Our watershed is shared by more than 18 million people, and it is more diverse than ever. Why does this matter for CBF? Put simply, we believe everyone has the right to clean water and a saved Bay where they can live, work, and play safely. Unfortunately, not everyone experiences this privilege.
That’s why we’re committed to intentionally increasing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in our own organization and throughout the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort.
Intolerance and hate make saving the Bay harder. They destroy the collective spirit and social fabric that are absolutely essential to implement the scale and scope of efforts necessary to reduce pollution and restore the Bay. They also undermine why we are saving the Bay. Our work for clean water is focused on improving the health and well-being of our communities—clean water means little if its benefits are only reserved for a few.
We know it’s not enough to just have empathy for those who experience intolerance, hate, and systemic barriers to their well-being. We’re committed to making the changes we want to see, starting with our own organization.
To increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation will:
- Recruit and retain a staff, board, and membership that reflect the diversity of people living within the Chesapeake Bay region;
- Strengthen and broaden the diversity of our partnerships;
- Celebrate and value the diversity of staff; and
- Fight to ensure that everyone has equal access to clean water, clean air, and a safe environment.
What Do We Mean When We Say Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice?
Diversity: The vast array of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, cultures, perspectives, incomes, and countless other characteristics that make the more than 18 million people who live in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed unique as communities and individuals.
Equity: Recognizing that these differences shape how we experience the world and the watershed, including systemic advantages or barriers in accessing resources and opportunities—for example, access to clean water and air, green spaces, environmental education, careers in science and environmental organizations, and participation in public decision-making processes, to name a few—and intentionally making resources and opportunities available to everyone according to their need so each person has a fair chance to thrive.
Inclusion: Ensuring a sense of belonging, value, safety, and respect for all. This means actively and meaningfully engaging, celebrating, and amplifying the voices, perspectives, and needs of those who, due to their identities, have been systemically excluded from and underrepresented in the decision-making processes, institutions, and civic movements affecting the environmental and social well-being of their communities.
Justice: Working actively to stop environmental injustices that cause disproportionate pollution and harm to the watershed’s communities of color and those that are economically under-resourced, dismantle unfair systems, and support communities to lead and participate in the decision-making processes that affect their environmental and social well-being.
Racism Hurts the Bay
Blog Post June 5, 2020
Racism makes saving the Bay harder. It destroys the collective spirit and social fabric that is absolutely essential to implement the scale and scope of efforts necessary to reduce pollution and restore the Bay. More importantly, racism undermines why we are saving the Bay. Clean water improves the health and wellbeing of our communities. Racism destroys our communities. Clean water means little when its benefits are only reserved for a few.
We know it’s not enough to just have empathy for those who experience racism and live with its legacy every day. In our own organization, we have made commitments to make the changes we want to see. We are taking steps, but we have a long way to go.
Read the full blog post
CBF is engaged in a multitude of efforts to ensure that communities of people of color or lower income residents aren't disproportionately harmed by pollution and other environmental threats.
Find out more
CBF Environmental Justice Staff Attorney Taylor Lilley was featured in an April 2023 Washington Informer article "Environmentalism Has Many Faces." From the article:
On supporting community voices: “A lot of the work that we’ve done can be traced back to just people paying attention and refusing to be shut out of spaces—people supporting other community members, people not ignoring each other. Not everything has to be legal intervention. Sometimes support, advocacy and paying attention is just as important as being able to actually file a comment letter.”
Forty Years of Environmental Justice: Where is the Justice?
In May 2022, an article by CBF Vice President of Litigation Jon Mueller and Environmental Justice Staff Attorney Taylor Lilley was published in the Public Interest Law Review. "Forty Years of Environmental Justice: Where is the Justice?" examines the history of environmental justice (or EJ) primarily through the lens of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the White House, and evaluates the progress made in terms of regulations and permitting. It also examines recent administrative and judicial decisions addressing EJ claims and, in conclusion, provides recommendations for ways in which EJ issues can be better presented and addressed. Read the article
Equity and Inclusion In Action
Following are stories about how we are putting our beliefs into action in our local communities.
Enhancing the Environmental Justice Policy in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released a draft update of its Environmental Justice Policy. Among other things, the policy addresses how DEP will consider the impacts of its decisions on people living in lower income and BIPOC communities, the permit review process, how EJ can be included in the state's climate action plan, and more.
Environmental Justice, More Than Just A Check Mark
"Environmental justice is not merely a box to be checked," wrote Judge Stephanie Thacker in her opinion striking down a permit for a proposed natural gas compressor station in the historic, predominantly African American community of Union Hill in Buckingham County, Virginia.
Freeish Since 1865
Juneteenth is a reminder that we must keep digging, deeper and deeper, until we have uprooted anti-Black racism in America and beyond.
Greening Southside Richmond00:04:07
In formerly redlined neighborhoods, community groups and CBF are planting trees at sites suffering from extreme heat linked to racially-motivated housing discrimination that occurred decades ago.
