|Lois Gibbs passionately shares her story of the political|
fight for justice for Love Canal residents.
Ms. Gibbs, founder of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), delivered an inspiring talk on Wednesday, April 16 at the School of Public Health's Third Annual Environmental Justice and Health Lecture.
Ms. Gibbs explained her experience building an association of homeowners in Love Canal, a development that was built on a toxic chemical dump in Niagara Falls, NY, in the late 1970s. Research by the homeowners association showing that 56% of children born in the area had birth defects was initially dismissed as "useless housewife data" by authorities. However, the association's persistent efforts through legal action, public events and a media campaign to bring attention to the sick children eventually led the state and federal government to take action, first by evacuating the area and later by creating legislation to locate and clean up toxic waste sites throughout the United States.
|Lois Gibbs was introduced by Sacoby Wilson (right),|
Assistant Professor in the Maryland Institute
for Applied Environmental Health and director of the
Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health program
"The environmental justice movement needs strong voices," Ms. Gibbs said. She gave advice on how to use health studies and science in political fights and how to plan strategically for confrontation with political leaders. "If you're opposed to fracking in Maryland, you have to be in Governor O'Malley's face," she said. She urged audience members to get the governor's phone number and make a call to his office to express anger and disapproval about issues like the export of gas extracted by fracking through the Cove Point liquified natural gas export facility in southern Maryland. She jokingly suggested that if you get bad grade or get cut off in traffic, that you can redirect the anger in a constructive way by calling your elected officials!
"We're fighting a political fight," she urges.
liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility
|Lois Gibbs displays a copy of |
Everyone's Backyard, CHEJ's newsletter
|Left to right: Rebecca Rehr (MPH '12), Rianna Murray (PhD candidate), Lois Gibbs, |
and Crystal Romeo Upperman (PhD candidate)