Date of Award


Degree Type



Environmental Science


John Van Buren


It can be argued that the birth of the Environmental Justice movement was 1982 in Warren County, North Carolina during a battle over the implementation of a PCB waste site. Unfortunately though, environmental injustices have been occurring throughout most of human history. The exploitation of minorities manifests itself in many ways, and one of those ways is through unhealthy and unsafe environmental conditions. These conditions are often the result of unfair policies which unjustly skew the burden of pollution and waste onto minority or low-income groups. These groups in particular often lack the financial resources or political power necessary to fight back. In the case of Warren County the community was comprised of primarily African-Americans when the state of North Carolina proposed the dumping of toxic waste in their town. Residents of Warren County decided that it was time for minorities to stand up against unfair environmental practices. Regrettably, the residents of Warren County lost their battle, but it ignited a movement that has since grown drastically.

This essay will explore the Environmental Justice Movement from a few different viewpoints. Firstly, the ethical arguments and principles associated with the Environmental Justice Movement will be investigated. Secondly, case studies of organizations involved in Environmental Justice in the United States will examined. By looking closely at a couple sample organizations one can get an in-depth look at the way environmental justice issues are identified, approached, and resolved. Lastly, this essay will evaluate the validity and practicality of the Environmental Justice Movement and its future as an American social movement.