Environmentalists should care deeply about redistricting. Redistricting is the process in which legislators and key stakeholders draw the lines of districts. Without proper representation in this process, issues like gerrymandering happen. This process impacts politics and environmentalists should pay attention to how legislators zone districts.
For instance, in the case of Stonecrest residents fighting back against the air quality challenges a recycling plant would cause, their backyard is zoned as light industrial. The different types of zones reflect what occupies or will occupy the land. The land in Stonecrest directly near the light industrial land hosts subdivisions of homes and the people in Stonecrest are fighting industrial development in their backyards. Stonecrest is a majority Black city. The zoning of industrial development near a community of color mirrors a long history of environmental racism.
Something that can help in the redistricting fight is the Census. The U.S. Census directly relates to distribution of funds and resources in a community. The census informs how much money cities can get for sustainability such as public transit expansion, transitions to renewable energy, and funding for community gardens. More environmentalists in the redistricting process means that these transitions serve communities most vulnerable to the climate crisis.
The impacts of Hurricane Laura on communities in Louisiana paints a clear picture of the climate crisis. Historic hurricanes and storms devastate our communities emotionally, physically, and especially financially. This understanding of the climate crisis and the demand for climate justice needs diverse, inclusive, and equitable solutions to properly combat it. To ensure that people receive the proper relief they need after a natural disaster, cities use the census to know where citizens are and redistricting helps distribute funds or other forms of relief. Local government leadership regulates whether or not to establish a state of emergency, oversees the disbursement of relief funds, and management of natural disaster preparedness and response. Representation on all levels of government can be a matter of life and death.
Lastly, a just transition for Georgia means clean energy for all Georgians. It’s important for communities of color to get counted to make sure renewable jobs and opportunities extend to the people most impacted by pipelines and oil refineries. Additionally, in regards to climate solutions that reduce emissions and harms to reach the most impacted Georgians, people in power have to hear from the most impacted. The census is how people can make their voice heard, and participating in the redistricting process adds a megaphone to it. A just transition can only receive priority if people who support climate justice can elect them. If environmentalists get gerrymandered out of the political conversation, the challenge to implement long term climate policy grows.