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Environmental Justice Milestones and Accomplishments: 1964-2014 A Report Prepared in Commemoration of the Twentieth Anniversary of the Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898 Principal Authors Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014

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Abstract

This report is a compilation of several previous reports. In preparation for the four-day Second National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, held in Washington, DC in October 2002, the Environmental Justice Resource Center (EJRC) compiled the Environmental Justice Timeline/Milestones - 1964-2002 report, one of the first comprehensive documents to chronicle accomplishments of the Environmental Justice Movement. The milestones were later updated in the 2007 United Church of Christ Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty – 1987-2007 report and in 2010 in Environmental Health and Racial Equity in the United States: Strategies for Building Environmentally Just, Sustainable, and Liveable Communities (American Public Health Association 2011).
A Report Prepared in Commemoration of the Twentieth Anniversary of the
Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898
Principal Authors
Robert D. Bullard, Ph.D.
Glenn S. Johnson, Ph.D.
Denae W. King, Ph.D.
Angel O. Torres, M.C.P.
Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs
Texas Southern University
FEBRUARY 2014
Environmental Justice Timeline
and Milestones: 1964-2014
February 2014
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
The opinions, conclusions, and recommendations expressed or implied within are solely those
of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation,
Houston Endowment, and United States Climate Action Network that supported this project.
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
ABOUT THE MICKEY LELAND CENTER
The Mickey Leland Center for Environment, Justice and Sustainability at Texas Southern
University conducts research, analyzes policy, and designs innovative program practices and
community initiatives. Its aim is to cultivate a new type of leadership to address the
environmental and health challenges, as well as, be responsive to populations and
communities at greatest risk with the goal of facilitating their inclusion into the mainstream of
environmental decision-making. The Center has four major components: (1) Education and
Training, (2) Research and Policy Analysis, (3) Community Engagement and Technical Support,
and (4) Information Clearinghouse. The Center uses the community-based participatory
research (CBPR) approach and provides a range of technical assistance and support services
on a range of environmental justice, transportation equity, fair/smart growth, and related issues
to at least five low-income and people of color groups.
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Robert D. Bullard is Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas
Southern University in Houston, Texas. He is the author of 18 books. His award-winning book
Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality (Westview Press, 2000), is a standard
text in the environmental justice field. A few of his other related titles include Just Sustainabilities:
Development in an Unequal World (MIT Press, 2003); The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human
Rights and the Politics of Pollution (Sierra Club Books, 2005); Growing Smarter: Achieving Livable
Communities, Environmental Justice, and Regional Equity (MIT Press, 2007); Race, Place and
Environmental Justice After Hurricane Katrina: Struggles to Reclaim, Rebuild, and Revitalize New
Orleans and the Gulf Coast (Westview Press, 2009); Environmental Health and Racial Equity in
the United States: Strategies for Building Environmentally Just, Sustainable, and Liveable
Communities (APHA Press 2011); and The Wrong Complexion for Protection: How the
Government Response to Disasters Endangers African Americans (NYU Press 2012).
Glenn S. Johnson is the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies of the Barbara
Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs and the Interim Director of the Mickey Leland
Center for Environment, Justice and Sustainability at Texas Southern University. He is the co-
editor of Just Transportation: Dismantling Race and Class Barriers to Mobility (New Society
Publishers, 1997), Sprawl City: Race, Politics, and Planning in Atlanta (Island Press, 2000),
Highway Robbery: Transportation Racism & New Routes to Equity (South End Press, 2004), and
Environmental Health and Racial Equity in the United States: Environmental Health and Racial
Equity in the United States: Strategies for Building Environmentally Just, Sustainable, and
Liveable Communities (APHA Press 2011). Johnson received his B.A. degree (1987), M.A. degree
(1991), and Ph.D. degree (1996) in sociology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Denae W. King is a research associate professor and Interim Associate Director of the Mickey
Leland Center for Environment, Justice and Sustainability, at the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland
School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University. She received her B.S. degree in chemistry
(1992) from Texas Southern University, as well as, a M.S. degree (1996) and Ph.D. degree (2001)
in environmental science/toxicology from the University of Texas Health Science Center -
Houston, School of Public Health.
Angel O. Torres is currently an independent researcher, Geographical Information System (GIS)
consultant, and free-lance writer in Atlanta, Georgia. Formerly, he was a Geographic
Information System (GIS) training specialist with the Environmental Justice Resource Center at
Clark Atlanta University. He is the co-editor of Sprawl City: Race, Politics, and Planning in Atlanta
(Island Press, 2000), Highway Robbery: Transportation Racism and New Routes to Equity (South
End Press, 2004), and Environmental Health and Racial Equity in the United States: Building
Environmental Just, Sustainable and Livable Communities (APHA Press, 2011). Torres received his
BS degree (1993) in mathematics from Clark Atlanta University and his Masters of City Planning
(MCP) degree (1995) from Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This report is a compilation of several previous reports. In preparation for the four-day Second
National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, held in Washington, DC in October
2002, the Environmental Justice Resource Center (EJRC) compiled the Environmental Justice
Timeline/Milestones - 1964-2002 report, one of the first comprehensive documents to chronicle
accomplishments of the Environmental Justice Movement. The milestones were later updated
in the 2007 United Church of Christ Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty 1987-2007 report and in
2010 in Environmental Health and Racial Equity in the United States: Strategies for Building
Environmentally Just, Sustainable, and Liveable Communities (American Public Health
Association 2011).
February 11, 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the historic Environmental Justice Executive
Order 12898 "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-
Income Populations" signed by President Clinton. This report was prepared and released as part
of the 20-year commemoration.
This Executive Order attempted to address environmental injustice within existing federal laws
and regulations. It also reinforced the Civil Rights Act of 1964 signed by President Lyndon B.
Johnson on July 2, 1964, nearly five decades ago. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act has special
significance to environmental justice in that it prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color,
or national origin in all programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. Title VI itself
prohibits intentional discrimination. The Environmental Justice timeline in this report begins in
1964, timed with the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
The Executive Order also incorporated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a 1969
law that set policy goals for the protection, maintenance and enhancement of the
environment. NEPA's goal is to ensure for all Americans a safe, healthful, productive and
aesthetically and culturally pleasing environment. It called for improved methodologies for
assessing and mitigating impacts, health effects from multiple and cumulative exposure,
collection of data on low-income and minority populations who may be disproportionately at
risk, and impacts on subsistence fishers and consumers of wild game. It also encouraged
participation of the impacted populations in the various phases of assessing impacts, including
scoping, data gathering, alternatives, analysis, mitigation and monitoring.
The EJ Executive Order after twenty years and three U.S. presidents has never been fully
implemented. It was signed in 1994 on the second day of the National Institute for
Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) "Health and Research Needs to Ensure Environmental
Justice" in Arlington, VA. And after lying dormant for nearly a decade under the George W.
Bush administration, the EJ Executive Order received some new life in 2010 under the Obama
administrationwith the reinvigoration of the Interagency Working Group (IWG) that called for
updating more than a dozen agencies' EJ strategic plans and Plan EJ 2014, a roadmap that will
help EPA integrate environmental justice into its programs, policies, and activities. The goals of
the plan are to: Protect health in communities over-burdened by pollution; empower
communities to take action to improve their health and environment; and establish partnerships
with local, state, tribal and federal organizations to achieve healthy and sustainable
communities.
