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2000 - Indigenous Environmental Network starts the Mining Campaign Project to address unsustainable mining and oil development on native lands.

2000 - The North Carolina state assembly releases $7 million to begin detoxification of Warren County's PCB landfill.

2000 - Macon County Citizens for a Clean Environment stages a successful campaign to prevent construction of a large landfill near campus of historic Tuskegee University.

2001 - Native American activists and their allies succeed in preventing siting of a nuclear waste dump in Ward Valley, California, after 10 years of struggle.

2001 - Residents of toxics-contaminated areas of Anniston, Alabama, win a $42.8 settlement against Monsanto, as well as relocation of their community due to PCB contamination.

2001 - U.N. Commission on Human Rights lists living free of pollution as a basic human right.

2002 - Second People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit held in Washington, D.C.

2002 - Shell agrees to buy out and relocate residents of the Diamond community of Norco, Louisiana, due to contamination.

2003 - New York State Department of Environmental Conservation adopts a new policy requiring environmental justice reviews before the issuance of permits.

2005 - Congress passes an amendment to the EPA's appropriations bill directing the agency not to spend any congressionally appropriated funds in a manner that contravenes Executive Order 12898 or delays its implementation.

2005 - More than 45 environmental justice and mainstream environmental groups, including NRDC, oppose the EPA's attempt to eliminate "race" and "income" as a focus of its environmental justice efforts in its strategic plan.

2005 - Twenty-five Democrats in the Senate and House send a letter to the EPA for its failure to apply Executive Order 12898 in its flawed strategic plan for environmental justice.

2005 - At the request of Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-CA), the General Accounting Office releases a report finding that the EPA generally devoted little attention to environmental justice issues while drafting three significant clean air rules on gasoline, diesel and ozone between fiscal years 2000 and 2004.

Today, and Tomorrow

Many grassroots environmental justice organizations have formed since the dump trucks rolled into Afton, North Carolina, more than 20 years ago. Today, many of these groups have become strong and permanent forces for environmental protection and social change in their communities:

  • Concerned Citizens of South Central (Los Angeles), a housing and community development corporation that helped to lead the fight against the now infamous ANSWERS incinerator in the late 1980s, provides leadership on environmental issues and a range of other social justice issues.

  • West Harlem Environmental Action was created in 1998 to fight the siting of the North River Sewage Treatment Plant, and has gone on to spearhead action on many other environmental problems in New York City and New York State.

  • Through the Louisiana Avatar project under the coordination of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, rural parish communities in Louisiana's Cancer Alley have made major strides in publicizing, researching and intervening in hundreds of environmental actions to protect communities from further degradation and harm.

  • Mothers of East L.A., originally organized to stop the siting of a prison in the East Los Angeles community, turned its attention to opposing a hazardous waste incinerator and has subsequently taken on other local environmental and social issues.

Traditional environmental groups have also formed partnerships to support environmental justice organizations in many of their struggles. Groups such as NRDC often provide environmental justice organizations with technical advice and resources, supply expert testimony at hearings and join in litigation. These partnerships are ongoing success stories in many parts of the country.

Environmental justice continues to be an important part of the struggle to improve and maintain a clean and healthful environment, especially for those who have traditionally lived, worked and played closest to the sources of pollution.

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