This past year GW Law celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of its Environmental and Energy Program which seeks to provide the next generation of environmental and energy lawyers with tools to deal with challenges facing the environment and its inhabitants.  2020 was also a year of tragedy, not only the ongoing covid health pandemic, but also the environmental tragedies of wildfires, hurricanes and floods and, in particular, their impact on low-income populations and communities of color.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Environmental Justice website defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

The language used to describe environmental justice can vary. It can sometimes be referred to as environmental equality/inequality.  As this area of law continues to evolve, new terms such as “climate justice” and “energy justice” speak to the impact of climate change on and availability of energy resources to low-income populations.

The intersection of justice, human rights and environmental and energy law is an important part of the GW Law Library’s collection. Searching the Library’s catalog, JACOB will retrieve print and online materials on EPA’s progress on environmental justice, human dignity and the adjudication of environmental rights, environmental justice in the permitting process, indigenous environmental justice and the right to water.  Conduct a basic search using a specific phrase such as “environmental justice.”  “Advanced Search” filters enable you to refine a search by author, subject, date, etc.

Track current issues by searching the Environmental Justice journal, Environment & Energy (E & E) Online Publications ((EnergyWire, ClimateWire, E&E Daily, Greenwire), Environmental Law Institute (ELI)’s ELR: News & Analysis journal, and the George Washington Journal of Environmental & Energy Law (JEEL).  Additional research sources can be found by consulting the Library’s environmental and energy topical research guides.

Post authored by Germaine Leahy, Head of Reference/Environmental & Energy Librarian