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Environmental Injustice

WHEREAS, the NAACP recognizes environmental justice as a civil rights issue; and

WHEREAS, the principles of civil rights law and equal protection guarantee all people the right to live in a safe and healthy environment, the right to equal environmental protection and the right to environmental justice despite recent judicial decisions seeking to limit these civil rights guarantees; and

WHEREAS, environmental injustice originates from historical housing segregation that racially divided America's cities and created a pattern whereby African-American neighborhoods were neglected, blighted and unequally overburdened with adverse environmental conditions; and

WHEREAS, environmental injustice was exacerbated by decades of discriminatory land use, planning, and zoning decisions by local government, that served to perpetuate historical racial segregation by failing to afford protection to African-American neighborhoods equal to the protection afforded to white neighborhoods, and thereby encouraging incompatible industrial uses to concentrate in African-American neighborhoods; and

WHEREAS, environmental injustice continues today in discriminatory citing decisions by corporate entities and discriminatory permitting and enforcement decisions by environmental regulatory agencies, that has resulted in the racial disparities in exposure to environmental hazards now prevalent in America.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms its 1993 Health Policy on Environmental Health; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP recognizes environmental injustice as the result of discriminatory environmental decision-making, as well as historical racial segregation, discriminatory zoning and land use, and unequal treatment, which together explain why race, rather than income, determines where toxic facilities are sited and whether environmental laws are enforced; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP declares that the right to live in a safe and healthy environment is a civil right that no person should have to sacrifice for economic security or employment; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP opposes the recent backlash in the Federal courts that limits a person's right to seek legal redress for civil rights violations based on environmental disparities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP, through direct action, litigation, enactment of legislation and coalition building, supports the right to live in a safe and healthy environment as a civil right; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP, through direct action, litigation, enactment of legislation, and coalition building, fights:

  1. against actions or decisions that unequally distribute  environmentally hazardous facilities or risks;
  2. against actions or decisions that result in racial disparities in environmental protection or exposure;
  3. against environmental actions or decisions that perpetuate racial segregation;
  4. against activities which overburden the environment where they live; and
  5. for enforceable legal and political remedies for environmental justice.
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