Environmental justice resolution up for debate


Evanston’s Environment Board and the Equity and Empowerment Commission will hold a joint meeting Thursday to review a draft of a resolution advocates hope the City Council will adopt supporting environmental justice in the city.

The draft resolution says the environmental justice goal would only be achieved when every resident experiences the same degree of access to environmental assets and protection from environmental hazards and health risks.

It defines those assets as “parks and open spaces, trees, natural areas, community gardens and the lakefront.”

The resolution offers no explanation of how residents who live at a distance an asset such as the lakefront would be given access equal to that available to those who live on the lakefront.

The resolution also calls for the city to develop an inventory of “environmental justice areas” in the city, building on a mapping tool already available from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

A detail image for Evanston from the EPA mapping tool is shown above, with toxic release, water discharge, air pollution and brownfield sites highlighted.

Many of those sites are located along rail lines that once served industrial plants in the city that have since ceased operations.

The resoution also calls for ensuring public participation in decision-making around environmental justice issues and incorporating environmental justice practices into city policies.

Adoption of the resolution has been advocated by the Environmental Justice group within the Citizens’ Greener Evanston organization.

The joint committee meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Parasol Room at the Civic Center.

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