Arc Ecology has been an active member of the environmental
justice movement from the very beginning. First articulated
in a research report by the United Church of Christ
in the early 1990’s, environmental justice became
a rallying call for many poor communities and communities
of color who were disproportionately impacted by polluting
industries and governmental activities. For it’s
part, Arc Ecology began providing technical support
to poor communities and communities of color living
near polluting military facilities in the early 1980’s.
As a result, Arc Ecology has long been identified
with this important environmental health and civil
The Community Window on the Hunters Point Shipyard
Cleanup began under an Environmental
Justice Grant from the San
Francisco Department of the Environment.
Environmental justice is woven into all of the projects
and activities conducted under the Community Window
on the Shipyard whose purpose is:
1.) To provide the Bayview Hunters Point community
with the resources it needs to become meaningfully
involved in the cleanup of the Hunters Point Shipyard.
2.) To ensure that the community has the support it
needs to express its concerns and interests in the
cleanup of the Hunters Point Shipyard.
Below you'll find some general information on environmental
justice, answers to frequently asked questions, and
links to other sites for more information.
What is Environmental Justice?
US Environmental Protection Agency 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.
Fair treatment means that no group
of people, including a racial, ethnic, or a socioeconomic
group, should bear a disproportionate share of the
negative environmental consequences resulting from
industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or
the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal
programs and policies. Meaningful involvement
means that: (1) potentially affected community residents
have an appropriate opportunity to participate in
decisions about a proposed activity that will affect
their environment and/or health; (2) the public's
contribution can influence the regulatory agency's
decision; (3) the concerns of all participants involved
will be considered in the decision making process;
and (4) the decision makers seek out and facilitate
the involvement of those potentially affected.
Environmental Justice and the
Bayview Hunters Point Community
Hunters Point became an environmental justice community
in 1938 as a direct result of San Francisco zoning
policies and Federal and Navy practices.
During the war, the military imported African-American
laborers from the South to work on the Shipyard. Aside
from the environmental health impacts associated with
working on the Navy shipyard, the close proximity
of neighborhood housing to the Shipyard increased
the health impacts to the neighboring community. Despite
the introduction of federal environmental regulations
in the 1970s, the military remained exempt from these
regulations for nearly twenty years, allowing for
a significant amount of additional pollution of the
Shipyard compared to civilian facilities.
Between 1976 and 1986, the Navy leased the property
to Triple A, a private ship repair company, and Astoria
Metals. Contamination of the facility continued under
the lessees, in part due to the poor oversight and
management by the Navy as property manager.
The impacts of the military’s actions were further
exacerbated by San Francisco zoning policies, which
concentrated polluting industries in the southeast
sector of the city away from the wealthier majority
Together, these policies and actions created the current
environmental & social justice conditions that
prevail in the Bayview Hunters Point community today.
Federal Authority for Environmental
February 11, 1994, President Clinton signed Exectuive
Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental
Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations.
The purpose of the order was to bring Federal agency
attention to the issue of environmental justice. The
Order states that each Federal agency should identify
and address, as appropriate, disproportionately high
and adverse human health or environmental effects
of its programs, policies, and activities on minority
populations and low-income populations. Emphasis is
placed on providing minority communities and low-income
communities access to public information on, and an
opportunity for public participation in, matters relating
to human health or the environment.
following paragraphs, which outline Federal Agency
responsibilities under Executive Order 12898, are
taken directly from the Order.
Implementation.1-101. Agency Responsibilities.
To the greatest extent practicable and permitted by
law, and consistent with the principles set forth
in the report on the National Performance Review,
each Federal agency shall make achieving environmental
justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing,
as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse
human health or environmental effects of its programs,
policies, and activities on minority populations and
low-income populations in the United States and its
territories and possessions, the District of Columbia,
the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the Commonwealth
of the Mariana Islands.
Development of Agency Strategies. (a) Except
as provided in section 6–605 of this order,
each Federal agency shall develop an agency-wide environmental
justice strategy [...] that identifies and addresses
disproportionately high and adverse human health or
environmental effects of its programs, policies, and
activities on minority populations and low-income
populations. The environmental justice strategy shall
list programs, policies, planning and public participation
processes, enforcement, and/or rulemakings related
to human health or the environment that should be
revised to, at a minimum: (1) promote enforcement
of all health and environmental statutes in areas
with minority populations and low-income populations;
(2) ensure greater public participation; (3) improve
research and data collection relating to the health
of and environment of minority populations and low-income
populations; and (4) identify differential patterns
of consumption of natural resources among minority
populations and low-income populations. In addition,
the environmental justice strategy shall include,
where appropriate, a timetable for undertaking identified
revisions and consideration of economic and social
implications of the revisions.
Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental
Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental
Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations
Francisco Department of the Environment
a project of Environmental Defense, profiles environmental
burdens in every community in the U.S., identifying
which groups experience disproportionate toxic chemical
releases, cancer risks from hazardous air pollutants,
or proximity to Superfund sites and polluting facilities
emitting smog and particulates.