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What is environmental justice?

Environmental justice (EJ) is 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. Environment justice, as an ideology, emerged in the 1950s as a result of a study that noted the plurality of federal hazardous waste sites in were located in predominantly African American communities. The result is a movement dedicated to not only highlighting these discrepancies but also making a concerted effort to redistribute decision-making power back to the vulnerable communities that are systemically impacted by environmental racism. 

Dig into environmental justice resources below, and learn how you can play a role in dismantling the inequities that exist.


Environmental Justice Resources

Center for American Progress: How the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity Can Respond to the Health Threats of the Climate Crisis

Top medical journals have described the climate crisis as the “greatest threat” to global public health. 


Cities@Tufts: Diversifying Power: Why We Need Antiracist, Feminist Leadership on Climate and Energy

Environmental Justice for All

Environmental Justice—a set of principles and a grassroots-led movement—arose in response to the disproportionate exposure of communities of color and low-income communities to harmful pollution, toxic sites and facilities, and other health and environmental hazards. While these people and communities have known about the hazards they face for a long time, beginning in the early 1980s new research helped document these harms and support action to address them.


Honor the Earth: No Fossil Fuels in the Great Lakes

For over a decade, Honor the Earth has opposed the creation and expansion of fossil fuel pipelines throughout the great lakes and beyond. Learn more about the work being done to protect indigenous lands and our Earth.

Intersectional Environmentalist: Resources

The earth and its ecosystems thrive on diversity and so does climate action. Discover the many ways social justice and environmentalism intersect with the topics and communities you are most passionate about.

NAACP: Environmental & Climate Justice

Environmental and climate justice is a civil rights issue. We all depend on the physical environment and its bounty. Environmental injustice, including the proliferation of climate change, systematically impacts communities of color and low-income communities in the U.S. and around the world.

NRDC: The Environmental Justice Movement

Environmental justice is an important part of the struggle to improve and maintain a clean and healthful environment, especially for those who have traditionally lived, worked and played closest to the sources of pollution.

NRDC: Watered Down Justice

While the Safe Drinking Water Act guarantees all Americans access to clean, drinkable water, it hasn’t worked out that way in practice. NRDC partnered with the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA) and Coming Clean to analyze nationwide violations of the law from 2016 to 2019. 

Sierra Club: People & Justice

Everyone deserves clean water and breathable air—but for many communities access to those basic necessities is compromised by systemic racism and discrimination. The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our millions of members and supporters to defend everyone’s right to a healthy world.

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