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What Environmental Justice in Action is All About

2012 April 19

By Mustafa Ali

Nothing brings about change faster than when local communities get involved and organize to improve the conditions in their cities, towns, and neighborhoods.  Over the years, I have travelled to  communities across the country, where the impacts of pollution and public health problems are all too real. On each of these visits, I have been struck by what a difference it makes when residents are involved in the environmental decision-making and have a voice in designing a vision for the future in the places they call home.

Community engagement is a key tenant of environmental justice and why it is so important that we have a place to share our stories, or successes, and our expertise.  It is our hope that this blog will support the online community of advocates working for environmental justice and create a space where we can highlight the positive activities happening in communities to reduce environmental and health disparities. Organizations, businesses and citizens throughout America are trying a wide range of approaches to advance environmental justice. We want to capture these good ideas and connect them to others across the country.

Additionally, many government agencies offer resources for overburdened communities, but it can seem daunting to locate them all. And, since EPA’s Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, promoted environmental justice as one of her top priorities, there has been important progress at EPA and other federal agencies to address environmental justice concerns and expand the benefits of government programs in low-income and minority communities. Environmental Justice in Action! will also serve as a space where we can share information about the resources, tools, and programs available to help achieve healthy and sustainable communities.

My goal for this blog is to make this a resource for you and to provide an opportunity for everyone to join the conversation on environmentalism.  So, it is important that we hear from you! Let us know what types of information would be most useful and interesting to you.What do you want to learn more about? Please post your thoughts and comments here and on future posts to help us better design this blog to meet your needs. While the government can provide support and assist in building capacity in communities, putting environmental justice into action takes you!

About the author: Mustafa Ali currently serves as the Associate Director of Communications for EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. He has been a national speaker, trainer and facilitator on social justice issues for the past 20 years and focused on the issue of environmental justice for the past 19 years.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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21 Responses leave one →
  1. Arman.- permalink
    April 19, 2012

    Religions Approach.-

    All of the people in the world who need environmental justice are praise to The God and believed its help out their life. Join with the leaders of religions could be success for EPA’s mission.-

  2. Laura permalink
    April 19, 2012

    There are organizations out there where religious institutions come together to work on environmental education and action. Check out

  3. Bob Wheeler permalink
    April 19, 2012

    I agree that efforts within our most challenged communites can really pay off. I’d like to see articles about what companies are doing to bring eco-jobs to the innercity. I can’t think of a better way to instill dignity and pride in a community then to give people an opportunity to work and learn new skills while earning a fair wage.

  4. Melvin M. Lusterio permalink
    April 20, 2012

    Environmental Justice gives way to Paradise Regained. This is an excellent way of doing good things to nature.

  5. Tanya permalink
    April 20, 2012

    Environmental Topics For Consideration:

    * Pros and Cons of Living In A Community Located Near a Garbage Dump
    * Most Common Environmental Hazards…For The Non-Environmentally Aware
    * How To Get Local Businesses Involved In Cleaning The Environment
    * Top 5 Threats To Drinking Water Safety, And What To Do About It

  6. Ruža Helać permalink
    April 21, 2012

    The Green Patrol in action – S02E06 – Prijepolje – A river of life that carries death with it

  7. Maria permalink
    April 25, 2012

    It is great to see that EPA and the Federal, State & Local governments and Business are finally interested in addressing such a worthy issue. It is refreshing to read the stories on here and your website about the positive stories that are happening all over the country – we need to here about more of them…

    I heard Mr. Ali give a memorable speech a number of years ago and his words inspired me to get involved with the local issues in my city and learn how many stakeholders are working in a collaborative fashion to create healthy communities for all citizens. My church now focuses on EJ issues and many of our members regularly volunteer with community service projects and local non profits. I don’t often get to say “Good Job” to our government but this time I will!