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
During its 44-year history, the U.S. EPA has not always recognized that many government and
industry practices (whether intended or unintended) have adversely and disproportionately
impacted poor people and people of color. It took an entire movement and decades for the
government to acknowledge this fact and three decades to begin implementing equal
protection and dismantling institutional racism. The EPA is mandated to enforce the nation’s
environmental laws and regulations equally across the board. It is required to protect all
Americansnot just individuals or communities who have money to hire lawyers, lobbyists,
scientists, and experts. The right to health and a clean environment is a basic human right.
The nation is not color blind even though Barack Obama was elected as the country’s 44th
president and Lisa P. Jackson was appointed as administrator of the U.S. EPA, the first African
Americans to hold these offices. Because of the persistent challenges created by
institutionalized racism, environmental justice advocates continue to employ a racial equity
lensapplied to public health, exposure to harmful chemicals, pesticides, toxins in the homes,
schools, neighborhoods, and workplace, faulty assumptions in calculating, assessing, and
managing risks, zoning and land-use practices, and exclusionary policies and practices that
limit participation in decision making. Many of these problems could be eliminated if the
existing environmental, health, housing, transportation, land use, and civil rights laws were
vigorously enforced in a nondiscriminatory way.
In 1994, only four states (Louisiana, Connecticut, Virginia, and Texas) had a law or an executive
order on environmental justice. Twenty years later, all 50 states and the District of Columbia
have instituted some type of environmental justice law, executive order, or policy, indicating
that the area of environmental justice continues to grow and mature. However, we know all
states and their environmental justice laws are “not created equal.”
The last two decades have seen environmental justice become a household word. Out of the
small and seemingly isolated environmental struggles, emerged a potent grassroots community
driven movement. Many of the on-the-ground environmental struggles in the new millennium
have seen the quest for environmental and economic justice become a unifying theme across
race, class, gender, age, and geographic lines. Nevertheless, there are still individuals, even
some in the U.S. Congress, who still refuse to acknowledge the fact the country has an
environmental injustice problem that needs attention and action.
After more than two decades of intense study, targeted research, public hearings, grassroots
organizing, networking, and movement building, environmental justice struggles have taken
center stage. Yet, all communities are still not created equal. Where you live can impact your
health and quality of life. Zip code is still the most potent predictor of health. Some
neighborhoods, communities, and regions have become the dumping grounds for all kinds of
toxins. Today, too many low-wealth and people of color communities have too few residential
amenities such sidewalks, bike lanes, parks and green space, full-service grocery stores,
accessible public transit, health care, and quality schools.
Some progress has been made in mainstreaming environmental protection as a civil rights and
social justice issue. We now see an increasing number of community-based groups,
environmental justice networks, environmental and conservation groups, legal groups, faith-
based groups, labor, academic institutions and youth organizations teaming up on
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
environmental justice and health issues that differentially impact poor people and people of
color. Many of these groups have adopted a racial equity lens to analyze and frame the issues,
mobilize constituents, shape public policy, and craft legislation and legal strategies to dismantle
institutionalized barriers to opportunity, including environmental racism.
Environmental racism and environmental justice panels have become “hot” topics at national
conferences and forums sponsored by law schools, bar associations, public health groups,
scientific societies, professional meetings, and university lecture series. In just a short time,
environmental justice advocates have had a profound impact on public policy, industry
practices, national conferences, private foundation funding, and community-based
participatory research (CBPR) where community and “expert” are equal partners.
Environmental justice research, writing, and publications have flourished over the past two
decades. Today, there is a rich body of work that supports an array of disciplines from the
social and behavioral sciences to physical sciences to law and legal studies. Environmental
justice courses and curricula can be found at nearly every college and university across the
country. It is now possible for students to receive a baccalaureate and advanced degree in
environmental justice. Similarly, environmental justice is now an acceptable discipline whereas
college and university professors can select as a major research concentration, and receive
tenure and promotion.
Environmental justice groups have been successful in blocking numerous permits for new
polluting facilities and forced government and private industry buyout and relocation of several
communities impacted by Superfund sites and industrial pollution. Environmental justice and
health equity concepts and principles are making their way into initiatives that are moving the
nation toward a “green economy,” green buildings and healthy schools, clean and renewable
energy, smart growth, and just climate policies.
Although permitting and facility siting still dominate state environmental justice programs, a
growing number of states are beginning to use land use planning techniques, such as buffer
zones, to improve environmental conditions, reduce potential health threats, and prevent
environmental degradation in at-risk communities. States are also incorporating environmental
justice in their brownfields, Supplemental Environmental Projects, and climate policies. Some
states rely on enforcement procedures in environmentally burdened communities, while other
states use grants and community education.
Movement Building
Clearly, a lot has happened in twenty years since those of us who were summoned to the White
House to witness the signing of Executive Order 12898 on that cold snowy day in February. We
have made progress, but much more work still remains. The last two decades have seen some
positive change in the way environmental groups in the United States relate to each other
around health, environment, economic, and racial justice. An increasing number of
community-based groups, networks, university-based centers, environmental and conservation
groups, legal groups, faith-based groups, labor, and youth organizations have formed
partnerships and collaboratives to address environmental and health issues that differentially
impact poor people, people of color, and children. The number of people of color
environmental groups has grown from 300 groups in 1992 to more than 3,000 groups and a
dozen networks in 2014.
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
Research and Policy Advancements
Because of research, policy work and grassroots mobilization, we know much more today than
we did two decades ago. From 1990-1993, Dumping in Dixie topped the list of only a half dozen
environmental justice books in print. In 1994, five additional environmental justice books were
added to the list. Environmental justice research, writing, and publications have flourished over
the years. Today, there are hundreds of environmental justice books covering a wide range of
disciplines spanning the globe. Environmental justice courses and curricula can be found at
nearly every college and university in the U.S. This was not always the case.
Despite this progress, frontline communities and their leaders are demanding that
environmental justice be made a centerpiece in closing the gap in climate action plans,
energy policies, transportation initiatives, and disaster management which still leave too many
low-wealth communities and people of color behind.
Expanding the “Pipeline” of New Leaders
Community-based organizations play an important role in providing a space and training
ground for growing youth leaders. The key to a successful movement rests with how effective
organizations and institutions solve “pipeline” challenges. An expanding “pipeline” of diverse
scholars, scientists, researchers, policy analysts, and community leaders is leading on
environmental justice, including climate change and vulnerable communities. Much more is
needed. Not surprising, resources continue to be a major barrier to building, supporting, and
sustaining strong national youth and student leadership across various environmental and
climate justice and health equity movements that uses a racial equity lens.
Bringing young people into the movement to address environmental and climate justice, health
equity and racial justice at every level, from activists to analysts to academics, can only
strengthen the movementand make us a stronger and fairer nation. Today, much of the
youth work takes place within an intergenerational form (community-based organizations,
networks, centers, legal clinics that have a youth focus or youth component) and youth-led
form (organizations founded by and led by youth), are important and complementary.
