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Environmental Justice: Government Info: Environmental Justice

United States governmental resources regarding environmental justice and relevant environmental law


The Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice (EJ) as:

the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys:

  • the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and
  • equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environmental in which to live, learn, and work.

Environmental justice issues include impacts from climate change, land use and resettlement, toxic waste prevention and management, air and water quality, sustainable development, gentrification and urban food deserts, Indigenous and First Nation rights and protections, historic and cultural heritage preservation, racism and poverty, socioeconomic inequities, and health access and wellness disparities across communities. EJ is often a collaboration of government, non-profit, and community efforts to create and pass policy measures that protect from climate change, industrial pollution, toxic waste, and other concerns, although the interests of industry and federal agencies sometimes run counter to those of communities. While there are major environmental actors at the federal level, state and local organizations often work together to address issues at the regional level.

Scope Note

This guide primarily focuses on United States government information related to environmental justice, including data tools and resources, relevant regulations, legislation, and case law, and energy, climate, and environmental resources. EJ issues span across each governmental branch and affect dozens of governmental agencies, publications, regulations, and activities. This guide seeks to serve students, researchers, and the general public by coordinating the major government tools and resources relevant to EJ and, when appropriate, provide a snapshot of related resources to create a comprehensive overview of environmental justice materials.

As a result of EJ's wide impact on the lives of millions of Americans, countless non-profits, NGOs, and community-based organizations exist to supplement governmental regulations and resources -- this guide includes but a handful of community resources for EJ activities and research.