Tag Archives: Environmental Justice

Weekend Reads | Mapping Environmental Health Disparities

by Kevin Schofield


Last month, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released an updated “Washington Environmental Health Disparities Map” for the state. It calculates the environmental risks for communities throughout the state, in terms of the potential negative impacts to their health.

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OPINION | Unsolved Environmental Crisis Continues

by Christian Poulsen and the King County International Airport Community Coalition


The Duwamish River Valley is home to some of Seattle and King County’s most vibrant and diverse communities. These neighborhoods have the least amount of green spaces available to residents, the lowest regional air quality, and host one of the most polluted sites in the nation in the Lower Duwamish Waterway and Harbor Island Superfund Sites. King County International Airport-Boeing Field (KCIA) is one of the many sources of environmental pollution adjacent to these underserved and overburdened communities. Asthma rates in Georgetown and South Park are among the highest in the United States, and residents living within a mile of an airport can expect to live lives five years shorter than others, while mothers face a staggering 43% increased rate of premature birth compared to the rest of King County. 

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OPINION: PNW Wildfires Threaten Health Equity, Especially if You’re Pregnant

by Megan Burbank


As we prepare for this summer’s wildfire season in King County and throughout the state, it’s essential to track disproportionate impacts on People of Color, folks living in poverty, young children and older adults, and people with underlying health conditions, like asthma and cardiovascular disease. These impacts are well-documented, but a new report shows that pregnant people are also at risk when air is unhealthy to breathe, and the toll can be even greater when other factors, like poverty, converge with expecting a baby.

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Symposium Highlights Immigrant and BIPOC-Driven Environmental Justice Initiatives

by Vee Hua 華婷婷


In a day of networking and presentations by community-led immigrant- and BIPOC-driven environmental justice initiatives, the Port of Seattle hosted the South King County Environmental Symposium on Saturday, June 18, at Highline College in Des Moines, Washington. Included in the programming were three panel discussions focused on “Cultivation and Cultural Belonging: Equitable Access to Healthy Foods through Community Gardens,” “Community-Led Stewardship and Youth Activism,” and “Green Jobs for a Just Transition.” In total, 10 different nonprofit and public sector groups were represented.

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Seedcast: You Don’t Leave Anything Behind

by Michael Painter

Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have celebrated storytelling as a way to connect the present to past lessons and future dreaming. Narrative sovereignty is a form of land guardianship, and Nia Tero supports this work through its storytelling initiatives, including the Seedcast podcast, as well as in this monthly column for media partner the South Seattle Emerald.

Content Warning: This piece includes references to the experience of attending Indigenous boarding schools in the United States and the aftermath of catastrophic weather events.


When I introduce myself, I start with the most important: I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. I grew up in Indian Territory, often referred to as Oklahoma. I currently live on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish peoples, now known as West Seattle. Then, if there’s time, I share a little about my job and life experience. I’m a lawyer, a family physician, a father and grandfather, and I’m managing director, Programs at Nia Tero based in Coast Salish Territory.

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A Duwamish Valley Truck Electrification Program Looks to Reduce Air Pollution

by Tushar Khurana

But the program faces a legacy of driver exploitation…


For months, the news has been brimming with stories of the so-called “supply chain crisis” — the disruption of shipping and manufacturing that has stranded cargo carriers and logjammed containers at ports around the world, resulting in PPE shortages, empty grocery shelves, and a general scarcity of consumer goods. But for many communities, the global distribution system’s routine operations present regular supply chain crises of a different sort. 

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Seattle’s Heating Oil Tax: A Missed Opportunity for Environmental Justice

by Tushar Khurana


In September 2019, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed a law that would tax home heating oil sold within the city and could eventually require residents to upgrade or decommission their heating oil tanks by 2028. The legislation was introduced to meet the City’s climate goals by hastening the transition to cleaner electric home heating across the city. It was also lauded in a mayoral press release as a “bold and thoughtful approach” to environmental policy that “help[s] our most vulnerable residents move off heating oil.” Revenue from the tax is intended to fund rebates for homeowners and help provide 1,000 fully paid electric heat pump installations for low-income residents.