University-Based Centers and Academic Programs
University-based centers and academic programs serve as important venues to train, educate,
and mentor students, faculty, and researchers in the environmental justice, health, and racial
equity fields. In 1990, there was not a single university-based environmental justice center or a
program that offered a degree in environmental justice. In 1994, there were just four university-
based environmental justice centers. It is no accident that all of these early environmental
justice centers were located at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Today, there
are dozens of university-based environmental justice centers and 22 legal clinics that list
environmental justice as a core area, and six academic programs that grant degrees in
environmental justice, including one legal program.
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
National Awards, Honors and Recognition
The Environmental Justice Movement has seeded a number of social movements that use a
racial equity lens, including healthy homes, reproductive justice, transportation equity, smart
growth, regional equity, parks justice and green access, green jobs, food justice, and climate
justice. Prior to 1994, only a couple of EJ leaders had won national recognition and
environmental awards for their work. In the past two decades, more than two-dozen
environmental justice leaders have won prestigious national awards, including the Heinz Award,
Goldman Prize, MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing
World Award, Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leaders Award, and others. For
example, Hilton Kelly, who directs Community In-power and Development Association (CIDA),
won the 2013 Goldman Prize for his environmental justice work in addressing pollution near oil
refineries in Port Arthur, Texas. And in 2014, Kimberly Wasserman Nieto of the Little Village
Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) won the Goldman Prize for her collaborative work in
shutting down the Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Chicago.
Funding Challenges
The number of foundations that have funded designated environmental justice programs has
been shrinking since the 2002 Environmental Justice Summit. However, there are hopeful signs
from a number of foundations that are funding multidisciplinary work that intersects
environment, health, and racial equity. Much of this funding is filtered through portfolios of smart
growth, transportation equity, clean and renewable energy, green jobs, chemical policy
reform, green chemistry, green products, parks and green access, green buildings, healthy
schools, food security and food justice, sustainable agriculture, sustainable communities,
equitable development, brownfields redevelopment, worker training, worker safety, health
disparities, reproductive health and justice, immigrants rights, human rights, disaster response,
regionalism and regional equity, climate change, and climate justice, all of which fall under the
broad category of environmental justice.
Strategic foundation support has enabled the success of the Environmental Justice
Movement. Yet, the movement is still under-funded after three decades of proven work. This is
true for private foundation and government funding. Overall, foundation and government
funding support for environmental justice has been piecemeal. Environmental funders spent a
whopping $10 billion between 2000 and 2009. However, just 15 percent of the environmental
grant dollars benefitted marginalized communities, and only 11 percent went to advancing
"social justice" causes, such as community organizing.
Government funding of environmental justice has been spotty and unpredictable. Funding has
come primarily from two federal agenciesthe Environmental Protection Agency and the
National Institute for Environmental Health Sciencestwo federal agencies that community
leaders established working relationships with in the early 1990s. Relationships matter in the
funding world. Economic recessions in the 2000s combined shrinking foundations portfolios and
government cutbacks over the years hit environmental and other social justice organizations
especially hardactions that heightened inequality.
Overall, constrained funding has made it difficult for building organizational infrastructure,
community organizing, leadership development and participating effectively in the policy
arena. Clearly, much more is needed to ensure that all Americans enjoy healthy, livable and
sustainable communities.
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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE EXECUTIVE ORDER
AFTER TWENTY YEARS AND THREE U.S. PRESIDENTS
The Environmental Justice Executive Order has survived three U.S. presidents (Bill Clinton,
George W. Bush and Barrack Obama). The vast majority of environmental justice leaders two
decades ago preferred to have environmental justice codified in law. However, that did not
happen. As part of the commemoration, reactions were solicited from leaders representing
diverse stakeholder groups from activists to academics. We asked the following question:
“What is the state of the Environmental Justice Executive Order and the Environmental Justice
Movement?” The responses are presented in the following section.
Voices from the Frontline
The focus of the environmental justice movement is now just and sustainable development. This
means using our unlimited mental and creative resources, not our limited natural resources. If
this is true, as I believe it to be, then we need to develop more constructive ways to unleash
these phenomenal mental and creative resources in our communities, and quickly. Currently, in
the US and around the globe we waste human potential as wantonly and comprehensively as
we lay waste to our environmental potential, and this is no surprise, as both actions are directly
related. We need to understand that while there is growing human inequality, there will never
be environmental quality. (Julian Agyeman, Ph.D., FRSA, Department of Urban and
Environmental and Policy Planning, Tufts University, Medford, MA)
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has promoted environmental justice for
many years. The most recent example of its work in this area grew out of a request from fair
housing advocates in Texas who are monitoring implementation of a disaster recovery program
funded by HUD. They reached out to the Lawyers’ Committee for assistance in appraising
housing proposals in Port Arthur TX to replace low income, predominantly African American
public housing projects which abutted an area with dozens of petrochemical refineries that
had steadily expanded over the years to become the largest concentration of refineries in the
country. Indeed, in 2009, Port Arthur was named an “Environmental Showcase Community” by
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) which concluded that relocation of the
residents of low income predominantly African-American public housing projects damaged by
Hurricane Ike should be a high priority because of the environmental dangers posed by the
refineries. Working with the organizations that are monitoring the disaster recovery program, the
Lawyers’ Committee is providing legal assistance to ensure replacement housing is
environmentally safe. (Barbara Arnwine, President and Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee
for Civil Rights Under Law, Washington, DC)
While there has been some progress in environmental justice, much remains to be done. The
federal legal foundation is still very weak, based as it is on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin, by recipients of
federal financial assistance. There are almost no federal discrimination protections on the basis
of low income, which the EJ Executive Order addresses. There needs to be a statutory basis for
EJ protections, which includes low income. (Marc Brenman, The Evergreen State College,
Olympia, Washington)
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
The Executive Order on EJ is a sham. The only thing the EO has produced is jobs for the people
at these federal agencies tasked to create the illusion that they are working to achieve
environmental justice. I have witnessed heartless and clueless representatives of federal
agencies visit hardcore EJ communities and board their plane back to DC untouched,
unmoved and, despite numerous attempts on our part, were never heard from again. I have
witnessed good people at federal agencies that wanted to truly help. But, before they could
do anything significant they were removed from their position, or lost their job. The only ones
celebrating the 20th anniversary of the EO is the federal government for succeeding to put on
the biggest fraud and sin against EJ communities everywhere. (Suzie Canales, Executive
Director, Citizens for Environmental Justice, Corpus Christi, TX)
Here in Oregon, our legislature passed a law requiring all natural resource agencies to include
EJ in their official actions, and created the EJ Task force to report on whether they do so.
