Environmental Justice and Climate Change


The impact of environmental injustice in the United States has long been felt in Black and other communities of color. On the day of his assassination, Martin Luther King was in Memphis to assist striking garbage workers in their fight against environmental and economic injustice. Many of these communities have seen little or no significant change.

A 2012 Yale University study[1] showed, that exposure to pollutants can be tied to higher incidence of asthma, cardiovascular disease, lung disease and cancer. Landfills and industrial facilities tend to be located in close proximity to communities of color. A further risk is posed by the segregation of minority workers in hazardous jobs. The editors of Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices from the Grassroots, cite unemployment, poverty and a lack of economic infrastructure as key factors that have historically placed Black communities at risk for exploitation by industries that pollute. Further examples of the effects of environmental injustice include the devastation experienced by low-income and communities of color by climate change. Hurricane Katrina, the 2017 hurricanes in Texas and Florida, as well as the ongoing Flint Michigan water crisis all serve as sad reminders of the economic, health and psychological impact that failing infrastructure, climate change, housing and environmental racism continue to have on our communities.

Environmental justice is defined by the EPA 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. The GBC, in collaboration with DA and the DNC, strives to ensure that this level of protection is continually afforded Black and disadvantaged communities.

We oppose attempts by the current or any other administration to hinder or undo legislation that addresses environmental inequality in at-risk communities. The GBC supports Democrats at federal, state and local level who engage with and legislate for environmental justice in our communities.

Environmental justice represents an important point of intersection associate with further topics covered in this document. We seek to engage, educate and facilitate discussions that highlight the necessity for legislative policies that provide equal access to the decision-making process and ensure healthy and thriving communities for all Americans.


[1] Environmental Inequality in Exposures to Airborne Particulate Matter Components in the United States, Michelle L. Bell and Keita Ebisu, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health U.S. Department of Health and Human Services., 10 August 2012