  8. Reverend Thomas permalink
    April 30, 2012

    As a Republican, Historian and a Minister I am happy to see that EPA is focusing on collaborative processes that can yield positive results in communities. I think many don’t know that it was a “Republican Administration” that started Environmental Equity/Justice at EPA. I feel that these issues should be non-partisan, because it gives us a chance to strengthen our country by assisting those neighborhoods and communities in greatest need. It is time for us to move beyond preconceived ideas and political rhetoric and support programs and strategies that can help our brothers and sisters who are trying to live in healthier communities.

    How could those of us who call ourselves “Christians” not support these types of initiatives? If more of us would just stop and think, “What would Jesus do”??? I think most would agree that being open to supporting environmental justice is the right thing to do. May God bless our great country!

    • Robert Murphy permalink
      December 27, 2013

      On several occasions, Jesus of Nazareth asked strangers to provide a drink of water, food, or shelter. On Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph begged for shelter…. Imagine the situation in today’s world. Jesus comes to town and asks for a drink of water. One guy says, “You want water? I’ll sell it to you for two dollars for a small bottle.”
      Somebody else says, “What makes you so special? Nobody has a right to clean drinking water.” The sign at the grocery store says,
      “Restrooms for customers only.” A sad day for Jesus! Maybe some of the churches can discuss the situation.

  9. kolp permalink*
    April 30, 2012

    Thank you for your suggestions. We are planning on writing about many of the things that have been proposed here, and will consider all of these topics. We appreciate your feedback and perspectives, it helps us greatly!

  10. William Ryder permalink
    July 13, 2012

    I really enjoy your blog and the videos that are being shared. Keep up the good work!

  11. Katherine permalink
    July 13, 2012

    Great idea creating this blog – the stories that you are sharing are filled with great information.

  12. Roy Lee permalink
    July 18, 2012

    I have to second what others have said- this is one of the best Blog sites I have visited- Keep sharing these inspiring stories- especially the ones from communities.

  13. Maria permalink
    July 27, 2012

    I’m a conservative on most issues and not easily impressed by most social initiatives. I spent most of the evening reading your blogs and watching the video series and I must commend you on the richness of the content. It is so refreshing to see communities who have come together with others to make their neighborhoods great places to live. These are american success stories, taking tragedy in some instances and turning them into triumphs!

  14. Robert Regan permalink
    October 29, 2012

    I love this blog series it provides great information in a way that engages the reader. Almost every topic that I have questions about is covered and the videos you have added are very educational. Please continue to share this very important information, as a physician I find it very helpful in my practice.

    Dr. Regan

  15. Jimmy permalink
    March 14, 2013

    Mr. Ali your blog is a must read for anyone who cares about the environment, community development or public health. The diversity of issues and depth of information is refreshing.

  16. Robert permalink
    March 16, 2013

    I spent most of evening reading your blogs and watching the videos and I have to say, it is one of the most comprehensive and diverse blog sites I have seen. I have to agree with other commentors I have seen on here and will echo a great big thank you for creating this.


  17. Jane permalink
    August 6, 2013

    Continue to share these powerful and educational stories with the country. I’m glad you created this blog.

  18. Robert Murphy permalink
    December 27, 2013

    Environmental justice? We’re talking about a human rights movement that focuses its attention on the most basic of human needs. Including the right to inhale clean air, the right to safe drinking water, the right to be protected from chemical toxics in consumer products, etc. These human rights are so basic that they’re often ignored. Until something goes wrong. (You can live for decades without voting rights and many people have experienced that tragedy. How long can you live without oxygen?) The environmental justice advocates remind us that – as far as the basic needs needs are concerned – “all people are created equal.” The environmental justice people also tell us that, “All people are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” So, the environmental justice message should be easy to understand. Unfortunately, there are people, on both the political left and the
    political right, who don’t understand the environmental justice message. Most Americans have never heard the term “environmental justice.”

  19. Rhonda permalink
    January 11, 2014

    I had to search a little to find the beginning of this blog series but wanted to say thank you for such a diverse set of stories and educational tools that have been shared on here.

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