Without E.O. 12898, environmentalists do not recognize EJ. Without E.O. 12898, sustainability
advocates do not include equity. There is a color line between environmentalism, sustainability
and environmental justice -- and the color of that line is not green. E.O. 12898 is an essential
foundation for recognizing the single, unified nature of these struggles. I was the founding chair
of the Oregon EJ Task force. (Robin Morris Collin, Norma J. Paulus Professor of Law and Director
of the Certificate Program in Sustainability, Willamette University, Salem, OR)
The most immediate mission of the EJ movement is to dismantle the mechanisms by which
capital and the state disproportionately displace ecological hazards onto poorer communities
and people of color. One of the movement’s most important accomplishments has
been President Clinton's Executive Order (12898) on Environmental Justice. Despite bringing
some substantial improvements to many communities, however, the Executive Order is primarily
about "identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human
health or environmental effects of their programs, policies and activities on minority populations
and low income populations" rather than eliminating the root causes of such ecological
hazards. But the struggle for environmental justice is not just about distributing environmental
risks equally but about preventing them from being produced in the first place so that no one is
harmed at all. What is now needed for the 21st Century is a richer conception of environmental
justice oriented toward a major transformation of the U.S. (and global) economy. Such a
conception includes the phase-out of toxic chemicals and fossil fuels in favor of clean
production and energy systems, efficient public transportation, affordable housing and vibrant
communities, green jobs and full employment at a living wage, and more precautionary and
sustainable approaches to environmental policy. In this sense, the Executive Order is a
necessary ingredient but in-and-of-itself insufficient for achieving true environmental justice. The
challenge confronting the EJ movement is to help forge a truly broad-based, multi-issue, multi-
movement approach which emphasizes social and eco-justice for all Americans and people
around the world…both present and future generations. (Daniel Faber, Ph.D., Director,
Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative Northeastern University, Boston, MA)
Twenty years ago President Clinton authorized the federal government to address
environmental justice in its programs and policies. President Obama renewed that authority
when he came into office. While Clinton's Executive Order and Obama's reauthorization
provide a framework for addressing environmental injustice, that framework has not resulted in
concrete changes in environmental justice communities. Rather, it is the communities
themselves working together as part of the environmental justice movement that have brought
about the pollution reductions, clean green jobs, sustainable community plans, and
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
environmental benefits that communities experience. The federal government has much more
to do to catch up to progress communities have made and to follow through on its comment
to environmental justice. (Caroline Farrell, Executive Director, Center on Race, Poverty & the
Environment, Delano, CA)
The Executive Order’s longevity is a major landmark. After 20 years, environmental justice is a
familiar phrase in the nation’s capital, the fifty states and around the world. Community
advocates achieved this milestone but their fight for it at home goes on. Now, we need
legislation that fills the gaps and a Marshall Plan that ensures clean, healthy and prosperous
neighborhoods for everyone. (Deeohn Ferris, J.D., President, Sustainable Community
Development Group, Washington, DC)
The EJ movement has been the conscience of the environmental movement. The EJ movement
has been about making a way when there has been no way. Through the unceasing activism
of affected communities and stalwart supporters of these communities, the EO 12898 has been
utilized to move federal (and other) stakeholders to make EJ central to their decision-making.
Much more work needs to be done by the other agencies in the Interagency Working Group
(IWG) on EJ. Hopefully, this anniversary will spark a greater commitment by the other agencies
in the IWG to comply with the EO 12898. Congratulations, on this anniversary, to all the EJ
activists and supporters who have seriously struggled with making the EO 12898 work within the
agencies and for the affected communities. (Leslie Fields, National Environmental Justice
Director Sierra Club, Washington, DC)
It has been twenty years since President Bill Clinton issued his executive order on environmental
justice. The executive order itself reflected the growing strength of a movement centered
among the poorest and most racially unequal communities in the nation. Regrettably, little has
changed with regard to the practices of the federal government since the order was
issued. Nevertheless, the environmental justice movement has achieved remarkable successes
at the local and regional level mobilizing hundreds of thousands of people to close coal fired
power plants, to stop oil refinery projects, to expand clean energy infrastructure, to expand
green space, urban gardens, and sustainable agriculture, to safeguard and expand public
transportation. Most importantly, they have enhanced US democracy, but creating spaces
where those most affected by pollution, toxic emissions, and climate change impacts can have
their voices heard in a meaningful way. This is the incredible foundation on which the
environmental justice movement will continue in its efforts to protect the health of our children
and our communities, to address the systemic inequality that continues to plague our country,
and ultimately to save our planet. It is my hope that President Obama will give new meaning to
the Executive Order in his final years in office, by ordering its effective implementation in all
federal departments. Si Se Puede! (Bill Gallegos, Executive Director, Communities for a Better
Environment, Oakland, CA).
The President's Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice is greening Los Angeles. Federal
agencies are not just talking about the EJ Executive Order, they are taking action. The National
Park Service recognizes there are unfair disparities in park access for people who are of color or
low-income people, that these disparities hurt human health, and that park agencies need to
promote equal access to parks and active living for all, citing the EJ Order. NPS has published a
strategic action plan, and a science plan, for Healthy Parks, Healthy People. NPS recommends
new national recreation area lands in the San Gabriel Mountains and Valley to promote
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
environmental justice and health. The Army Corps of Engineers proposes greening the Los
Angeles River to promote environmental justice and health, citing the EJ Order.
Andrew Cuomo, who was then Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban
Development, withheld federal funding for a proposed warehouse project in the heart of
downtown Los Angeles unless there was full environmental review that considered the park
alternative and the impact on people who were of color or low income. Secretary Cuomo
cited the EJ Order and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, acting in response to an
administrative complaint filed by diverse allies. The site could have been warehouses. Instead,
today it's the Los Angeles State Historic Park. Attorneys, activists, and agencies are working
together for healthy green land use, equitable development, and planning by and for the
community under the EJ Order. Let's do it! (Robert Garcia, Founding Director and Counsel, The
City Project, Los Angeles, CA)
The Environmental Justice Movement in the United States included the voices of American
Indian and Alaska Native nations and their grassroots indigenous communities and families to
stand fast in defense of the vital life cycles of Mother Earth. After twenty years since the EJ
Executive Order 12898, with the perseverance of tribal governments and Native environmental
organizations, “Indian” policy in environmental protection, public health, protection of sacred
areas and conservation of natural resources within indigenous lands and territories were
strengthen and further developed. The link between environmental justice, treaty rights with a
rights-based approach in organizing; applied along with the demand for the U.S. to fulfill its
fiduciary and trust responsibilities to federally recognized tribes to build their tribal infrastructure
for environmental protection was the broad voice of victory of many Native Nations. The twenty
years of the Native-based environmental justice movement was largely led by grassroots
Indigenous peoples with many victories, but remaining challenges in the crosscutting issues of
continued struggles for energy and climate justice; food sovereignty; water rights; economic
justice and for the full implementation by the U.S. of the United Nations Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The next twenty years, we must link social and environmental
struggles, bring together rural and urban communities, and combine local and global initiatives
so that we can unite together in a common struggle. We must use all diverse forms of
resistance. We must build a movement that is based on the daily life of people that guarantees
democracy at all stages of societies. (Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous
Environmental Network, Bemidji, MN)
The EJ Executive Order helped focus agency and public attention on the incidence of race-
based environmental inequality, and provided greater basis for redress of the most egregious
cases of environmental racism. However, it is important to remember that capitalist economies
are predicated on the distribution of social goods and bads by wealth. Just as housing, food,
and higher education, environmental hazards and amenities are, and will continue to be,
distributed by economic class. And as long as class remains correlated with race,
environmental hazards will continue to be distributed disproportionately to people of color. The
EJ Executive Order was an important milestone on what will be a very long road to
environmental justice. (Kenneth Gould, Ph.D.., Professor of Sociology, Brooklyn College-CUNY,
Professor of Sociology and Earth and Environmental Sciences, CUNY Graduate Center, Brooklyn,
NY)
In 1994, when President Bill Clinton signed EJ Executive Order 12898 many of the grassroots
activists felt ‘environmental justice’ (EJ) was finally being recognized and substantive actions
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
would be taken to clean up communities and relieve suffering caused by environmental insults
of various kinds. Executive Order 12898 paved the way for justice but didn’t guarantee it.
