining affects different communities in different ways. Some communities near mining sites might suffer more from pollution and environmental damage than others. This can be unfair because it means that some people have to deal with more negative effects while others do not.
Loss of Traditional Ways of Life: Some communities in coastal areas rely on fishing or other activities for their livelihoods. Deep sea mining can disrupt these traditional ways of life and make it hard for them to continue living as they have for generations.
Limited Access to Benefits: When companies mine the ocean floor, they might make a lot of money from selling the minerals they find. However, the benefits might not reach the local communities directly. This creates a situation where people who are most affected by the mining don’t get to share in the profits.
Lack of Involvement in Decision-Making: Sometimes, decisions about deep sea mining are made without consulting the communities that will be impacted. This means that the people who will be most affected don’t have a say in what happens to their environment and their lives.
Global Impact on Vulnerable Nations: Deep sea mining can also have global implications, especially for small island nations that are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. If mining causes environmental damage, these nations might suffer the consequences, even though they might not be the ones benefitting from the minerals being extracted.
Changes in the ocean floor: Mining can change the shape of the ocean floor, and that might affect the way water flows and how nutrients are distributed. It could cause disruptions in the delicate balance of the underwater ecosystem.
Loss of unique places: The deep sea is full of incredible and unique places we haven’t explored fully yet. Mining might damage these special places, and we might lose the chance to learn more about them and the creatures that live there.
In conclusion, deep-sea mining can be terrible for the ocean’s health, its creatures, and the beautiful underwater world. That’s why it’s essential to think carefully about how we use our ocean’s resources and find more sustainable ways to do it. Deep sea mining can raise concerns about environmental justice because it can disproportionately affect certain communities, disrupt traditional ways of life, limit access to benefits, exclude local voices from decision-making, and have global repercussions for vulnerable nations. It’s essential to consider these aspects and find ways to ensure fairness and sustainability when engaging in deep-sea mining activities.
Nuclear energy is a stupid way to heat water with nuclear reactors to make electricity by using uranium. The waste from making this energy is harmful to our environment, including the ocean.
When we use nuclear energy, there’s a chance that harmful radiation might accidentally leak into the air, soil and water. This can hurt the plants and animals that live in the ocean, like fish, turtles, and tiny creatures. They might get sick or even die because of this pollution.
Some of these ocean creatures are unique and not found anywhere else in the world. So, we need to be careful not to harm their habitats and keep the ocean safe for them.
We need to think about how nuclear energy can affect ocean life and the people living nearby. It’s essential to be fair to everyone and find clean alternatives to nuclear energy that are safer for our environment and the people who call those places home. That way, we can enjoy the benefits of electricity while protecting the ocean and the people who share this beautiful planet with us.
Desalination is the most expensive way to source water, is inefficient, expensive, and deadly for ocean life.
Inefficiency: Desalination is the process of turning salty seawater into fresh drinking water. While it can give us clean water, it takes a lot of energy to do so. This means it requires a large amount of electricity or fuel, which can be bad for the environment because it contributes to climate change. So, even though it gives us water, it’s not the most efficient way to get it.
Expensive: Desalination needs a lot of energy, and that energy costs money. Building and running desalination plants can be quite expensive, especially in places where water is already scarce. So, it might not always be the most affordable option for getting fresh water, especially in poorer communities.
Deadly for Ocean Life: When seawater is taken into the desalination plant, it often has marine life like fish and tiny sea creatures in it. The process of removing the salt can harm or even kill these ocean creatures. Also, the leftover salty and chemical-filled water, called “brine,” is usually pumped back into the ocean. This brine can be harmful to marine life and affect the balance of the ocean’s ecosystem.
Unequal Resource Allocation: Desalination plants are often built near the coast, where salty seawater is easily accessible. However, these areas are sometimes home to communities that are already facing environmental challenges. Environmental justice communities, which may include low-income neighborhoods or marginalized groups, might have been living there for a long time. When desalination plants are established, they take up valuable space and resources that these communities need for other important things.
High Costs and Affordability:Desalination is expensive to build and run. This cost is often passed on to the people using the water. Environmental justice communities, which might already be struggling financially, could find it difficult to afford the higher water prices that result from desalination. This can create an unfair burden on these communities, making it harder for them to access clean water.
Environmental Impact on Local Ecosystems: Desalination has negative effects on the ocean environment, as it requires taking in seawater and releasing brine back into the ocean. This brine is harmful to marine life and affects the balance of the local ecosystem. Environmental justice communities, which might rely on the ocean for their livelihoods or cultural practices, could be disproportionately impacted by these environmental changes.
