Environmental Justice

wheelabrator drone - CBF Staff - 695x352

Air pollution from Baltimore's Wheelabrator trash incinerator causes $55 million annually in health problems.

Photo Credit: Rob Beach/CBF Staff

Everyone Deserves Clean Water, Clean Air, and a Safe Environment

What Is Environmental Justice?

Environmental justice refers to the effort to ensure that people with lower incomes and BIPOC communities aren't disproportionately harmed by pollution and other environmental threats. There's a long history of undesirable facilities (think landfills, trash incinerators, or coal plants) being built where people have the least power—all too often communities with low incomes or largely BIPOC.

Clean water, clean air, and a safe environment are rights we all share.

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

Here are a few of the ways CBF is working to ensure that everyone has equal access to clean water, clean air, and a safe environment.

  • CBF Environmental Justice Staff Attorney Taylor Lilley.

    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.

  • A river cuts through a forest in York County, Pennsylvania.

    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.

  • Three tree-planting volunteers pose with their tools

    Greening Southside Richmond

    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.

  • A Residential Security map of Richmond is colored green, blue, yellow, and red.

    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.

  • CBF's Jay Ford starts the webinar

    Clean Water is a Right: Equity and Environmental Justice Around the Bay

    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.

  • Environmental Justice in Rural Virginia

    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.

  • Dirty Air

    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

  • rafiyqa muhammad rain garden

    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.

  • Environmental Justice

    In this episode, CBF President Will Baker and Litigation Fellow Alayna Chuney discuss the importance of a healthy environment for all.

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