The fight for environmental justice extends beyond the picket lines and protests. Every environmental injustice needs to be attacked and approached from a variety of angles including activism, scientific research, journalism, politics, and the law.
Over the course of our Plastic Free July 2020 – Thru a Different Lens series this month, we have highlighted some amazing organizations who are on the frontlines of the fight against environmental racism. These included the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Rise St. James and their fight to stop the Formosa petrochemical industrial facility in Cancer Alley and t.e.j.a.s. fighting for environmental justice in Texas.
This week we turn to organizations that are taking the fight to the courts. These organizations are working to make sure that our laws and policies protect, preserve, and promote environmental justice for people and planet. They are working to change the legal systems and prevent companies from dumping toxic waste in the air and water in communities predominately populated by BIPOC.
EarthJustice is a nonprofit public interest environmental law organization with a team of lawyers and expert legal strategists working against environmental injustice and litigating environmental issues. They not only work in the courtrooms they also partner with their clients to craft regulatory, legislative, and communications strategies to solidify the lasting impact of our legal victories.
Through litigation, they hold polluters, environmental justice offenders, decision-makers, and the government accountable for following environmental laws.
Their clients include Rise St. James, Beyond Plastics, and The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. We are particularly drawn to their work against petrochemicals.
The law makes change and EarthJustice is on the forefront.
The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) uses the power of law to protect the environment, promote human rights, and ensure a just and sustainable society. CIEL works on a variety of environmental issues at multiple levels, including plastics. Their specific work around the plastic crisis includes advocating for an international treaty on plastic pollution and other measures at the global level, supporting communities in local infrastructure fights to stop the plastics build-out, and exposing the deep impacts plastic has on our health, climate, and planet throughout its toxic lifecycle.
We highlighted the CIEL paper, “Plastic and Health: The Hidden Cost of a Plastic Planet” which we featured in this blog post: How Our Plastic and Carbon Footprints Are Intertwined. Reports such as these provide valuable research to activists, lawyers, and legislators.
What You Can Do: Environmental Justice and the Law
Get Informed and Raise Awareness
Stay informed and share the work of these important organizations. Follow Earthjustice on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and CIEL on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Advocate, loudly, for the work they are doing.
Make a charitable contribution to Earthjustice and CIEL to support their work. The costs of legal fees in fighting for environmental justice are massive and are often a major barrier to minority participation in the fight against environmental racism.
Contact Your Representatives
Your representatives in local, state, and federal government are voting on your behalf and for your values. They must hear from you that every vote they cast must be a vote for environmental justice and a better and healthier environment for everyone. Right now, you can contact your representative and ask them to co-sponsor the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act. And then commit to contacting them regularly!