Lack of Community Involvement:
Sometimes, decisions about building desalination plants are made without involving the affected communities in the decision-making process. This means that the people who will be most impacted don’t have a say in what happens in their own neighborhoods. Environmental justice is about including everyone’s voice in these decisions to make sure they are fair and just.
In conclusion, desalination can negatively affect environmental justice communities by taking up resources, raising water costs, harming local ecosystems, and excluding their voices from important decisions. It’s essential to consider the needs and concerns of these communities when planning and implementing desalination projects to ensure fairness and protect the environment for everyone.
So, while desalination can give us clean water, it’s not the best choice because it’s inefficient, expensive, and can harm ocean life. It’s essential to think about other water conservation methods and ways to protect our oceans while ensuring everyone has access to safe drinking water.
Carbon capture from ocean water
Carbon capture from ocean water, also known as ocean-based carbon capture and storage (CCS), refers to the energy-intensive process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industrial sources and then injecting or dissolving them into the ocean for long-term storage. While this approach may seem like a promising solution to mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it has been criticized for being a form of greenwashing and for posing significant problems for environmental justice communities. Here are some reasons why:
Insufficiently addressing the root cause: Carbon capture with ocean water focuses on capturing emissions after they are produced, rather than addressing the root causes of carbon emissions. The primary sources of carbon emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels and industrial processes. By investing in ocean-based CCS, industries may use it as a way to continue with business-as-usual practices without truly transitioning to more sustainable and renewable energy sources.
Risk to marine ecosystems: Injecting large quantities of CO2 into the ocean can have adverse effects on marine ecosystems. The increased acidity resulting from the dissolved CO2 can harm marine life, including corals, shellfish, and other organisms that rely on calcium carbonate for their shells and structures. Furthermore, the potential for leaks or malfunctions in CCS systems could lead to localized ocean acidification and harm sensitive marine habitats.
Uncertain long-term effects: The long-term consequences of ocean-based CCS are still not fully understood. Injected CO2 may resurface due to natural processes or cause unintended consequences for marine life, potentially disrupting food chains and habitats. The risks associated with long-term storage in the ocean need thorough assessment and consideration.
Diverting focus from renewable energy: Investing in ocean-based CCS may divert resources and attention away from more sustainable and viable solutions, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal power. A shift toward renewable energy would address the root cause of carbon emissions and significantly reduce the need for carbon capture in the first place.
Environmental justice concerns: Ocean-based CCS projects are often located near coastal communities, many of which are already burdened by other environmental issues, such as pollution and industrial activities. These communities, often consisting of marginalized and vulnerable populations, could face disproportionate impacts from potential leaks, accidents, or other negative consequences associated with carbon capture in the ocean.
Lack of transparency and accountability: There are concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability in ocean-based CCS projects. The potential risks and impacts on marine ecosystems and coastal communities must be thoroughly evaluated and communicated to the public. Without proper oversight and engagement with affected communities, the implementation of ocean-based CCS could exacerbate existing environmental injustices.
In summary, while carbon capture with ocean water may appear to be a green solution, it is not without its problems and potential negative consequences. Instead of relying solely on carbon capture technologies, emphasis should be placed on reducing carbon emissions at the source, transitioning to renewable energy, and engaging in sustainable practices that address the root causes of climate change. Environmental justice communities, in particular, must be included in decision-making processes to ensure their voices are heard, and their concerns are addressed in any climate change mitigation strategies.
Hydrogen and ammonia production (any color, including “green”)
Hydrogen is a false solution and should not be considered clean and/or renewable. When it comes to environmental justice, these challenges can impact communities in different ways.
Producing hydrogen typically requires a lot of energy, and the most common method involves using natural gas in a process called steam methane reforming. This releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. If hydrogen is produced using fossil fuels like natural gas without capturing the resulting emissions, it may not be as environmentally friendly as it seems.
Energy Efficiency: The overall process of producing, transporting, and using hydrogen may result in energy losses, making it less efficient compared to other renewable energy sources like solar and wind. If not produced and used efficiently, it might not provide the best environmental benefits for the effort and resources invested.
Impact on Environmental Justice Communities: Environmental justice communities, which are often marginalized and disadvantaged, might be affected in various ways:
Resource Allocation: Investments in hydrogen infrastructure and research might divert resources from other more immediate and critical needs within these communities.
Proximity to Production Facilities: Hydrogen production facilities, particularly if they rely on fossil fuels, might be placed near marginalized communities. This can lead to increased pollution and health risks, negatively impacting these communities.
Timing and Priorities:
Hydrogen is a false solution and the urgency of addressing climate change requires immediate actions. Investing in hydrogen would slow down the adoption of other renewable energy sources that are available today and proven to have a positive impact on the environment.
