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What is Environmental Justice?

jackie, June 21, 2018


What is Environmental Justice?

The birth of the modern day environmental justice movement is credited to the 1982 landfill protest in Warren County, North Carolina. The Warren County protest marked the first instance of an environmental protest by people of color that garnered widespread national attention.


According to the EPA, environmental justice is 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. The EPA formed the Office of Environmental Justice in 1992. The offices creates programs for communities to utilize to promote an equitable environment and provides suggested guidelines to the EPA.


But, historically minority and low income communities face more than what some would say is their fair share of pollution from industrial sources. Pollution isn’t the only issue; a lack of green space, noise and light pollution, and food deserts are just a few environmental justice issues. Health is typically the highlighted issue associated with environmental justice but there are many social and economic issues as well.


Environmental Justice and Faith

Where do faith and environmental justice link? Environmental justice is the link between environmental and social issues, seeing that people are affected by the environment. Environmental justice calls for faith traditions to see the disproportionate burden that climate change is placing on groups of people.

Environmental justice askS an individual to recognize and act on the environmental inequalities happening beyond their immediate community.


Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions and Environmental Justice

Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions believes that all communities deserve environmental equity. FACS is working to bring more representation into our organization to better understand issues across Northern Virginia. This starts with who FACS reaches out to, events FACS attends, and how FACS communicates environmental issues. FACS is dedicated to representing environmental issues that are faced by low-income and minority communities in Fairfax County by working alongside them and amplifying their voice.


FACS is starting a Fairfax County Weatherization Program. This is a step towards addressing environmental equity in the Fairfax County Community. The goal of the program is to train congregation members to both identify and provide weatherization to their households. Reducing the amount of energy and water in a residence reduces utility costs, and improves the health, comfort and safety of the residents. There is a specific focus to partner with congregations along the Route One Corridor in Fairfax County. This is an area of condensed low-income housing that traditionally lacks energy efficiencies. FACS will provide supplies and resources free of charge as well as a Spanish translator so that all community members have access to the trainings. FACS believes this program will be a first step in working towards environmental justice in Fairfax County.



Interested in learning more? Check out a variety of resources to understand different topics in the environmental justice movement!



Love Canal Revisited : Race, Class, and Gender in Environmental Activism by: Elizabeth Blum


Black, White, and Green: Farmers Markets, Race, and the Green Economy by: Alison Hope Alkon


Online Comic:

Mayah’s Lot by Charlie La Greca & Rebecca Bratspies




Black Lives Matter: Environmental Racism Is Killing African-Americans by Michael Cottman




Climate Stew: Damn! Even Pollution in America is Racist



Climate Stew: Reeking of Faith: Religious Communities and a Warming Planet




A Village Called Versailles