Environmental justice and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act: A critical crossroads

Vol. 43 No. 4

Albert Huang is a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council and leads their environmental justice work.

Environmental justice (EJ) is a grassroots, community-based movement that addresses the disproportionate burden of toxic pollution and lack of environment benefits/amenities borne by low-income communities and communities of color. From a litigation perspective, the movement has mostly relied on traditional environmental laws to address environmental disparities. But beginning in the early 1990s, EJ communities turned to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq., as a means to address racial discrimination in the permitting and siting of facilities that release hazardous pollutants and cause environmental health risks.

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