Environmental Justice

By Enrique Saenz, Indiana Environmental Reporter
People across the U.S. are taking to the streets to protest racial inequity, saying that people of color experience a wholly different experience in the country than white Americans. New findings from a …

Calling their communities sacrifice zones for being home to hazardous waste storage sites, residents in a Detroit neighborhood are taking a stand.
Last week, residents with support from the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center filed a formal complaint …

Mass water shutoffs in Detroit following the city’s bankruptcy proceedings brought the issue of water affordability and water shutoffs into public notoriety in the U.S. in 2014.
The threat of COVID-19 brought the issue back to the forefront as th…

By Kristoffer Tigue, Nicholas Kusnetz, Judy Fahys, Ilana Cohen and David Hasemyer, InsideClimate News
This story originally appeared in InsideClimate News and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration streng…

Great Lakes Moment is a monthly column written by Great Lakes Now Contributor John Hartig. Publishing the author’s views and assertions does not represent endorsement by Great Lakes Now or Detroit Public Television.
Guy O. Williams knew very little abo…

By Ed White, Associated Press Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Flint residents whose health and homes were harmed by lead-contaminated water scored a legal milestone Wednesday when the Michigan Supreme Court said they could proceed with a lawsuit against public o…

July 24, 2020 This week: Minorities Trust In The Justice System Continues To Dwindle + DNR Captures 18 Invasive Carp From Southwest Minnesota Watershed + Waasekom Niin Embarks On A 28-day Canoe Quest + Fireflies Boom In Ideal Conditions + EPA Removes Name From Report On Glyphosate After Public Question Minorities’ Trust In The Justice […]

Since taking office in May 2019, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has emphasized that her environmental priorities are focused on the social justice issues of access to drinking water and clean air.
“The mayor is deeply committed to putting environmental j…

Reflecting on Juneteenth and the Environmental Movement Crystal M.C. Davis, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Director for Policy and Strategic Engagement July 19, 2020 The sounds of vibrant fireworks, smoky barbecues and patriotic parades make people across the nation excited about celebrating the 4th of July and our nation’s freedom from Great Britain’s rule. However […]

June 12, 2020 This week: Speaking Common Threads in Our Communities Through Poetry +No Water Service Restoration Chicago+ Anishinaabe Lead on Adapting to Climate Change + Michigan Senators Introduce a Bill to Protect Waterways and Public Health Speaking of Common Threads in Our Communities Through Poetry Freshwater Future staff member Brandon Tyus expressed his reactions […]

June 5, 2020 This week: Water Equity and Justice Freshwater Future Statement Freshwater Future mourns the death of Mr. George Floyd and all who have died due to racism in our country. We stand in solidarity with all communities of color as the forces of systemic racism have made them most vulnerable to police brutality and disproportionate impacts and […]

Freshwater Future mourns the death of Mr. George Floyd and all who have died due to racism in our country. We stand in solidarity with all communities of color as the forces of systemic racism have made them most vulnerable to police brutality and disproportionate impacts and harmed families suffering in silence, who would like […]

May 29, 2020 TThis week: Floodwaters Mix with Chemicals After Dam Failures + Some Residents of Chicago May Find Relief from Lack of Running Water + Funding for Lakewalk in Duluth Approved + Wind Turbines in Lake Erie Moves Forward with Limitations + Our Own Alicia Smith Receives “Urban Waters Learning Network Award” Floodwaters Mix […]

When you ask well-intentioned government officials about environmental justice issues and why they are so difficult to remedy, the response usually goes like this:
“Some of the challenges we see as environmental problems are really rooted in decades of…

The following guest post is by Great Lakes Environmental Law Center student fellow Shannon Nelson. Shannon is a University of Michigan Law School student and graduate of Wesleyan University. Prior to law school, she was the operations manager for Floating Doctors in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Shannon has led our project in Ecuador, working with local advocates and attorneys to protect the Dulcepamba River and support the people most affected by its destruction. In 2008,…

On February 26, 2019, voters in Toledo, Ohio overwhelmingly passed the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, fully stated- ESTABLISHING A BILL OF RIGHTS FOR LAKE ERIE, WHICH PROHIBITS ACTIVITIES AND PROJECTS THAT WOULD VIOLATE THE BILL OF RIGHTS We the people of the City of Toledo declare that Lake Erie and the Lake Erie watershed comprise an ecosystem upon which millions of people and countless species depend for health, drinking water and survival. We further…

In a win for Flint residents and environmental justice, the federal Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled that the actions of government – notably MDEQ officials and state-appointed emergency managers – “shocked the conscience” and may violate citizens’ right to bodily integrity as guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. The court’s decision – Guertin v. Michigan, 912 F. 3d 907 (6th Cir. 2019) – reasons that water…

Equal Justice Works has awarded recent Wayne Law graduate (and former GLELC student fellow) Erin Mette a two-year fellowship to work with the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center on urban children’s health. Erin’s project will focus on protecting children in Detroit and Flint from home-based environmental health hazards. As a staff attorney with GLELC, Erin will provide legal counseling and representation to affected families and work for policies that address the root causes of this…

Professor John Knox, a leading expert on international environmental and human rights law, is scheduled to present his final reports as Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment to the United Nations Human Rights Council this week. In July 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Professor Knox to a three-year mandate as its first Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy…

Wayne Law is hosting a national conference on environmental justice Friday January 26, 2018. Environmental Justice in Practice features a superb line-up of advocates, attorneys, community leaders, organizers, and policy-makers. Panels will cover energy and climate justice, water access and affordability, urban air quality, and careers in environmental justice. The conference is co-sponsored by Wayne Law’s Transnational Environmental Law Clinic and Environmental Law Society, CURES at Wayne State, the University of Chicago Law School’s Abrams…

Guest post by Great Lakes Environmental Law Center staff attorney Nick Leonard. On a summer day in July of 2013, a dangerous dark cloud of dust blew along the Detroit River between Windsor, Canada and Detroit. Video captured by an individual showed several people standing along the riverfront transfixed by the dust cloud as it completely obscured their view of the Ambassador Bridge, a normally omnipresent visual landmark for Detroit and Windsor residents alike. The…

A federal appeals court has allowed two lawsuits by Flint residents against state officials for Constitutional violations arising from the Flint water crisis to go forward, giving victims a big legal win with even bigger implications. In Boler v. Earley and Mays v. Snyder, 865 F.3d 391 (6th Cir. 2017), cert. denied, 583 U.S. __ (2018), the court held that alleged violations of substantive due process and equal protection could be brought in federal court…