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Environmental Justice (Research)

California at the Crossroads: Proposition 23, AB 32, and Climate Change

California at the Crossroads: Proposition 23, AB 32, and Climate ChangeBy Berkley Law University of California


Proposition 23, an initiative appearing on California’s November 2010 general election ballot, would suspend the implementation and operation of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, better known as AB 32, until state unemployment rates remain at or below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. That level has been reached three times since the state began compiling these statistics in 1976. AB 32 requires California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a reduction of approximately 30 percent from projected business-as-usual levels for the same year. During a period of suspension under Proposition 23, state agencies would not be able to “propose, promulgate, or adopt any regulation implementing” AB 32. In addition, the regulations adopted prior to suspension would be made “void and unenforceable” during the suspension period. The proponents of Proposition 23 argue that implementation of AB 32 will raise energy prices and reduce employment and, therefore, should be suspended until the state’s economy is more robust. They contend that Proposition 23 will benefit California by temporarily delaying expensive and burdensome greenhouse gas reductionmeasures, while allowing those measures to move forward in the future, when the California economy improves.

Environmental Injustice in the U.S. and Recommendations for Eliminating Disparities

Civil Rights Law

This report and its recommendations provide a roadmap for the Obama Ad-ministration to move forward the goal of ensuring equal treatment under the law for all communities and to provide focus and attention on those communities – low-income, indigenous, and people of color communities – whose lives are threatened by environ-mental assaults of every kind. As the country grapples with the current oil spill disaster in the Gulf Coast, we look forward to discussions with the Obama Administration and its various agencies on protecting environmental justice communities. Now is the Time to achieve environ-mental justice and we are delighted to offer this report toward reaching that goal.

Toxic Waste and Race at 20

Toxic Wastes at 20Twenty years ago, the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice (CRJ) published a decisive report exposing the gross disregard for people of color as toxic waste landills were sited in their communities throughout the nation. Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States proved to be a critical foundation for environmental justice movement that continues today. Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty marks the anniversary of widespread public reaction to this appaling demonstration of racism. So the best way to observe the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking report, Toxic Wastes and Race, is by continuing the struggle for environmental justice today. To celebrate its birthday and to honor Earth Day weekend, on Saturday, April 21, we urge you not only to plant trees or clean up our parks but also join the people of devastated communictes across the county in their fight to stamp out environmental racism and economic justice.  

Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States

Toxic Waste and Race Original Cover

The original breakthrough report that brought environmental justice to national attention this, 1987 report is made available here for research purposes. See also the companion report issued 20 years later.

From the original report:

"Recently, there has been unprecedented national concern over the problem of hazardous wastes. This concern has been focused upon the adverse environmental and health effects of toxic chemicals and other hazardous substances emanating from operating hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities as well as thousands of abandoned waste sites. Efforts to address this issue, however, have largely ignored the specific concerns of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans. Unfortunately, racial and ethnic Americans are far more likely to be unknowing victims of exposure to such substances. This report presents findings from two cross-sectional studies on demographic patterns associated with (1) commercial hazardous waste facilities and (2) uncontrolled toxic waste sites."

Environmental Justice and the Green Economy


EJ Green EconomyA Vision Statement and Case Studies for Just and Sustainable Solutions

As we complete this report, the nation awaits action on a comprehensive climate change bill, and the Stimulus begins to inject billions of dollars into a troubled economy. For those of us who have been working at the intersection of sustainability and social justice – what we call environmental justice – this moment in history presents not only unprecedented challenges, but new opportunities. It offers an open door to policy makers, civic leaders, and funders to build new community capacities and practices that can result in greater sustainability and justice, at the same time. This report describes a shared vision for a just and sustainable economy, and highlights grassroots environmental justice successes in our communities. We hope to stimulate discussion and build consensus around the idea that sustainability and justice must be simultaneous results; that one simply cannot happen without the other.


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