The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies … It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”
I think Oceano is being discriminated against because it is a beach community, yet it is denied a safe beach access free from vehicles, and it is not involved in the decision-making process regarding the management of the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.
In Oceano, we are mostly Latino and poor. Most of us lack knowledge, means and skills to voice — let alone fight — the environmental injustice done to us by letting vehicles drive through our community, on the beach and dunes.
While others enjoy themselves, we are forced to suffer from bad air quality, traffic congestion and exclusion from the decision-making process.
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Lucia Casalinuovo, Oceano