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Cascadia’s Climate Champions Learn They Can Win at the Local Level

by Peter Fairley

(This article was originally published on InvestigateWest and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


Acting on international calls to freeze fossil fuel infrastructure, citizen activists working with environmental justice groups and Indigenous nations are pushing local governments to rewrite the rules for building everything from airports and gas stations to industrial zones. 


“We were here before the airport was. They forget that,” says Rosario-Maria Medina, a community activist in the South Seattle neighborhood of Georgetown, just north of bustling Boeing Field. When Seattle’s first commercial airport opened in 1928, Georgetown had been a vibrant community for more than half a century.

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Seedcast: Storytelling Is Guardianship

by Tracy Rector

Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have celebrated storytelling as a way to connect the present to past lessons and future dreaming. Narrative sovereignty is a form of land guardianship, and Nia Tero supports this work through its storytelling initiatives, including the Seedcast podcast, as well as in this monthly column for media partner the South Seattle Emerald.


Many of us have known for quite a while that climate change, accelerated by human decisions and behaviors, is not only real but a direct threat to life as we know it. While the findings of the IPCC report released in August of 2021 might not have been a surprise, that didn’t make them less alarming. The report inspired urgent conversations not only at planet-focused nonprofits like the one I work at, Nia Tero, but on a global scale and in individual homes: What can we do to heal the planet? What role can we play? Where are the solutions?

The good news is that human decisions and behaviors can also heal the planet, as evidenced by the land guardianship carried out by Indigenous peoples around the world in the form of tending to the land with fire, seed saving, or not taking more than you need. Indigenous land stewardship shows us not only the ways of the past and present but also the ways of the future. As an extension of that work, Indigenous storytelling links a millennium of knowledge with current day action. This is why Indigenous storytelling is an integral part of climate justice today.

Nia Tero Storytelling Fellow Jonathan Luna (Huila) connects Indigenous land sovereignty and narrative sovereignty in this way: “As part of creating the world, a place with more justice and liberation for all, historically oppressed and marginalized people, which include Indigenous peoples, need to create our own narratives regarding our lived experiences, be it historical or contemporary. The role of storytelling in these struggles, in all of its multiple forms and media, is fundamental and necessary; there are no imitations, fast-forwards, or shortcuts. The narratives of the people who dedicate their lives on the frontlines of defending the most biodiverse, water-rich yet fragile ecosystems that contribute to help sustain the world’s climate are the stories that policymakers need to be seeing and hearing.” 

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The South End Guide to Reducing Our Carbon Footprint: Fighting Plastics

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Did you know that only 9% of plastic is actually recycled? That percentage even includes the wide range of plastics we put in the recycling bin. Plastic bottles are recycled consistently, but everything else — milk jugs, plastic wrappers, the clamshells that package your deli sandwich — ends up in landfills, incinerated, or shipped overseas to stagnate in heaps in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia or the Philippines. 

Worldwide, plastic invariably ends up in oceans and waterways, polluting the ecosystem, consumed by fish and other sea animals, which in turn are eaten by us. Even if you don’t eat seafood, plastics are everywhere. In fact, there is so much plastic in the world that we literally eat, drink, and breathe in microplastics. It’s estimated that we could be ingesting up to a credit card-size of microplastics a week. What that plastic consumption means for our bodies is still undetermined, although plastic chemicals can act as endocrine disruptors and could have harmful effects on hormones and reproductive systems. It’s a sobering reminder that we can’t outrun or outsource our waste. 

In this installment of our ongoing series on how to reduce our carbon footprint, we’ll take a look at what makes plastics so harmful, what the good news is, and how a group of South End youth are educating their neighbors on plastic waste. 

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