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Environmental Justice: A Law Library Collection

Earth is more valuable than money

According to the EPA Office of Environmental Justice, the term "environmental justice" means "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." They further explain that this goal will be achieved when everyone has access to the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work. 

Another definition of environmental justice can be found on the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) website. The NRDC defines it as a movement championed primarily by African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans "to improve and maintain a clean and healthful environment, especially for those who have traditionally lived, worked and played closest to the sources of pollution." In this respect, environmental justice is an idea, but it is also a movement related to the civil rights movement. The EPA has a timeline on its website which shows the milestones in this area of law and explains the link between civil rights and environmental justice as follows: 

The environmental justice movement was started by individuals, primarily people of color, who sought to address the inequity of environmental protection in their communities.
Professor Robert Bullard wrote, "whether by conscious design or institutional neglect, communities of color in urban ghettos, in rural 'poverty pockets', or on economically impoverished Native-American reservations face some of the worst environmental devastation in the nation.

As we move into Spring, we have created a guide that features content on environmental justice. This guide contains books and digital resources available at the RWU Law Library on this topic. As always, if you have any reference or research questions, please contact us at

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