The environment is an American problem - not a Democrat or Republican one. Even outside the context of American politics, the environment presents challenges of a unique character. By their nature, environmental problems are ‘big’ problems that likewise affect ‘big’ groups of people and require ‘big’ solutions. Clean air cannot be achieved merely through the regulation of one industry in one part of the country, or through the passion of one highly motivated group or individual; in an even broader sense, clean air cannot even be achieved only through the cooperation of one country. 

Human life and dignity depend on a healthy environment. Without the clean air, water, and food necessary to sustain life, we cannot realize our potential as human beings. Simply put, environmental rights are the foundation from which all other human rights are made possible. Protecting Americans from unsafe levels of air pollution is not only a question of good governance. Given that some communities are more exposed than others, it’s also a matter of social justice. Time and again, studies have shown that low-income and other socially-disadvantaged communities bear a disproportionate burden of environmental hazards.