Undoing past wrongs, such as cleaning up dumpsites, changing siting habits, and changing lax
rules and regulations to better protect communities, in many cases hasn’t happened.
Environmental Justice has been steered by the political tide over the tenure of the past three
Presidents while many state and local authorities continue to dig their heels in even deeper to
avoid adequately addressing EJ issues. Even though some states have so-called EJ staff, they
have not worked to sufficiently alleviate suffering and bring about justice in struggling
communities. We lost a great deal of momentum for EJ during the Bush Administration, which
made the states bristle against effectively addressing EJ even more. During the Obama
Administration, we are trying to regain the momentum we once had, and try to move more
aggressively to work on a backlog of EJ issues. However, even in the Obama administration the
rise of the Tea Party is working to hinder EJ activities, block the strengthening of environmental
laws, and strike against any efforts toward sustainability and/or environmental justice. Our
efforts need to be re-doubled. (Rita Harris, Sierra Club EJ Program, Memphis, TN)
The Executive Order on EJ was an historic act that helped to awaken the consciousness of our
federal government to the long-standing suffering in low-income communities and communities
of color across the country facing environmental racism and economic injustice. Unfortunately,
twenty years later we still have communities across the country that are unnecessarily exposed
to toxic pollution that threatens their health and quality of life. Many of these communities also
lack basic environmental benefits too like a healthy home free of toxins, access to open spaces
like parks, the availability of healthy foods, and safe and affordable public transportation. So on
this anniversary, our collective struggle for justice continues and our voices grow louder and
stronger. (Al Huang, Senior Attorney and Director of Environmental Justice, Natural Resources
Defense Council, New York, NY)
Even now 20 years after the signing of the 'Environmental Justice Executive Order', communities
in Louisiana's Cancer Alley are still fighting for justice and a safe future for their communities.
(Daryl Malek-Wiley, Sierra Club Environmental Justice & Community Partnership Program, New
Orleans, LA)
As a relatively new EJ community activist and advocate, I am so impressed and grateful to
those who have blazed the trail over the past twenty years --- you've set an awfully high
standard for us new comers! As we all share in the joy of this well-deserved celebration, may
we be committed to utilizing all of the accomplishments to inspire and empower our work in the
days ahead. Special thanks to all of our courageous, hard-working, committed EJ pioneers.
(Margaret J. May, Executive Director, Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council, Kansas City, MO)
The President’s 1994 Environmental Justice Executive Order is the high water mark in federal
policy making regarding Environmental Justice in the U.S. It is also a testament to the rapid rise,
potency, and enduring nature of the Environmental Justice movement. The Executive Order is
indeed the culmination of the progression of potent and rapidly unfolding events. From the 1982
Warren County, North Carolina, protests, to the 1987 United Church of Christ report, Toxic
Wastes and Race in the United States, to Robert Bullard’s 1990 book, Dumping in Dixie, to the
1990 Michigan Conference, to the 1991 National People of Color Environmental Leadership
Summit that produced the 17 Principle of Environmental Justice, to Bunyan Bryant and Paul
Mohai’s 1992 book, Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards, to the U.S. EPA’s 1992
report, Environmental Equity: Reducing Risks for All Communities, to the 1994 Executive Order, a
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
high water mark was achieved within a twelve-year span and has endured as the foundation of
Environmental Justice Policy in America under three Presidential Administrations. (Paul Mohai,
Ph.D., School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI)
The 20th Anniversary of the Executive Order highlights how profoundly the environmental justice
movement has transformed the face of U.S. environmentalism. As we look toward the future to
address monumental environmental challenges like climate change, environmental justice
activism must continue to reshape and connect the broader agendas of sustainability and
social equity. (Rachel Morello-Frosch, Ph.D., M.P.H., Professor, Director Doctor of Public Health
Program, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management & School of Public
Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA)
Hope Diminished, the Executive Order on Environmental Justice12898 initially resonated among
Environmental Justice Organizations, People of Color, and low-income communities as a sign of
Hope and Justice for communities over-burden with environmental toxins and disproportionally
impacted by polluters. Sadly, the EO pits Low-income communities, People of Color, with little to
no resources against Corporate America; with the EPA taking a mediator position, in which
case, the low-income communities and People Color are left to take on challenges beyond
their immediate capacities, in terms of resources, technical support, scientific evidence, legal
representation, and time. It is often a battle of divine hope and intervention from above that
keeps the struggle a live. Environmental Justice communities deserve a level playing field for the
insurmountable obstacles facing their daily lives. (Juan Parras, Executive Director, Texas
Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, Houston, Texas)
The issuance of the Executive Order in 1994 reflected the culmination of organizing, raising
awareness, and breaking through to policymakers. But it really just set the stage for the next
twenty years of work that has followed. Progress has been slow but steady and our goals
keep moving. In California, for example, EJ groups have certainly tackled disparate exposures
to hazards and poor air but they have also moved the needle on such cutting edge issues as
transit equity, access to parks, and the very nature of the state’s response to climate change.
And it is the recipe that brought us the Executive Order in the first place strong community
organizing, a solid base of research, and a sophisticated ability to play the inside and outside
games that will allow the environmental justice movement to continue to meet the challenges
ahead. (Manuel Pastor, Ph.D., Professor, Sociology/American Studies & Ethnicity, Director,
Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, Director, Center for the Study of Immigrant
Integration, Los Angeles, CA)
This year we celebrate one of the EJ movement's many proud achievements. We must also
recognize that there is much more work to be done. I am eternally grateful for the leaders who
have built this great movement and I join them with enthusiasm and renewed hope and
commitment as they continue to move us forward. (David N. Pellow, University of Minnesota,
Minnesota Global Justice Project, Minneapolis, MN)
President Clinton's Executive Order on environmental justice was a handful of words that
launched a thousand ships: federal and state agencies scrambled to figure out how to address
it, polluters had a new uncertainty in their forward planning, and communities of color had a
new tool with which to seek to gain redress against exposure to hazards. And yet to this day the
executive order's potential to bring environmental justice is still far from being realized. Twenty
years on, it's time for government and society to rededicate themselves to achieving
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
environmental justice, locally, nationally, and globally. (J. Timmons Roberts, Ph.D., Ittleson
Professor of Environmental Studies and Sociology Brown University, Providence, RI)
The many communities I serve are hoping to have the process result in strong policy guidance,
standards and recommendations that can be enforced. Environmental justice communities
are tired of being ‘sacrifice zones’ or ‘kill zones’ where the air, water and community are not
protected. President Obama recognized this problem in his State of the Union and promised to
do more to protect communities. (Michelle Roberts, Co-Coordinator, Environmental Justice &
Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, Washington, DC)
The Obama Executive Order on Environmental Justice reiterates the mandates of the first
Clinton Executive Order and implies that environmental impacts and exposures on communities
of color and low income are of critical concern. However, it represents a lost opportunity to
have assessed the effectiveness of the prior order and to provide a stronger mandate for
achieving, evaluating, and reporting progress by federal agencies on achieving environmental
justice in the most vulnerable communities. It reveals a lack of vision for how those localities that
bear a disparate burden of industrial pollution and our consumerism, can achieve the goal of
healthy, sustainable, livable communities in which we live, work, play, pray and go to school.
That goal is at the heart of our democracy and of the American Dream. (Peggy M. Shepard,
Executive Director, Co-Founder, WE ACT For Environmental Justice, Heinz Award Recipient, New
York, NY)
The signing of the EJ Executive Order marked a moment in time when the federal government
signaled that social inequalities arising from environmental decision-making could no longer be
ignored. The Executive Order was a triumph for activists who worked tirelessly to make their
concerns about environmental impacts in their communities known and considered in the
policy-making process. Despite limits on what can be achieved with an Executive Order, the EJ
Executive Order fundamentally changed the way in which people thought about the
environment in low-income and minority communities. (Dorceta E. Taylor, Ph.D., University of
Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment, Professor, Environmental Justice Field
of Studies Coordinator, Ann Arbor, MI)
I can clearly remember that day in Washington, DC, when we finished the proposal to present
to President Clinton. It all came down to the Power of the Pen, after hours of drafting and
redrafting the language, it all came down to the President when he placed his signature on
Executive Order 12898. This was an historical moment captured in time that has helped
changed the course of history in out fight for Environmental Justice through the “Power of the
Pen.” (Rev. Charles N. Utley, Community Organizer and Campaign Coordinator, Blue Ridge
Environmental Defense League/Hyde Park Improvement Committee, Augusta, GA)
It’s hard to believe that the Environmental Justice Executive Order is reaching its 20th year. As a
community that started organizing itself to protect its children from environmental exposures at
a local school, we did know that what we were fighting for was environmental justice. The
Executive Order and Principles allowed our community to build their vision for our community.
This vision included shutting down the dirty coal power plants in Chicago, demanding the
clean-up of a Superfund site in our community and better public transit options. In 2012, we won
the shutdown of the plants, building of a new park on the capped superfund site and
implementation of a new bus line. While these campaigns were long, it shows the power of
organizing for environmentally just communities. (Kimberly Wasserman, North American
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
Goldman Prize Recipient, Community Trainer, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization,
Chicago, IL)
As I reflect, it is significant to note that it has been twenty years since the signing of the
Environmental Justice Executive Order. Since that time, on the one hand, much has changed;
and then on the other, nothing has changed. The Executive Order brought serious attention to
the disproportionate exposure of minority and poor communities to environmental
pollution. That order triggered a response from federal agencies, by charging them to include
environmental justice as a part of their missions. In addition, it created a mechanism for working
together to address environmental justice issues through inter-agency working group (IWG). The
executive order raised the importance of protecting the environmental health of minorities and
the poor to the highest level in our government the office of the President. Since that time,
there has been an explosion within the research community, creating a huge body of literature
and developing a unique field of study we have come to know as Environmental Justice; while
turning the pursuit of its study and addressing its issues into the EJ Movement. The executive
order made environmental justice a legitimate parameter within our government and resulted
in the development of a structure and the creation of a process from within government to
provide resources to agencies to address “disproportionately high and adverse human health
or environmental effects on minority and low income populations.” We still have a long way to
go. (Beverly Wright, Ph.D., Executive Director, Dillard University, Deep South Center for
Environmental Justice at Xavier University, Heinz Award Recipient, New Orleans, LA)
As a member of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, UPROSE benefits locally from the
technical/policy expertise and organizing support of our citywide collective. In Sunset Park,
Brooklyn, our EJ work began by organizing to stop the onslaught of environmental burdens
hoisted onto the lungs of our loved ones, but during the journey we successfully doubled the
amount of open space, stopped the siting of power plants, made avenues pedestrian friendly,
increased surface transit, retro-fitted diesel trucks, planted hundreds of trees, helped pass
legislation addressing Brownfields, Solid Waste and Power Plants, got our young people into
college and graduate school and built an intergenerational movement committed to
addressing climate change and community resiliency- the work continues. (Elizabeth C.
Yeampierre, Esq., Executive Director, UPROSE, Brooklyn, NY)
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
A TWENTY-POINT PLAN FOR ADVANCING ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
As the nation grows smarter, greener, and sustainable, we also need to become more just to
address longstanding disparities and inequalities. There are no silver-bullet solutions to these
challenges. Nevertheless, there are some concrete action steps that can be taken to build,
strengthen and support the Environmental Justice Movement going forward.
Strategy 1: Support efforts of the larger Environmental Justice Movement and its member
organizations to “re-invent” themselves, refine their message, and articulate a proactive vision.
Environmental justice organizations, networks, and university-based centers and programs need
to better articulate their broad and diverse scope of work that falls under the environmental
justice umbrella. Reinvention alone is not enough as long as institutionalized racism remains
ingrained in the fabric of American society. Unfortunately, the Environmental Justice
Movement and individual environmental justice organizations in the 21st century must still
combat artificial barriers that block opportunity.
Strategy 2: Assist organizations build economically vibrant and socially just communities with
emphasis on health and well-being of families and children. Build networks, partnerships, and
collaboratives that create trusting and nurturing relationships. Influence public policies that
support safe, healthy, sustainable, and socially-just communities. Support launching initiatives to
clean up and redevelop degraded and vacant land exemplified by the following: use
economic incentives to attract clean technology businesses; support job training and retraining
the workforce that develops and produces “green jobs” for clean technologies; use zoning
ordinances and other land-use tools to ensure healthy housing, adequate green space, and
access to healthy foods and quality health care; and support transportation equity that ensures
efficient and health-enhancing transit, safe biking, and walking routes.
Strategy 3: Support programs and strategies that strengthen the capacity of organizations to
analyze and solve place-focused problems at the national, regional, statewide, and local
community level. Nongovernmental organizations need support to grow a movement and
leaders that emphasize solution-oriented, place-based strategies and approaches such as
“Sustainable Development Zones,” “Green Impact Zones,” and “Health Impact Zones” to
transform dying, redlined, and burdened neighborhoods into thriving centers of social
connection, economic activity, and health-enhancing environments.
Strategy 4: Foster strong collaborations, alliances, and multigenerational networking. Assist with
multi-generational, multidisciplinary, cross-issue collaboration, networking, and training
opportunities for young people and emerging leaders who are transitioning to greater
leadership roles. Broaden support for organizations that are in the process of leadership
transition and expansion and collaborate with organizations to access organizational
development consultants, researchers, scientists, educators, health professionals, and other
“experts” with specialized training.
