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A look at environmental justice efforts in Connecticut: 'It's everybody's problem'

Local Resident Flood Meeting
Ayannah Brown
Connecticut Public
Sharon Lewis, environmental advocate and affected resident shared her story of losing some of her most prized possessions, family heirlooms and her entire home due to over $100,000 worth of sewage flooding. She has been forced to live out of a hotel for over a month.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently launched a new office dedicated to environmental justice and civil rights.

EPA administrator Michael Regan says the 200-person office was needed to elevate the fight for overlooked communities, who are too-often left vulnerable to pollution, contamination, or as one guest notes, "food apartheid." There are plans to distribute $3 billion in grant money to communities in need.

This hour, we dig into the issue of environmental justice. What are the environmental injustices where we live, and who is pushing for change? How are EJ advocates feeling?

Sharon Lewis is the executive director of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, who says she is experiencing the issue firsthand after her home in Hartford's North End was rendered uninhabitable due to sewage overflow and flooding issues.

While the EPA is actively investigating sewage issues in the area alongside the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Metropolitan District Commission or MDC, the non-profit corporation overseeing sewage and water service in the region, says they believe Lewis is dealing with a "private property issue," versus a failure of infrastructure.

There is a GoFundMe raising money to help pay for repairs and Lewis' temporary housing at a hotel, but she says she is hoping for further updates from federal, state or local authorities.

Lewis joins us to discuss her recent experience, and how it has informed the work she does. She touches on common misconceptions about environmental justice and its application. "It's everybody's problem," she says.

Lewis says the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice is also working on a water justice campaign in Hartford's North End.

Hartford Courant social justice and race reporter Deidre Montague shares her reporting.

Plus, we hear from Kat Morris, a local scholar-activist for intersectional environmental justice.

"Driven to act by my love for Bridgeport," Morris organized the first annual Seaside Sounds for Environmental Justice event "to raise awareness on and inspire action about the environmental issues harming public health and the local ecosystem in Bridgeport while increasing pride in the community by celebrating its beautiful culture and history."


  • Sharon Lewis: Executive Director, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice
  • Deidre Montague: Social Justice and Race Reporter, Hartford Courant
  • Kat Morris: Scholar-Activist for Intersectional Environmental Justice; Founder, Seaside Sounds Club

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Katie is a producer for Connecticut Public Radio's news-talk show 'Where We Live.' She has previously worked for CNN and News 8-WTNH.
Catherine is the Host of Connecticut Public’s morning talk show and podcast, Where We Live. Catherine and the WWL team focus on going beyond the headlines to bring in meaningful conversations that put Connecticut in context.