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ABA Policy

During their August 2021 meeting, the ABA House of Delegates adopted a resolution that resolves that the ABA advance environmental justice principles in its programs, policies, and activities, and advocate for environmental justice legislation and policy. You can access the resolution here.

Section Publications

Article: Washington State’s New Environmental Justice Act Exempts Forest Activities

The environmental justice movement has seen recent gains in state legislatures and governors’ offices across the country. Several states have recently passed legislation or issued executive orders regarding the need to take environmental justice concerns into account when making permitting and siting decisions. In the Pacific Northwest, this movement has culminated in the recent passage by the Washington State Legislature of the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act, which became effective July 25, 2021. Read this article to learn more.

Article: How ESG Efforts Can Promote Environmental Justice from the Section's Natural Resources & Environment magazine 

The rise in environmental, social, and corporate governance commitments creates great opportunity for investors and companies to focus on strategies to address climate change and environmental justice.

ABA Articles

Article: A Fresh Approach: ABA steps up efforts to advance environmental justice

Longtime advocates Gwen Keyes Fleming and Quentin Pair serve as co-chairs of the new ABA Task Force on Environmental Justice. Read this article to learn more about the task force and its development.

Article: Environmental justice: What is it? What does it mean for you – and your clients?

A new era of environmental justice is upon us, according to panelists at the 2021 American Bar Association Annual Meeting, who explained during an August 4, 2021 CLE Showcase Program what the movement is about, and what it means for you. Read this article to learn more about environmental justice.

Article: Environmental Justice: Merging Environmental Law and Ethics

Because the merger of ethics and environmental law forms the foundation of environmental justice, as new environmental justice laws and policies are developed at the local, state, and federal levels, many ethical considerations must be addressed. Who should bear the burden of environmental hazards? How should the burdened community participate in the environmental decision-making process? What values should be considered when completing an environmental project? Read this article by Julia C. Rinne and Carol E. Dinkins to learn more.

Article: It's not 'Just' Zoning: Environmental Justice and Land Use

This article by Benjamin F. Wilson provides an overview of the fundamentals of environmental justice, including the history of the movement and tools available to community advocates and attorneys working to further environmental justice through land use decisions. Familiarity with the principles and history of environmental justice is essential to understanding how land use laws, regulations, and decisions can further or hinder environmental justice concerns; and how poor and minority communities can use these laws to their advantage with the assistance of counsel.

Article: Environmental Justice and Indian Country

In this article, Dean Suagee puts forth the proposition that the environmental justice movement needs Indians more than Indians need the movement. He describes this and articulates that the same idea holds true for the mainstream environmental movement. 

ABA Webinar Recordings

Video Collection: ABA Civil Rights and Social Justice Section YouTube Channel

Videos include information about environmental justice and climate change.

Webinar recording: The Paths of Environmental Law and Environmental Justice: Where We Need to Go to Ensure Equal Protection for Everyone

Environmental justice champions come together for a panel on environmental justice and environmental law, including practical opportunities for lawyers to contribute to solutions.

Webinar recording: Environmental Justice in the 21st Century: Threats and Opportunities

This program recording features a Keynote Address by Senator Corey Booker and a panel discussion on the various ways the Environmental Justice Act of 2017 EJA addresses critical issues for vulnerable communities nationwide (especially communities of color) in light of historical, ongoing challenges, as well as new ones posed by the Trump Administration. 

Webinar recording: Environmental Justice in the 21st Century: Threats and Opportunities

This program recording features a Keynote Address by Senator Corey Booker and a panel discussion on the various ways the Environmental Justice Act of 2017 EJA addresses critical issues for vulnerable communities nationwide (especially communities of color) in light of historical, ongoing challenges, as well as new ones posed by the Trump Administration. 

ABA Networking

Committee: Civil Rights and Social Justice Section Environmental Justice Committee

This committee seeks to achieve environmental justice through advocacy, education, networking, and providing resources for the needs of environmental justice (EJ) communities and practitioners.

Federal and State Agencies and Legislatures

Executive Order 12898 (Clinton, 1994), Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations.

White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council

Environmental Protection Agency

Health and Human Services

Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library

Department of Justice

White House Council on Environmental Quality

State and Federal Environmental Justice Efforts

California Legislature

  • California bill AB 1001, which provides that mitigation measures be considered in any project under CEQA (the California state NEPA statute) that impacts disadvantaged communities. AB 1001 passed the California Assembly and now is in the California Senate for review and prospective passage.


Senator Corey Booker  has reintroduced his proposed legislation on environmental justice.  See his August 2021 announcement and the full text of the bill.

The Green New Deal, H. Res. 332, introduced 4/20/21 by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on behalf of herself and others.

Environmental Justice for Corona Virus Affected Communities Act.  Introduced 3/12/21 by Rep. Ruiz Raul.  See the bill.

S.872 Environmental Justice for All Act - Introduced 3/18/21 by Sen. Tammy Duckworth.

Environmental Justice and Mapping Act of 2021 S.101 introduced 1/28/21 by Sen. Markey & H.R.516 introduced 1/28/21 by Rep. Bush. Establishes an interagency Environmental Justice Mapping Committee that must create a tool to identify environmental justice communities. Environmental justice communities are communities with significant representation of communities of color, low-income communities, or tribal and indigenous communities that experience, or are at risk of experiencing, higher or more adverse human health or environmental effects, as compared to other communities.