Strategy 5: Support youth and student work that intersects with a broad range of organizing
areas across the broader environmental, health, and racial equity fields. Investing in youth and
student organizing around environment, health, and racial equity provides an opportunity to
connect youth leadership and young people to the broader goals of social change. Every
successful social movement in the U.S. has had an active and informed youth and student
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
component. Community-based organizations and university-based programs provide an
important training ground for future leaders, technical experts, and professionals.
Strategy 6: Invest in work that intersects environmental health and reproductive health.
Encourage multi-sector approaches that seek to change policies and practices designed to
reduce toxic exposure and environmental degradation on women, children, and families. A
number of groups are working on campaigns to regulate, disclose, and ultimately eliminate
toxic ingredients in consumer products, including cosmetics, cleaning and household products,
and toys/products for infants and children. Groups are also calling for the elimination of toxic
chemicals from consumer goods because of their long-term, cumulative impacts on human
health and reproduction.
Strategy 7: Invest in long-term campaigns and programming. Demonstrating improvement in
health outcomes takes time. A long-term commitment is necessary to change the conditions in
underserved and environmentally-burdened communities. Support long-term campaigns,
organizing, educations/training, community-based participatory research, and policy
infrastructure to enhance networking and collaborations nongovernmental organizations within
the Environmental Justice Movement and with other organization allies working on similar topics
and initiatives.
Strategy 8: Broaden the base of foundations and government funding of environmental justice
and health equity work that extends beyond funding “silos.” Environmental justice is integrative
and holistic in its approachencompassing a broad array of solution-driven protocols, including
“anti-toxics” campaign, pollution prevention, precautionary principle, chemical reform, green
chemistry, green products, food security, green jobs, green economy, etc. Incentives are
needed to promote investment in clean technologies and healthy products, including
renewable and non-polluting energy, safer chemical and materials, organic and sustainable
agriculture, and sustainable fish harvesting, by using revenues from taxes levied on especially
damaging consumer products and technologies.
Strategy 9: Help local governments, particularly public health departments, build and prioritize
healthy communities’ initiatives. Cities and counties must reorient their planning and
operations, establish new methods of collaborating across sectors, and focus much more on
prevention. Public health, medical, and social scientific research should continue to establish
the link between health and community conditions, assess the effectiveness of existing policies,
and help identify the priorities within and across communities.
Strategy 10: Strengthen the collaborative work on climate justice, public health, and vulnerable
communities. Climate justice looms as a major environmental justice issue. Investments are
needed in the growing Climate Justice Movement since the most vulnerable populations will
suffer the earliest and most damaging setbacks because of where they live, their limited
income and economic means, and their lack of access to health care. Yet, low-income people
and people of color contribute least to global warming. Unless appropriate actions are taken to
mitigate its effects or adapt to them, climate change will worsen existing equity issues within the
United States.
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
Strategy 11: Leverage public and private resources to support translations of environmental
health and racial equity research. Information is power. Foster translation of research and
technical reports and documents to highlight the link between community conditions and
individual health and to provide insights about the effectiveness of different approaches.
Getting “community-friendly” research materials in the hand of local leaders can sometimes
make the difference between victory and a loss.
Strategy 12: Increase organization capacity and access to scientific data, policy analysis, and
communications expertise. Support translation of on-the-ground experiences of communities
working on an array of campaigns. Nongovernmental organizations that represent low-income
communities and people of color need rigorous research and scientific data, economic
analysis, and the ability to communicate their work to constituencies in larger policy arenas.
Strategy 13: Document and disseminate “success stories.” Environmental justice leaders have
always subscribed to the principle of “people must speak for themselves” and telling their own
stories. In order to be authentic, “success stories” need to be told through the voices of the
individuals who produced the successes. Vulnerable and environmentally-burdened
communities need to sense that change is possible in their lifetime. Stories about advocacy and
policy change need to highlight how change can happen and the ways it can make a
difference.
Strategy 14: Help frame proactive communications and media campaigns. Stories about
environmental, health, and racial equity need to emphasize communities, organizations, and
people “overcoming” challenges and creating change. They also need to highlight the
connection between health and protective factors in the social, physical, and economic
environments. Media stories need to provide possibilities for replication.
Strategy 15: Maintain a focus on racial equity and eliminating environmental and health
disparities. Apply a racial equity lens to grantmaking. Achieving racial equity remains a core
tenet of the Environmental Justice Movement. Community advocates need to be involved in
decision making about the specific environmental and health challenges confronting their
communities, the approaches to address them, and broader societal issues, to ensure that new
policies and practices are equitable and overcome previous barriers to full inclusion and
participation.
Strategy 16: Help align formal and informal systems that support environmental justice, healthy
communities, and racial equity and promote optimal health outcomes for vulnerable families
and children. Build innovative education, training and learning partnerships between schools,
families, grassroots groups, communities, government, and the business community that
strengthen the conditions for healthy communities. Programs should be relevant to community
needs, support community change agendas, should be designed to document and better
understand local issues, and provide diverse stakeholders with information needed to bolster
efforts seeking policy change.
Strategy 17: Support movement for “toxic-free” neighborhoods and healthy schools. Healthy
people and healthy environments are related. Advocates are fighting to get access to
affordable housing in “toxic-free” neighborhoods and healthy schools. They are working on
strategies to address the root causes of environmental risks, eliminate racial and ethnic
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Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones: 1964-2014
disparities within geographic areas, and increase public sector investments in prevention, and
health promotion.
Strategy 18: Increase the percentage of grant dollars devoted to advocacy, community
organizing, and civic engagement. Nongovernmental organizations need sustained resources
to respond effectively to current challenges. As the nation grows smarter , greener, and
sustainable , we also need to become more just to address longstanding disparities and
inequalities . There are no silver-bullet solutions to these challenges. Nevertheless, there are
some concrete action steps that can be taken to build, strengthen and support the
Environmental Justice Movement going forward.
Strategy 19: Increase general operating support and multi-year grants. The vast majority of
environmental justice and health equity work is cross-disciplinary, holistic, and in most instances
“fit” into several categorical program areas. In general, organizations prefer multi-year, reliable
core support to project support, where the strategic goals of the funder and the nonprofit
organization are substantially aligned. Reliable, predictable, and flexible multi-year core
support allows organizations to carry out their mission and respond to new challenges and
opportunities.
Strategy 20: Invest in community-university partnerships (CUPs) that advance the new
“corporate environmental justice performance scorecard” and related Health Impact
Assessment tools that assess the potential human health risk of toxic emissions at industrial
sites. The time is right for achieving the goal of clean and safe environments for all
Americans. More community-university partnerships (CUPs) are needed to support the health
and racial equity goals of the Environmental Justice Movement. There is a need to use Health
Impact Assessments (HIA) to minimize adverse health outcomes. More emphasis should be on
planning for good health, rather than managing risks, prevention, and precaution.