Hydrogen is a false solution and it has many challenges and potential negative effects when it comes to environmental justice. It’s crucial to carefully consider the environmental and social impacts of hydrogen production, distribution, and implementation to ensure a fair and sustainable energy transition for all communities. A holistic approach that includes a mix of renewable energy solutions can be more effective in addressing environmental justice concerns and combating climate change.
Offshore drilling: Offshore drilling can have several negative effects on environmental justice communities, which are often marginalized or disadvantaged groups. Here are some of the key concerns:
1. Pollution and Environmental Damage:
Offshore drilling can lead to oil spills and leaks, which can pollute the ocean and coastal areas. Environmental justice communities, which may be located near drilling sites or along coastlines, are more likely to suffer the direct impacts of pollution. This can harm marine life, affect water quality, and damage the habitats on which these communities rely for their livelihoods.
2. Health Impacts:
Air and water pollution from offshore drilling operations can lead to health problems for nearby communities. Environmental justice communities, which often have less access to quality healthcare, might face higher rates of respiratory issues, skin problems, and other health challenges due to exposure to pollutants.
3. Disruption of Livelihoods:
Fishing and tourism are essential sources of income for many coastal communities. Offshore drilling activities can disrupt these livelihoods by causing habitat destruction, affecting fish populations, and deterring tourists due to concerns about oil spills. Environmental justice communities, already vulnerable to economic hardships, can bear the brunt of these negative impacts.
4. Unequal Economic Benefits:
The economic benefits generated by offshore drilling, such as job opportunities and revenue for local governments, might not always reach the environmental justice communities. Instead, these communities might be left dealing with the negative consequences while others reap the rewards.
5. Limited Participation in Decision-Making:
Environmental justice communities often face barriers to participating in the decision-making processes that affect them directly. Decisions about offshore drilling projects are sometimes made without meaningful consultation or input from these communities, leading to a lack of consideration for their unique concerns and needs.
6. Climate Change Implications:
Offshore drilling contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, which drive climate change. Environmental justice communities are more likely to be disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels and extreme weather events, even though they might not be significant contributors to global emissions.
In conclusion, offshore drilling can have severe negative effects on environmental justice communities, including pollution, health issues, economic challenges, and limited involvement in decision-making. It’s crucial to address these concerns and advocate for more sustainable and equitable energy solutions that prioritize the well-being of all communities, especially those that are most vulnerable.
Overfishing: Overfishing can have significant negative impacts on environmental justice communities, which are often marginalized or disadvantaged groups. Here’s why overfishing is bad for these communities:
1. Disruption of Livelihoods:
Environmental justice communities, especially those living in coastal areas, often depend on fishing as a vital source of income and food. Overfishing can deplete fish populations, making it harder for these communities to catch enough fish to sustain their livelihoods and feed their families. This can lead to economic hardships and food insecurity.
2. Unequal Access to Resources:
Large industrial fishing operations often have more resources and technology, allowing them to exploit fishing grounds more efficiently. Environmental justice communities, with limited access to such resources, may find it difficult to compete with these large-scale operations. As a result, they face disadvantages in accessing and benefiting from their traditional fishing grounds.
3. Impact on Cultural Practices and Identity:
Fishing is often deeply intertwined with the culture and identity of environmental justice communities. Overfishing can disrupt their traditional practices and threaten their connection to the ocean and its resources, leading to a loss of cultural heritage and spiritual significance.
4. Environmental Consequences:
Overfishing doesn’t just affect the fish populations; it can also harm the broader marine ecosystem. Removing too many fish disrupts the natural balance, affecting other marine species and habitats. This can lead to ecological imbalances, which can ultimately impact the overall health and resilience of the ocean.
5. Health and Nutrition:
For many environmental justice communities, fish is a crucial source of nutrition and essential nutrients. Overfishing can reduce fish stocks, making it harder for these communities to access a diverse and nutritious diet, leading to potential health issues, especially among vulnerable populations like children and the elderly.
6. Limited Participation in Management Decisions:
Environmental justice communities may face barriers in participating in fisheries management decisions and policies that directly impact their fishing practices. As a result, their voices and concerns may not be adequately heard, and they may not have an equal say in decisions that affect their way of life and well-being.
In conclusion, overfishing can harm environmental justice communities by disrupting their livelihoods, limiting their access to resources, threatening their cultural practices, and impacting their health and nutrition. Addressing overfishing requires a comprehensive approach that considers the needs and rights of these communities, promotes sustainable fishing practices, and ensures their meaningful participation in fisheries management and conservation efforts.
