What Is Environment Justice

The EPA defined Environmental Justice as “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.”

Based on this definition, the Department of Energy further extend the interpretations “Fair treatment” means “no population bears a disproportionate share of negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or from the execution of federal, state, and local laws” 

“Meaningful involvement” requires “effective access to decision makers for all, and the ability in all communities to make informed decisions and take positive actions to produce environmental justice for themselves.”

To know about Environmental Justice, we need first to understand what is Environmental Injustice. Tracing back to where it came from, we can find the movement of environmental justice addresses a statistical fact: People who experience environmental injustice – who live, work, and play in the most polluted environment – are primarily people of color or people with low incomes. Knowing that there are many intersections between the two groups’ people, the injustice they face was intuitively interpreted as another type of racism – “environmental racism.” 

Most people refer to the very first “EJ” movement back to 1982, when North Carolina had announced a plan to move PCBs contaminated soil to a landfill in Warren County, which was composed of a majority of black population. The protests were elicited and resulted in a series of movements led by both the communities and activists.
But they failed.
The PCBs were ultimately buried in Warren County. However, the whole event initiated a huge wave of environmental justice actions in the following decades. 
Protestors led by Reverend Joseph Lowery march against a proposed toxic waste dump in Warren County, North Carolina, in October 1982.
Bettman/Getty Images

What Can We Do?

Check out a short video about Environmental Justice, made by NRDC
and stay tuned for more INFORMATION on  fighting environmental injustice with MoT!

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