Appalachia’s environmental challenges – the fundamental right to clean air, water and food.
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…
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