Deoxygenation: Deoxygenation caused by fertilizer pollution, particularly in coastal areas, can have severe negative impacts on environmental justice communities. Here’s why it’s bad for these communities:
1. Harm to Marine Life:
Fertilizer pollution, particularly excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, can lead to harmful algal blooms in the ocean. When these algae die and decompose, it consumes oxygen, creating “dead zones” with low oxygen levels. This can suffocate marine life, making it difficult or impossible for fish and other ocean creatures to survive. Environmental justice communities, often dependent on fishing and coastal resources, may suffer from declining fish populations and reduced access to seafood, impacting their livelihoods and food security.
2. Disruption of Livelihoods:
Many environmental justice communities rely on fishing and aquaculture as a primary source of income and employment. Deoxygenation caused by fertilizer pollution can disrupt local fisheries and aquaculture operations, leading to a loss of livelihoods and economic hardships for these communities.
3. Access to Safe Water and Food:
Fertilizer pollution can also contaminate drinking water sources in coastal regions. Environmental justice communities may face challenges in accessing safe and clean drinking water due to this pollution, leading to health risks and waterborne diseases.
4. Health Impacts:
Deoxygenation caused by fertilizer pollution can release harmful substances like hydrogen sulfide, which is toxic to both marine life and humans. Coastal communities might be exposed to these toxic substances, leading to respiratory issues, skin irritations, and other health problems.
5. Limited Resources for Solutions:
Environmental justice communities often have limited access to resources and political influence to address pollution issues effectively. They may lack the financial means to implement mitigation measures or advocate for policy changes to reduce fertilizer pollution in their coastal areas.
6. Environmental Inequity:
Fertilizer pollution and its consequences disproportionately impact environmental justice communities, which are often located in vulnerable coastal regions. These communities may bear the brunt of the pollution, even though they may not be the main contributors to the problem. Meanwhile, the industries and agricultural practices responsible for the pollution may be located far away from these communities.
In conclusion, deoxygenation caused by fertilizer pollution is bad for environmental justice communities due to its harmful effects on marine life, livelihoods, access to safe water and food, and overall health. Addressing this issue requires equitable solutions that consider the needs and rights of these communities and promote sustainable agricultural practices and pollution reduction measures.
Surface runoff: Surface runoff can have several negative impacts on environmental justice communities, which are often marginalized or disadvantaged groups living in specific geographic areas. Here’s why surface runoff is bad for these communities:
1. Water Pollution:
Surface runoff occurs when rainwater or snowmelt flows over the land, picking up pollutants like pesticides, fertilizers, oil, and other harmful substances along the way. This runoff can end up in nearby rivers, lakes, or coastal areas, leading to water pollution. Environmental justice communities might be more likely to live near industrial or agricultural areas, where runoff is likely to carry more pollutants, making their water sources unsafe for drinking and recreation.
2. Health Risks:
Polluted runoff can pose significant health risks to environmental justice communities. Exposure to contaminated water can lead to various health issues, such as gastrointestinal problems, skin irritations, and respiratory illnesses. These communities may already face limited access to healthcare, exacerbating the health impacts of water pollution.
3. Erosion and Habitat Destruction:
Surface runoff can erode soil and cause habitat destruction, leading to loss of natural habitats for plants and animals. This can negatively affect biodiversity and ecosystem health, which may have cultural and economic significance for environmental justice communities, especially those with close ties to the land.
4. Flooding and Property Damage:
Excessive surface runoff, particularly in urban areas with impervious surfaces like concrete and asphalt, can overwhelm drainage systems and cause flooding. Environmental justice communities might be more likely to live in low-lying or flood-prone areas, making them more susceptible to property damage and financial losses from floods.
5. Limited Access to Green Spaces:
Surface runoff can also impact the quality of local green spaces and recreational areas, reducing the availability of safe and enjoyable outdoor spaces for environmental justice communities. This can have negative consequences for physical and mental well-being, as these communities might already face limited access to recreational opportunities.
6. Unequal Distribution of Solutions:
Implementing solutions to mitigate surface runoff, such as green infrastructure or stormwater management projects, may not be equally accessible to environmental justice communities due to financial constraints and a lack of influence in decision-making processes. As a result, they might not benefit from these solutions as much as more affluent communities.
In conclusion, surface runoff is bad for environmental justice communities due to water pollution, health risks, erosion, flooding, limited access to green spaces, and unequal distribution of solutions. Addressing surface runoff requires a comprehensive approach that considers the needs and rights of these communities and promotes sustainable land use practices and stormwater management to protect both the environment and the well-being of those living in affected areas.
