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Lucas Sanders
Lucas Sanders

Environmental Justice: Law, Policy ((INSTALL))


In addition to establishing new environmental justice policy initiatives, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus relief package, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 appropriates $100 million to the EPA to address health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID-19 pandemic, and also designates $50 million to grants, contracts and other agency activities that identify and address disproportionate harms and risks on minority and low-income populations, in addition to $50 million to grants and activities in order to monitor and improve air quality. On top of ARPA, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included a number of investments with potential to benefit communities most impacted by environmental justice-related issues and concerns.




Environmental Justice: Law, Policy


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New Jersey enacted SB 232 in 2020, which requires the Department of Environmental Protection to evaluate the environmental and public health impacts of particular facilities, such as gas-fired power plants, wastewater treatment plans, and landfills, when reviewing permit applications. With this law, New Jersey became the first state to require state agencies to deny a permit if an analysis determines that a new facility will have a disproportionately negative impact on the surrounding community.


The Section responds to Congressional and citizen correspondence and Freedom of Information Act requests; and serves as the Division's ethics officer and counselor, alternative dispute resolution counselor, and liaison with state and local governments. Attorneys in the Section also litigate cases in which the United States appears as amicus curiae, undertake other special litigation projects, and coordinate the Division's involvement in environmental litigation and policy matters.


The Section facilitates Division-wide initiatives on legal issues affecting minority and low-income communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental burdens. The Section coordinates the Division's efforts to provide advice, through the Department's Office of Legal Policy and the Office of Management and Budget, to agencies that are considering regulations or policies related to the environment and our natural resources. The Section also leads the Division's work with interagency groups and task forces and facilitates Division-wide initiatives on legal and policy matters.


From its inception, the Law and Policy Section (formerly PLSL or the Policy Legislation and Special Litigation Section) has advised and assisted the Assistant Attorney General of the Environment Division on environmental legal and policy questions. Click below to learn more about its history and work.


Too often, decisions are made and actions are taken about pollution, natural resources management, and climate change that end up disproportionately impacting communities of color and low-income communities. How do we determine who must live near environmental hazards and who gets access to environmental benefits? The goal of this conference is to explore the various legal and policy tools available to achieve environmental and climate justice for vulnerable and marginalized communities.


This course will cover the development, theories, and practice of environmental justice law, specifically analyzing the legal and policy tools used by advocates to advance environmental justice. The course will begin by looking at the history and foundational concepts of environmental justice. We will then explore litigation tools and current litigation strategies used in environmental justice cases. Throughout the semester, student assignments are designed to deepen their grasp of environmental justice, hone their legal skills, and advance their understanding of the real-world practice of environmental justice law.Key topics to be covered are: the intersection between race and the environment, and class and the environment; the relationship between traditional environmental movements and environmental justice movements; the relationship between science and policy; current litigation strategies and environmental justice policies; the use of natural resource law in environmental justice cases; and, the use of civil rights law for environmental justice concerns. Focus is on U.S. and California law.


The clinic works with scientists, medical professionals, nonprofit and public interest organizations, and government clients on environmental and energy issues at the federal, state, and local level. The work includes writing briefs and comment letters, drafting climate change mitigation and adaptation regulations and policies for municipalities, preparing guidance documents and manuals for non-lawyers, drafting model legislation, and preparing policy papers. The clinic develops novel strategies to address thorny environmental problems; investigates new cases; works with scientific, economic, and policy experts to help them present their views about the impacts of legal reforms; advises citizen scientists; and convenes meetings of policy-makers and regulators.


Students participate in classroom seminars and site investigations, represent their clients at public hearings and agency proceedings, and are actively involved in litigation, transactional cases, and policy development. They have helped community organizations stop large polluters from damaging human health and environment. Student teams worked alongside these groups to prevent the construction of a Navy jet landing field which would have condemned an environmental justice community and to prevent the building of a huge coal-burning cement kiln next to river already heavily polluted by mercury. They have also helped develop successful policies that advance organic and sustainable agriculture and have been instrumental in shaping regulations that protect children in licensed North Carolina childcare centers from lead in drinking water.


Under the supervision of the clinical faculty, students will work on current case and policy advocacy priorities. Cases and issues undertaken by the Clinic may include the following subject areas: water quality, air quality, natural resources conservation, endangered species, agriculture, sustainable development, public trust resources and environmental justice. Practical skills training will emphasize skills needed to counsel clients, develop evidence and advocate effectively in rule-making and litigation settings.


Environmental justice; policy. Provides that it is the policy of the Commonwealth to promote environmental justice, defined in the bill, and to ensure that it is carried out throughout the Commonwealth. This bill is identical to HB 704.


Virginia Environmental Justice Act; definitions, responsibilities of state agencies. Requires state agencies to determine the likely effect of their actions on environmental justice and fenceline communities and to tailor those actions to reduce the potential for adverse impacts on such communities in a manner consistent with the environmental justice policy created by the agency. The bill also creates an interagency work group for the purpose of furthering environmental justice in the Commonwealth.


Virginia Environmental Justice Act. Establishesthe Virginia Environmental Justice Act to promote the fair treatmentand meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color,national origin, income, faith, or disability with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental lawsand policies. Under the bill, state agencies are required to examineany new regulation or policy or amendment to an existing regulationor policy involving state action or funds in relation to its impact on environmental justice prior to adoption of the regulation or policy.The bill requires the Governor's Secretaries to develop a policyor strategy to promote environmental justice in ways that are tailoredto the specific authority, mission, and programs under their Secretariat no later than January 1, 2021.


Sociology offers broad theoretical perspectives and rigorous methodologies to analyze how and why such inequalities are produced and maintained locally, nationally, and globally. Students pursuing an EJP minor explore the impact of environmental hazards on the health and economic opportunities of vulnerable and marginalized populations; the mechanisms by which environmental conflicts are managed at the local, state, national and global levels; the real-world implications of issues such as climate change, food security, public health and hazard exposure; the spatial dimensions of environmental inequalities and how they are experienced; the strategies and tactics of social movement organizations seeking environmental justice; and how environmental justice is addressed in public policies. The EJP minor introduces students to environmental scholars across the campus community, expanding networking and mentoring opportunities, exposing students to diverse ideas, methods, and theories in the area of environmental justice, and teaching fundamental skills and competencies for careers related to policy making and research in the environmental sphere.


EJLPC believe that communities have the solutions to our climate, energy and environmental justice challenges. EJLPC makes the connection between law, policy, people and power. We hold space for policy co-creation, dialog, action and education to ensure full community participation in all energy decision-making. We also engage policymakers and decision-makers to drive the solutions we wish to see at scale. We have offices in New Rochelle, NY and Birmingham, AL.


This annual event brings together public health researchers, elected leaders, environmental organizers and community advocates for timely and compelling discussions on environmental justice and health disparity issues in the DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV), Mid-Atlantic region, and beyond. With a focus on taking action, applying science for social good and utilizing legal and policy tools to support community struggles for environmental health, participants gain inspiration, solutions, and access to critical resources to advance environmental, racial, social, and economic justice!


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