AAEA has a very long history of working on environmental justice. We participated in all of the early environmental justice activities at the beginning of the EJ movement. We were there at EPA at the meetings that led to the establishment of the Office of Environmental Justice. We were there to feature the Toxics Waste and Waste Report at an ceremony on Capitol Hill. We were there for the First People of Color Environmental Justice Conference in 1992. We drafted the first comprehensive report on pollution in our nation's capital. AAEA was founded in 1985 to directly and unapologetically address environmental issues in the Black community. We continue to do so.
AAEA has two environmental justice projects: 1) Environmental Justice Coalition and 2) Environmental Justice Blog. The EJ Coalition is dedicated to passing a National Environmental Justice Act. It also works to pass EJ laws at state and local l levels.
Significantly, AAEA wrote the EJ law for New York City and recruited then New York City Council member Charles Barron to introduce the legislation. We worked with Councilman Barron's wife, Inez, to get the legislation reintroduced. AAEA led the fight to get the legislation passed by the the New York City Council and it was signed into law by New York City Mayor Bill De Basio on April 26, 2017.
A 21st Century environmental justice model is needed to achieve equality in environmental protection. These Ten Principles of Environmental Justice were developed to facilitate a discussion about the need to accelerate activities and programs to protect vulnerable communities. The principles are also a guidance tool for evaluating and implementing practical solutions to environmental justice problems.
AAEA developed Principles of Environmental Justice.
1) Environmental Justice seeks to provide environmental protection to our most vulnerable communities.
2) Environmental Justice demands that public policy will protect society’s most vulnerable communities.
3) Environmental Justice should provide equal economic opportunities to all sectors of our society while providing equal environmental protection.
4) Environmental Justice calls for sustainable development, efficient use of resources and the availability of abundant energy supplies at reasonable prices.
5) Environmental Justice requests respect in policy decision-making in order to distribute production facilities that emit contaminates equitably among geographical locations
6) Environmental Justice demands that toxic wastes should not be targeted for and concentrated in minority communities.
7) Environmental Justice should expand the definition of ‘environment’ and seek to redress unique inner city environmental problems.
8) Environmental Justice affirms a commitment to equal environmental protection for all people.
9) Environmental Justice should provide compensation to individuals and communities that have suffered disproportionate exposure to pollution.
10) Environmental Justice and The Declaration of Independence, hold “that all Men are created equal, that they were endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Environmental protection is an unalienable right.
Developed by the African American Environmentalist Association.
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