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:
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 Report2011 Environmental Justice Annual Implementation Progress Report - Report Memorandum
Environmental Justice Resource Links
The Federal Government ResponseIn 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:
The U.S. Department of Interior
Department Manual (DM) chapter: 525 DM 1, Environmental Justice Implementation Policy
|THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE STRATEGIC PLAN
||ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ANNUAL IMPLEMENTATION REPORT 2015 APPENDIX A 2014 REPORT
|DOI 2013 REPORT
|DOI 2012 REPORT
||APPENDIX A 2009-2011
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