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Environmental Justice

“Environmental justice refers to those cultural norms and values, rules, regulations, behaviors, policies, and decisions to support sustainable communities where people can interact with confidence that their environment is safe, nurturing, and productive. Environmental justice is served when people realize their highest potential without experiencing the ‘isms.’ Environmental justice is supported by decent paying and safe jobs; quality schools and recreation; affordable housing; adequate health care; personal empowerment; and communities free of violence, drugs, and poverty. These are communities where both cultural and biological diversity are respected and highly revered, and where distributive justice prevails.”

-Bunyan Bryant, PhD, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment

creating equitable clipEnvironmental justice addresses quality of life with emphasis on cumulative environmental, health, social and economic impacts of spatial toxic threats and toxic hazards. These perils include polluting facilities, deleterious land uses that affect community stability and resiliency, and negative outcomes such as poverty, segregation, higher mortality and morbidity, stress and neighborhood stigma. Since the 1960s, research reveals the disproportionate effects of lead poisoning, dumps, landfills, hazardous waste sites, incinerators, highways, chemical plants, refineries and other industries in communities of color and low wealth communities. Environmental justice proponents are pursuing sustainable environmental and economic models based upon conservation of natural resources, open space preservation, renewable energy, safe jobs and the tenets of participatory democracy and equal protection under law.

Additional Resources:

Executive Order 12898

Creating Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Communities

Justice in the Air 

Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty

Linking Environmental Justice and Smart Growth