American Bar Association


Who We Are

The committee works to achieve the goal of environmental justice through advocacy and education, and by linking resources to needs. The committee also engages in initiatives directed toward educating law students, providing training to attorneys, and promoting the availability of quality legal services to those with environmental justice issues.

Message From The Chair

This year, under the theme of "Redefining Environmental Justice in the 21st Century," the ABA Environmental Justice Committee aims to create programs and publications that address the concerns of legal remedies as well as disproportionate social and environmental impacts of the law on communities of color. These topics bring in a wealth of legal, social, moral, remedial, preemptive, and advocacy issues that actually do redefine and improve justice for vulnerable populations. By the middle part of the 21st century, everyone will be part of that population.

The Committee will seek to address, among other issues:

  • How can we use Section 1983 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to obtain environmental justice for communities of color;
  • Urging the EPA to timely process environmental justice discrimination complaints, especially because Title VI disparate impact discrimination is only enforceable administratively and not through a private right of action;
  • Dealing with Middlesex County Sewage Authority v. National Sea Clammers Ass’n, 453 U.S. 1 (1981) and Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275 (2001);
  • Addressing environmental justice issues specific to indigenous populations;
  • Studying blight, urban renewal, and the environmental justice implications of legacy industrial toxicity and failing infrastructure; and
  • Encouraging meaningful corporate social responsibility practices that consider the implications of environmental justice.

Recent Environmental Justice Cases and News

Environmental Racism is the New Jim Crow

In this video from The Atlantic staff writer Vann R. Newkirk II argues that discrimination in public planning is to blame for disproportionate rates of lead poisoning, asthma, and environmental harm.

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE PANEL @ Howard University College of Law

The Environmental Justice Committee panel held at Howard University's School of Law addressed initiatives and strategies for environmental justice as well as career opportunities in the field. In addition to the recording of the program, the documents referred to in the discussion can be accessed below:

The Love Canal Tragedy

Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations

Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice and Executive Order 12898 (2011).

EJ Legal Tools

EJ 2020 Action Agenda: EPA’s Environmental Justice Strategy


Reflections of Community Organizers: Lawyering for Empowerment of Community Organizations

BREAKING GROUND AT STANDING ROCK: The Dakota Access Pipeline and Environmental Justice

Click above to listen to the recent teleconference and learn about the most recent developments in the Standing Rock case. Please scroll down to Recent Programming. Additional information on the speakers and the subject can also be found at Earthjustice and the Lakota People's Law Project

DAPL Scoping for EIS: Submit a Comment

On January 18th, the Department of the Army published the Notice of Intent to require an Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register. The EIS must consider tribal treaty rights, natural resources, cultural and sacred places, socio-economical concerns, environmental justice, and the health and wellbeing of those downstream. The Department of the Army's Civil Works division is accepting public comment until February 20th, 2017. For more information, click here

Unearthing Clean Energy | TEDxOcala | Nadia Ahmad

20-year-old Baltimore woman wins international award for taking out giant trash incinerator

Destiny Watford, who helped rally the Curtis Bay community in Baltimore against the construction of a large trash incinerator, was announced as a 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize winner for community leadership. Baltimore has more deaths caused by air pollution than any other city in the U.S. Watford's four-year campaign helped to halt the incinerator's construction indefinitely.

Special Video Presentation: The Trump effect on energy and environment law, manufacturing

In partnership with E&E News, the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources presented a discussion of what a Trump administration might mean for the energy and environment legal landscape.

The U.S. District Court in Oregon rules Constitutional climate case brought by 21 youths can go to trial

Twenty-one plaintiffs, ranging in age from 9 to 20, are suing the federal government to demand increased efforts on climate change. The federal court rejected the government's motion to dismiss the case. Click here for more information on details of the proceedings, the plaintiffs, and court orders and major pleadings.

EPA commits to enforcing environmental justice in EJ2020 Action Agenda

The EPA announced its commitment to protecting communities of color from disproportionate exposure to environmental pollutants. This is the agency's second national initiative since the Executive Order 12898 targeting civil rights in enforcement and decision-making process.

Join Us



Ahmad, Nadia


Bergeron, Emily G
Orr, Jeremy
Trager, Stephanie

Committee Roster  

Committee Work Plan and Call Notes

Environmental Justice Resources

Sites of Interest

Click here to find a list of helpful EJ links and resources.

Programs, Meetings and Events

Committee Events

BREAKING GROUND AT STANDING ROCK: The Dakota Access Pipeline and Environmental Justice

April 13, 2017
As the DAPL battle continues, this teleconference will address the systemic problems in the environmental and cultural resources review processes, particularly as applied to Native American Nations. It will further address the precedent being set through the legal and political landscape for Native American environmental conflicts and the challenges that lie ahead.


April 13, 2017
@ Howard University School of Law: Learn more about initiatives and strategies for Environmental Justice and gain insight into environmental justice career opportunities.
Section Events

    McWilliams v. Dunn: Ake & Access to Mental Health Expert for Alabama Death Row Inmate?


    The event will be held on 09/28/2017. The format is Web. The event sponsor(s) are Death Penalty Representation Project,Human Rights,Center for Professional Development,Criminal Justice Section,Commission On Disability Rights,Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division,Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division,Health Law Section,Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice,Death Penalty Due Process Review Project,Division for Public Services. The event has 1.50 CLE Credits .

    A False Sense of Relief: Analyzing Mental Health Trauma in Refugee Communities


    PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Approximately 65 million refugees around the world have sought to escape the dangerous areas and traumatizing experiences they called home. They reached makeshift camps and detention centers seeking safety and security. The trauma, however, does not stop at these shelters' doors. ...

    Civil Commitment: A Way to Address America’s Opioid Crisis?


    The event will be held on 10/05/2017. The format is Web. The event sponsor(s) are Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs,Youth at Risk Advisory Commission,Center for Professional Development,Criminal Justice Section,Commission On Disability Rights,Center on Children and the Law,Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division,Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division,Health Law Section,Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice,Section of State and Local Government Law,Division for Public Services,Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants,Senior Lawyers Division. The event has 1.50 CLE Credits .

Modified by Emily Bergeron on July 1, 2017

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