Environmental Justice
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program project in Ovando, MT. credit: USFWS
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program project in Ovando, MT. Credit: USFWS

The exact start of the environmental justice movement in American is not clear.  Local groups have complained about unwanted land used for decades.  Prior to the early eighties, these local protests were considered isolated and protesting communities were complaining by themselves and not associated with other similarly situated in other communities.

This isolated protesting all changed in early 1980s and the environmental justice movement became a national social and racial protest that galvanized communities across country seeking social justice and environmental protection. 

The initial environmental justice spark sprang from a Warren County, NC protest.  In 1982, a small, predominately African-American community was designated to host a hazardous waste landfill.  This landfill would accept PCB-contaminated soil that resulted from illegal dumping of toxic waste along roadways.  After removing the contaminated soil, the state of NC considered a number of potential sites to host the landfill, but ultimately settled on this small African-American community.

In response to the state’s decision, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and others staged a massive protest.  More than 500 protesters were arrested.  While the Warren County protest failed to prevent the siting of the disposal facility, it did provide a national start to the environmental justice movement.

Following the Warren County protest, people in poor minority communities created groups to fight the environmental burdens they claimed:

  • Resulted from being targeted by industry for activities that threaten the environment (e.g., use, storage and disposal of toxic chemicals); and
  • Produced high rates of environmental illness.

Another key event in the history of environmental justice is the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 1991.  Representatives from hundreds of communities across the country came together in Washington, DC to focus national attention on what they perceived as a national problem – targeting minority communities.  This summit was the first attempt to convene a large number of communities together to discuss the common interests and to seek a common solution.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Environmental Justice Report

2011 Environmental Justice Annual Implementation Progress Report - Report Memorandum

Environmental Justice Resource Links

News Release


The Federal Government Response

In 1994, Executive Order 12898 “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Communities.”  The Order directed federal government to make environmental justice a part of the federal decision-making process an integral part of their missions and to establish an environmental justice strategy.  Specially, the Order directed federal agencies to:
  Schoolyard Habitat Project. Credit: LaVonda Walton / USFWS
Schoolyard Habitat Project. Credit: LaVonda Walton / USFWS
  • Make achieving environmental justice part of its mission to the greater extend practical and permitted by law by identifying and addressing high and adverse human health of

  • environmental effects of its programs, policies and activities of minority, low-income and tribal communities.
  • Develop an environmental justice strategy that lists programs, policies, planning and public participation processes, enforcement and/or rulemakings, related to human health of the environment that could be revised to (1) promote enforcement of all heath and environmental statutes in areas with minority populations and low-income populations; (2) ensure greater public participation; (3) improve research and data collection relating to the health of an environment of minority populations and low-income populations; and (4) identify patterns of consumption of natural resources among minority populations.
  • Include the Strategy, where appropriate, a timetable for undertaking identified revisions and consideration of economic and social implications of the revisions.

The U.S. Department of Interior

Department Manual (DM) chapter:  525 DM 1, Environmental Justice Implementation Policy
DOI-EPA Environmental Justice Memorandum of Understanding 2017

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE STRATEGIC PLAN

COVER OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE STRATEGIC PLAN
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ANNUAL IMPLEMENTATION REPORT 2015 APPENDIX A 2014 REPORT
APPENDIX A

COVER OF ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ANNUAL IMPLEMENTATION REPORT 2015
DOI 2013 REPORT
APPENDIX A



COVER OF EJ Implementation Progress Report Cover 2013 REPORT
DOI 2012 REPORT

COVER OF DOI 2012 REPORT

APPENDIX A 2009-2011

COVER OF APPENDIX A 2009-2011
 

EJ Resources:

Federal interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG)
EPA's EJ listserve and blog

Related Links

Working Group on Environmental Justice Stakeholder Meeting Schedule

Enviromental Justice Upcoming Conferences

Obama Administration Convenes Environmental Leaders at Historic White House Environmental Justice Forum Featuring Five Cabinet Secretaries

Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines

U.S. Census Bureau

Environmental Justice Geographic Assessment Tool

National Library of Medicine – Toxic Release Inventory

Socioeconomics

Hunting Statistics and Economics (USFWS)

National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation (US Census)



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