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For nearly thirty years, environmental justice has been part of our civic conversation and included in the mission of federal agencies. But while public attention to environmental justice has waxed and waned over time, environmental justice principles have endured and developed into rules of law. This development may be expected to continue and accelerate with recent events such as the nationwide outcry after the police killing of George Floyd in 2020, the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on people of color, and the express priorities of the Biden administration. This paper seeks to help legal practitioners and other interested parties comprehend the meaning and requirements of environmental justice, as revealed in part through developments in agency policy and case law over the last three decades. Through this understanding, legal counsel and community advocates may serve both their clients and the broader public interest as we collectively seek a more just society in a changing world.

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NYU Environmental Law Journal





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