About Environmental Justice State by State

Grassroots advocates and policymakers around the country are engaged in groundbreaking work to address the legacy injustices of environmental racism. Environmental Justice State by State aims to amplify these efforts and support the advancement of environmental justice law and policy by providing access to information and highlighting emerging issues and strategies.

Environmental Justice State by State is a law library and database of environmental justice laws, policies, mapping tools, and state-recognized definitions associated with environmental justice across the fifty states and territories. The database is intended to be an accessible tool for community advocates, attorneys, academics, and policymakers at all levels to use in the adoption and advancement of environmental justice law and policy.

Environmental Justice State by State was conceived of by the following core group who have each contributed leadership, vision, and research direction to the project: Ana Isabel Baptista, Ph.D.; Steven Bonorris, Esq.; Amy Laura Cahn, Esq.; Marianne Engelman-Lado, Esq.; Mia Montoya Hammersley, Esq.; Kelly Haragan, Esq.; Fredrick Francis Ole Ikayo; Adrienne Perovich, MPA; Rachel Stevens, Esq.; Anna Yulsman; and William Snape III, Esq.

The project has been supported by extensive student research. A list of student contributors can be found here.

Environmental Justice State by State is a collaboration of the following participating institutions and partners:

  • American University
  • Environmental Justice Clinic at Vermont Law & Graduate School
  • Tishman Environment and Design Center at The New School
  • UC College of the Law, San Francisco
  • University of Texas School of Law, Environmental Clinic

The following organizations have provided additional support: Conservation Law Foundation, Lone Star Legal Aid, and Taproot Earth.

The project is inspired by and builds on the prior national-scale effort: Environmental Justice for All: A Fifty State Survey of Legislation, Policies and Cases, most recently published by the UC College of the Law, San Francisco and the American Bar Association in 2010.

The project is funded by:

  • The National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • GRACE Communications Foundation
  • Cancer Free Economy Network


The information in Environmental Justice State by State was drawn from a review of state legislative and legal databases, agency websites, news articles, and reports. Students from participating institutions contacted public officials in every state and territory and were able to vet information through phone, video, or email surveys with officials from 28 states and the District of Columbia. The inclusion of information on this website is only reflective of its continuing existence “on the books” and is not a reflection of its effectiveness or continued enforcement. The data included on this website is current as of July 31, 2022.

Information collected for each state includes the following:

  • Environmental justice advisories
  • Environmental justice coordinators and/or coordinating agencies
  • Environmental justice screening or mapping tools
  • Laws, executive orders, and policies that directly address environmental justice in the following ways:
    • Establishes environmental justice as a policy of the environmental agency or across all agencies
    • Establishes definitions of environmental justice or environmental justice population or community.
    • Mandates enhanced public participation related to environmental justice
    • Mandates consideration of environmental justice in permitting.
    • Mandates consideration of environmental justice in environmental enforcement, including remedies.
    • Mandates consideration of environmental justice in land use matters (not relating to permitting decisions) (e.g. planning, remediation of brownfields, etc.).
    • Mandates distribution of dedicated funding to environmental justice communities or for environmental justice projects.
    • Any additional environmental justice mandates not covered by the above categories.
  • Civil rights protections, e.g. prohibiting disparate impact discrimination
  • Statutes or constitutional amendments establishing environmental rights
  • State-level analogs of the National Environmental Policy Act (“mini-NEPAs”)
  • Language access policies
  • Mandates for consultation with Indigenous communities and Tribal Nations
  • Environmental justice policies established by departments of transportation

The database is searchable by state and territory, law type, category, and keyword. The database is accompanied by a directory of state and territory “snapshots” providing a narrative overview, providing additional information, as relevant.