Plastic production and pollution: Plastic production and pollution have significant negative impacts on the ocean and environmental justice communities. Here’s why they are bad for both:
1. Ocean Pollution:
Plastic pollution is a major contributor to the growing problem of marine litter. When plastic waste is not properly disposed of or managed, it often ends up in the ocean. The ocean becomes littered with plastic bottles, bags, straws, and other debris, which harms marine life. Sea animals can get entangled in plastic or mistake it for food, leading to injuries, choking, and even death. Plastic pollution disrupts marine ecosystems and threatens the health of many ocean species.
2. Environmental Justice Impacts:
Environmental justice communities, especially those living in coastal areas, are more likely to be disproportionately affected by plastic pollution. They may have limited access to waste management services and resources to deal with plastic waste effectively. As a result, they might face higher exposure to plastic pollution and its negative consequences on health, livelihoods, and overall well-being.
3. Disproportionate Production:
Environmental justice communities might also bear the brunt of plastic production, as plastic factories and manufacturing facilities are often located near vulnerable communities. These communities may be exposed to air and water pollution from plastic production, impacting their health and quality of life.
4. Health Risks:
Plastic pollution in the ocean can lead to the release of toxic chemicals into the water. These chemicals can be harmful to marine life and might also contaminate seafood that coastal communities rely on for food. Environmental justice communities, which may already face health disparities, might be more vulnerable to the adverse health effects of ingesting or being exposed to these toxic substances.
5. Social and Economic Disparities:
Plastic pollution can exacerbate existing social and economic disparities within environmental justice communities. For example, coastal tourism and fishing industries, which are vital sources of income for many of these communities, can suffer due to plastic pollution. The negative impacts on these industries can lead to job losses and economic hardships.
6. Inequitable Waste Management:
In many cases, plastic waste from wealthier areas or industries is exported to poorer countries or regions with less stringent waste management regulations. This can lead to environmental injustice, as environmental justice communities might be burdened with the disposal and cleanup of plastic waste generated elsewhere.
In conclusion, plastic production and pollution have far-reaching consequences for the ocean and environmental justice communities. They contribute to ocean pollution, harm marine life, and negatively impact coastal communities’ health, livelihoods, and well-being. Addressing plastic pollution requires concerted efforts to reduce plastic production, improve waste management systems, and advocate for more equitable solutions that prioritize the health and interests of all communities, especially those most vulnerable to the effects of plastic pollution.
Aquaculture, which is the farming of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic organisms, can have negative impacts on environmental justice communities, which are often marginalized or disadvantaged groups. Here’s why aquaculture can be bad for these communities:
1. Environmental Degradation:
Aquaculture can lead to environmental degradation when not managed sustainably. Large-scale aquaculture operations might cause water pollution from excess feed, antibiotics, and waste, impacting the surrounding ecosystems. This pollution can harm marine life and affect the quality of water in coastal areas where environmental justice communities may rely on fishing or recreational activities.
2. Competition for Resources:
Aquaculture operations often require large amounts of water and space, leading to competition for resources with traditional fishing practices and other coastal activities. Environmental justice communities may find it challenging to access and use these resources fairly, as they may not have the financial means or political influence to compete with large aquaculture companies.
3. Displacement of Livelihoods:
In some cases, large-scale aquaculture projects can displace traditional fishing and coastal communities, leading to a loss of livelihoods and cultural ties to the land and sea. This displacement can exacerbate social and economic inequalities within these communities.
4. Limited Access to Benefits:
Aquaculture projects may not always benefit environmental justice communities directly. The economic gains and employment opportunities generated by aquaculture operations might not reach these communities, as large companies may dominate the industry and control the profits.
5. Water Use and Quality:
Aquaculture operations require substantial amounts of water for fish farming. This water use can strain local water resources, affecting the availability and quality of water for nearby communities, including drinking water and agricultural needs.
6. Introduction of Non-Native Species:
In some cases, aquaculture can involve the introduction of non-native species, which may escape into the wild and disrupt local ecosystems. Environmental justice communities may be more vulnerable to the negative impacts of invasive species due to their close proximity to aquaculture operations.
7. Lack of Community Involvement:
Environmental justice communities may not always have a say in the planning and decision-making processes regarding aquaculture projects. This lack of involvement can lead to the implementation of projects that do not align with the needs and priorities of these communities.
In conclusion, while aquaculture can be an important source of food and income, it can have negative impacts on environmental justice communities when not managed sustainably and equitably. It is essential to consider the needs and rights of these communities in the development of aquaculture projects and ensure that they benefit from such initiatives in a fair and sustainable manner.