... In 1991, the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit convened in Washington, DC and authored the Seventeen Principles of Environmental Justice (Bullard et al. 2007;LVEJO 2013). In 1994, President Bill Clinton issued an executive order calling for federal action (Executive Order 12898; see also Bullard et al. 2014). That order, however, has not become law, and ongoing research confirms the intractable trends documented in the original United Church of Christ study (Bullard et al. 2014;Lester, Allen, and Hill 2001;Mohai and Bryant 1998;Ringquist 2005;Taylor 2011). ...
... In 1994, President Bill Clinton issued an executive order calling for federal action (Executive Order 12898; see also Bullard et al. 2014). That order, however, has not become law, and ongoing research confirms the intractable trends documented in the original United Church of Christ study (Bullard et al. 2014;Lester, Allen, and Hill 2001;Mohai and Bryant 1998;Ringquist 2005;Taylor 2011). Bright spots do exist as well; however, research shows rising public awareness of these dangerous trends (Bullard and Wright 2012;Lerner 2010;Taylor 2014), and currently EJrelated research is expanding to include the study of new combinations of sites and factors. ...
... Seeking to provide a rigorous basis for the EJOLT mapping exercise, we distributed the survey widely to the EJ community of activists, scholars, and other leaders drawing on contact and participation lists of several national EJ conferences, membership lists of past and present national EJ advisory committees, and names listed in prominent EJ reports, such as Toxic Waste and Race at Twenty (Bullard et al. 2007) and Environmental Justice Milestones and Accomplishments 1964-2014(Bullard et al. 2014. Word of our survey quickly reached the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who asked that our survey be posted on EPA's EJ Blog. ...
Article
Full-text available
This article identifies the top 40 most influential environmental conflict cases in the US while also showcasing innovative mixed methods for more rigorous participatory collaborative work on environmental conflicts. University of Michigan students and faculty collaborated with Environmental Justice Organizations, Liabilities and Trade (EJOLT), a European Union mapping initiative, to identify US cases for their wider study. We began with an intensive scholarly and media literature review, combined with results from 31 semi-structured interviews with informants from a broad database of US environmental justice (EJ) departments, initiatives, and symposia. We then wrote short descriptions of 90 EJ conflict cases in US history, incorporating them into a detailed participatory online survey to garner expert and public input on which of them have been the most influential in shaping US popular opinion, policy, and political will on EJ issues. Seeking to provide a rigorous basis for the EJOLT mapping exercise, but also to instill an ethic of knowledge co-creation within the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s mechanisms for assessing EJ issues, we distributed the survey widely and posted it on the EPA's EJ Blog. It received over 1000 hits in the first two weeks. Our surveys remained active for about three weeks, for a total of 350 responses (101 from respondents who self-identified as EJ experts, and 249 from those identifying as members of the wider public). After eliminating incomplete or duplicate responses, we weighted to correct for that imbalance in the numbers, considering a total of 165 in our analysis. These responses comprise the list of 40 cases (unranked) we launched on the atlas in March 2014, and describe in this paper; the top five including multiple oil- or petroleum-based cases, one clean water case, one climate change case, and one confined animal feeding operation case.
... The development of the environmental justice movement in the San Joaquin Valley dates back to the International Workers of the World in the 1920s and the United Farm Workers in the 1960s and 1970's (Huang and London, 2012). The movement grew, in part, as a reaction by activists of the 1960's to the lack of attention being paid to race and class issues by mainstream middle-class white male environmentalists, who appeared to be more concerned with the preservation of wilderness sites than the health and wellbeing of heavily impacted minority populations (Bullard et al., 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
Asthma prevalence is reportedly low for children of Mexican descent compared with other ethnic groups and Latino subgroups. The results of our exploratory ethnographic research among children of farmworkers in California dramatically suggest otherwise. Unstructured and semi-structured open-ended interviews and photovoice methods were combined to explore the lived experiences of members of a marginalized farmworker community. This research gives voice to a population of families living in the highly toxic, yet agriculturally wealthy environment of the San Joaquin Valley. Little work has been reported employing photovoice, a community-based participatory research method, to study childhood exposure to pesticides. A rich narrative about perceptions of pesticide exposure emerged from the ethnographic interviews. Thematic analysis yielded beliefs about the relationship between air quality and childhood asthma. The findings suggest that childhood asthma should be reviewed within the context of local levels of environmental exposure and the principles of environmental justice.
Chapter
This chapter clarifies the substantial impact of environmental justice on scholarship and policy-making by addressing the core questions of this volume. It reviews the assumptions and contributions of the concept of environmental justice, which are argued to be numerous and influential. The scholarly idea and the social movement of the same name are not going to disappear: environmental justice is being used more than ever in the scholarly and policy literatures. The economic, socio-political and racial discrimination explanations for why environmental injustices exist drive different explanations for existing patterns, and divergent policy approaches for addressing the issue. As it heads to the end of its fourth decade, environmental justice research has a vast open agenda with great promise, both within national and local realms, and at the international level as well.
Article
The Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program is a nationally prominent rail-infrastructure program. It is managed by the unique partnership of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, Metra, Amtrak, Association of American Railroads, and six of the nation’s Class I freight railroads. The CREATE 75 th Street Corridor Improvement Project (CIP) received a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Record of Decision in September 2014. As a result of 75 th Street CIP and other completed preliminary engineering and project environmental reviews within the 70 rail-improvements program, CREATE has set a national-policy example with regard to mitigation under the environmental justice Executive Order (EO) 12898. This article provides some background on the CREATE Program and examines the development of the CREATE Environmental Justice Policy. It describes the impetus for creating the policy, namely noise impacts on low-income and minority populations resulting from the 75 th Street CIP and other CREATE Program rail projects. This article also discusses the extensive coordination among Federal and State agencies, among the public and private CREATE partners, and among Community Advisory Groups and residents, all of which led to the specific mitigations addressed in the CREATE environmental justice policy. The result of these encompassing efforts, led by Federal Highway Administration and the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Public and Intermodal Transportation, is a precedent-setting framework for analyzing and, when necessary, mitigating the potential environmental justice impacts of the CREATE Program rail projects. The CREATE Environmental Justice Policy is precedent setting in a few ways: (a) it establishes policy where none currently exists and where existing highway-oriented policies do not seem appropriate or applicable; (b) it provides greater specificity with regard to what mitigation measures are “practicable” to address predicted noise impacts of CREATE Program rail projects on low-income and minority populations; (c) it clarifies the lead agencies’ intent to maintain the transportation linkage and focus when developing and evaluating practicable mitigation measures for other (i.e., non-noise) impacts; and (d) it helps assure the equity of the transportation investment by better balancing the distribution of burdens and benefits at the project level. This article identifies the steps, when considering disproportionately high and adverse impacts to low-income and/or minority populations, on how to evaluate other practicable mitigation measures with merit under EO 12898. This article also describes the lessons learned and the dialogue necessary to receive broad support from the CREATE partners for both needed rail improvements and additional mitigations to provide offsetting benefits and opportunities to enhance Chicago-area communities, neighborhoods, and residents’ quality of life. Environmental Practice 17: 256–269 (2015)
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