Formerly Redlined Areas of Richmond Are Going Green
Excessive heat, discriminative housing practices, and trees are three things that may not immediately seem connected, but in Richmond, Virginia, their connection is coming to light.
Clean Water is a Right: Equity and Environmental Justice Around the Bay01:01:11
In this webinar, CBF staff and a panel of elected leaders and community advocates offer their perspectives on recent environmental justice victories around the Bay watershed. They also discuss where this critical conversation needs to go in the coming years.
From the Ground Up
For more than 40 years, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Clagett Farm has provided free, fresh produce to people living in poverty and near-poverty in Washington, D.C. The project, a collaboration with Capital Area Food Bank, blends local, sustainable organic agriculture with social justice. CBF calls the program, "From the Ground Up."
Environmental Justice in Rural VirginiaJuly 17, 2020 00:04:28
Hear from the people of Charles City County, Virginia, a rural community east of Richmond being targeted for two large new natural gas plants and a pipeline expansion.
July 16, 2020
Clean air should be a top priority for EPA. But the agency is ignoring the science yet again, putting human health and water quality at risk by refusing to strengthen standards for particulate matter pollution.
New Courses Aim to Help Teachers Inspire Environmental, Social Justice Advocacy in Students
July 15, 2020
As part of our Chesapeake Classrooms professional learning program, we're offering a timely new course for teachers focused on the intersection of two of the most important issues we face today—protecting the environment and advancing social justice.
Trump Administration’s New Rules Subvert Goals of Environmental Review Law
July 15, 2020
CBF denounces the Trump administration for subverting the goals of the National Environmental Policy Act.
In a Win for the Bay, Atlantic Coast Pipeline Cancelled
July 13, 2020
In a landmark victory for the environment and people across the watershed, earlier this month Dominion Energy and Duke Energy announced they are cancelling the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project
Environmental Justice Projects Take Hold
June 30, 2020
With CBF's help, residents in low-income sections of three southcentral Pennsylvania cities continued to make the most of opportunities to improve local water quality, reduce flooding, and beautify their neighborhoods.
Approval of Groundwater Withdrawal Permit Raises Concerns about Drinking Water
June 29, 2020
The Virginia State Water Control Board approved a groundwater withdrawal permit for the proposed Chickahominy Power Station in Charles City County, Virginia.
CBF and Partners Return to Court to Protect Successful Limits on Toxic Emissions From Power Plants
June 19, 2020
CBF announces its participation in litigation challenging the Trump administration’s unwarranted reversal of the legal foundation for limiting emissions of mercury and other toxic air pollutants from fossil fuel-fired power plants.
CBF Opposes EPA’s Dangerous Reversal on Mercury and Air Toxics Rule
April 16, 2020
EPA’s finding that it is no longer “appropriate and necessary” to limit toxic air emissions from coal- and oiled-fired power plants is irresponsible and carries dangerous implications not only for the Chesapeake Bay, but for future regulation of all hazardous pollutants.
Environmental Court Win Comes at Pivotal TIme in Virginia
January 15, 2020
A major court win last week for the people of Union Hill could help move the needle in the right direction for Virginia to meaningfully apply environmental justice.
CBF has Pride00:00:27
CBF is honored to be a sponsor of Annapolis Pride since its inception. Join us in the 2019 Pride parade.
The Great Baltimore Oyster Partnership
The Partnership was created to connect the Baltimore business community and residents to their Harbor in ways that engage and inspire stewardship for the local waterway, wildlife and Chesapeake Bay restoration. There are many barriers associated with accessibility to the water; including transportation, awareness and overall acceptance. By connecting residents to their Harbor through hands on restoration connections are made to what was previously perceived as a lifeless environment.
Expanding Urban Tree Canopy and Green Infrastructure
CBF's Hopewell Restoration Project is adding important green infrastructure practices to Hopewell's environs to reduce flooding and polluted runoff, and create additional green space for its more than 23,000 diverse residents.
Latina STEM Participants Get Introduced to the Chesapeake Bay00:00:56
Two students in the Pathways to Science program, twins Keyli and Jalyn Jimenez Garcia, share their CBF summer education experience.
Summertime Learning, Brock Center Style
Students from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds spent summer days at CBF's Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach. The students were participants in An Achievable Dream, Pathways to Science, and The Virginia Wesleyan Environmental Institute’s Summer Scholars programs.
Speaking the Bay's Language
Dr. Lorelly Solano moved to Maryland from Costa Rica in 2008 to study green infrastructure in graduate school. Now she's sharing her passion for the Bay and the environment with a new generation of immigrants and Spanish-speaking citizens on the Eastern Shore.
Heaven on Herring Creek
Out on the water, it seems like a magic moment could always lie just around the bend. Kenny Fletcher shares his day fishing with Richmond Hispanic leaders on Virginia's Herring Creek.
Environmental JusticeMay 10, 2017 Episode 55 | 00:25.50
In this episode, CBF President Will Baker and Litigation Fellow Alayna Chuney discuss the importance of a healthy environment for all.