Summary of chapter on EJ, "Invest in Disproportionately Exposed Communities to Cut Pollution and Advance Environmental Justice"

House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, “Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient and Just America” (June 2020), Majority Staff Report prepared pursuant to H.Res. 6 

HR 5896 Environmental Justice for All Act - Introduced 2/27/20, referred to Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.  This bill establishes several environmental justice requirements, advisory bodies, and programs to address the disproportionate adverse human health or environmental effects of federal laws or programs on communities of color, low-income communities, or tribal and indigenous communities.

S2236, Environmental Justice Act of 2019 - Introduced 7/23/19 by Senator Booker (for himself, Senators Harris, Sanders, Duckworth, Warren and others), referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.  See the Summary and full text.  Sen. Booker is expected to reintroduce the bill in the current Congress.


Columbia University Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. Michael Gerrard, Faculty Director:

Environmental Justice: Law, Policy & Regulation website


  • African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (1981) ‘African Charter on Human and People’s Rights
  • Ako R, Environmental Justice in Developing Countries, (Routledge 2013)
  • Anand R, International Environmental Justice, (Ashgate 2004)
  • Anton D and Shelton D, Environmental Protection and Human Rights (CUP 2011)
  • Bullard R, Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality, (Sierra Club Books 2000)
  • Bullard R, Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color (Sierra Club Books 1994)
  • Cole L and Foster S, From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement (New York University Press 2000)
  • Gerrard, M and Foster S, (eds) The Law of Environmental Justice: Theories and Procedures to Address Disproportionate Risk (American Bar Association 2012)
  • Government Accounting Office (now Government Accountability Office) (GAO) (1983), ‘Siting of Hazardous Waste Landfills’
  • Harding A, Access to Environmental Justice: A Comparative Study (Martinus Nijhoff 2007)
  • Hill B, Environmental Justice: Legal Theory and Practice (Environmental Law Institute 2009)
  • King CS, et al, ‘The Question of Participation: Public Participation in Public Administration’ (1998) 58 Pub Admin Rev 317
  • Le Bouthillier Y, Cohen MA, Gonzalez Marquez JJ, Mumma A and Smith S (eds) (2012) Poverty Alleviation and Environmental Law (Edward Elgar 2012)
  • National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) (2001) ‘Environmental Justice in EPA Permitting: Reducing Pollution in High-Risk Communities Integral to the Agency’s Mission’
  • National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) (2006) ‘Future Mechanisms to Enhance Stakeholder Involvement and Engagement to Address Environmental Justice’
  • National Law Journal 21 September 1992.
  • Picolletti R and Taillant JD (eds), Linking Human Rights and the Environment (University of Arizona Press 2010)
  • Rechtschaffen C, Gauna E and O’Neill C, Environmental Justice Law, Policy and Regulation (2d ed.) (Carolina Academic Press 2009)
  • Rhodes E, Environmental Justice in America: A New Paradigm (Indiana University Press 2003)
  • Schlosberg D, Defining Environmental Justice (Oxford University Press 2007)
  • United Church of Christ, Commission on Racial Justice (1997), ‘Toxic Waste and Race in the United States’
  • Shelton D, ‘The Environmental Jurisprudence of International Human Rights Tribunals’ in Picolloti R and Taillant JD (eds) Linking Human Rights and the Environment (University of Arizona Press 2003)
  • Shelton D, ‘Equity’ in Bodansky D, Brunnee J and Hay E (eds), Oxford Handbook of international Environmental Law (Oxford University Press 2007)
  • United Nations, The Aarhus Convention: An Implementation Guide (2000)
  • United Nations (1972) ‘Stockholm Declaration’
  • US Environmental Protection Agency (1989) ‘A Management Review of the Superfund Program.’
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of the Inspector General (18 September 2006) ‘EPA Needs to Conduct Environmental Justice Reviews of its Programs, Policies, and Activities’
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2010) ‘Plan EJ 2014’
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2014) ‘Plan EJ 2014 Progress Report’
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1996) ‘Public Participation Manual’
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2003) ‘Public Involvement Policy’

Non-Governmental Organizations

Energy Justice Atlas by Energy Justice Network: Maps overlap layers of energy facilities by type and status, and layers of ethnicities and income levels.  The site notes the EJAtlas is a work in progress:

Aspen Institute links to EJ sites

The Alliance to Save Energy seeks increased efficiency in energy use.

Climate Analytics, with linkages between environmental justice and racial justice

Sierra Club, with links to EJ resources

WE ACT for Environmental Justice seeks to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices.

Additional Resources

A July 2022 New York Times article titled, "Justice Dept. Will Investigate Environmental Racism in Houston" can be accessed here.

A May 2022 Washington Post article titled, "Block-by-block data shows pollution’s stark toll on people of color" can be accessed here.

A March 2022 Washington Post article titled, "Redlining means 45 million Americans are breathing dirtier air, 50 years after it ended" can be accessed here.

An August 2021 New York Times article titled, "When Environmental Racism Causes a Hygienic Hell" can be accessed here.

Historical list of EJ lawsuits by Wikipedia

Intersectional Environmentalist videos and podcasts resources.  

Non-ABA resources are listed on this page as a service to members. Listing is not an endorsement by the American Bar Association. The opinions expressed in the resources listed on this page are those of the authors and they do not purport to reflect the opinions or policies of the American Bar Association or the Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources.