In 1987, Benjamin F. Chavis, Executive Director of the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, described environmental racism as: “racial discrimination in environmental policymaking, in the enforcement of regulations and laws, and the targeting of communities of color for toxic waste disposal and the siting of polluting industries.”
Citation: See Mohai, Paul; Pellow, David; Roberts, J. Timmons, Environmental Justice, 34 ANNUAL REVIEW OF ENVIRONMENT AND RESOURCES, 405–430 (2009).
Environmental Justice (EJ) is a civil rights principle: all people have a right to be protected from environmental pollution and to live, learn, work, play, and pray in and enjoy a clean and healthy environment regardless of race, income, national origin, or English language proficiency. In a time of severe climate change, this also means equal protection against the adverse consequences of severe weather, extreme temperatures, and flooding.
An Act Relative to Environmental Justice in the Commonwealth (H.4264), a bill that ACE is actively supporting, defines Environmental Justice as: “The people’s right to be protected from environmental pollution and to live in and enjoy a clean and healthful environment, regardless of race, color, income, class, handicap, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity or ancestry, religious belief or English language proficiency. Environmental justice is the equal protection and meaningful involvement of all people with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies, including climate change policies, and the equitable distribution of energy and environmental benefits, and environmental burdens.”