Environmental Justice

A Black Staffer’s Noisy Exit from a Green NGO

Resignation letter at Union of Concerned Scientists calls out dominant white culture in large environmental organizations

On this Juneteenth, it is fitting to lift up and celebrate a recent, significant emancipatory act that until now has ramified little beyond the niche trade press. I refer here to the dramatic early June exit of 26-year-old Black staffer ruth tyson from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), via letter e-mailed to all staff …

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Environmentalists Can Help Address Racism Through Housing Policy

Restrictive local zoning affects both the environment and racial justice

As the United States grapples with issues of racism and police brutality in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, environmentalists need not be bystanders in the debate over solutions. As Claudia and Steve argued on this blog, environmentalism has multiple opportunities to help address institutional racism, though few issues …

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It’s just a start, necessary and long overdue

A February report shows green NGOs are adding diversity, but still have a long way to go

The callous killing of George Floyd by a white police officer; the shooting of Breonna Taylor in her bed by police executing a no-knock warrant; the pursuit and murder of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery by white vigilantes; a white woman calling police to intimidate black birder Christian Cooper, who asked her to follow Central Park …

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Green in Black and White

It’s Time to Show Up

My favorite opening line from any Earth Day speech ever was this: “Today, black and white, yellow and brown, we are all green.”  The speech was delivered three decades ago; the place was Times Square; and the speaker was David Dinkins, New York City’s first (and to date, only) African-American mayor.  How I wish his …

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Guest Contributors Helen Kang and Deborah Sivas: California Should Lead the Nation in Controlling Agricultural Pollution

Agricultural runoff in California

Protection of Drinking Water and Environmental Quality Demands Strong Action

Agricultural runoff is one of the largest sources of pollution in the nation’s waterways. In recent years, scientific journals and the media have been filled with reports of toxic algae blooms and dead zones near and far: The Everglades, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay, and San Francisco Bay-Delta. Agricultural pollution also threatens public …

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What Are The Benefits Of Phasing Out California’s Oil & Gas Production?

Emissions should decrease but multiple factors complicate any predictions

It might seem obvious that phasing out oil and gas production in California would benefit the climate. But the reality is much more complicated, in terms of emissions, economics and even geopolitics. CLEE just released the report Legal Grounds with policy options to reduce in-state production, but the question of how much a phase out …

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Coastal Beaches, Public Access & the Pandemic

Important Legal & Policy Considerations in Closing Beaches to Protect Public Health

As part of America’s steadily growing restiveness over state and local shelter-in-place directives, the issue of government-mandated public beach closures has recently emerged as a particularly contentious issue.  It’s especially prominent now, given that many coastal states are experiencing their first heat waves of 2020. Many Americans are increasingly weary of and angry over public …

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Roadmap For California To Phase Out Oil & Gas Production

New CLEE report released today with legal options for state policy makers & free May 12th webinar

California is the seventh-largest oil producing state in the country, with a fossil fuel industry that is responsible for billions of dollars in state and local revenue and other economic activity each year. Yet continued oil and gas production contrasts with the state’s aggressive climate mitigation policies, while creating significant air and water pollution, particularly …

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Asserting “Climate Necessity” in Defense of Civil Disobedience

Giving climate change activists a fair hearing in court

The first Earth Day, fifty years ago, was a product and catalyst of political movements that established bedrock environmental laws in the United States. Without decades of political activism, there would be no Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, or Endangered Species Act, nor would there be vigorous enforcement regimes to carry these laws out. …

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Flint Five Years On

What has happened with Flint’s drinking water?

The history of environmental policy can well be told by place names. Love Canal – hazardous waste. Los Angeles – air quality. The Cuyahoga River – water quality. And, most recently, Flint – drinking water. The tragedy in Flint, Michigan, entered the 24/7 national news cycle five years ago, led President Obama to visit the …

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