Public Health & Environmental Justice

Across the country, low-income and minority communities suffer disproportionately from pollution and lack positive environmental resources. Factories and waste processing plants cluster in such marginalized communities, which often lack the clout and the resources to oppose noxious polluters effectively. These communities also lack important community resources like reliable sources of healthy food, medical care, and green spaces.

As a result, community members in neighborhoods affected by environmental injustice suffer a variety of public health crises – higher incidences of asthma, obesity, cancer, other diseases, as well as higher infant mortality and lower average life spans.

Many of Philadelphia’s low-income and minority communities suffer disproportionately from the environmental impacts of pollution. Environmental injustice traps these communities in a cycle of blight and poverty, preventing them from resisting the factories and waste processing plants that poison their lungs and bodies.

Our Work

The Law Center provides legal and advocacy assistance to low-income and minority communities in the Philadelphia area disproportionately harmed by negative environmental impacts. We seek to help these communities both by stopping pollution and by helping them to craft and implement a positive vision of their environmental and economic revitalization. To reach our goal of securing a healthy environment for all, we work closely with community groups and advocacy organizations to drive change through litigation, community organizing, and advocacy for positive environmental policy at the city, state and national level.

Since 1979, we have taken on some of the region’s worst polluters, shutting down or drastically decreasing pollution from numerous trash incinerators, sewage treatment plants, and waste processing facilities in communities in Philadelphia, Camden, Chester, and across the state. In the 1990s, the Law Center was a leader in the burgeoning environmental justice movement, bringing historic litigation charging state environmental regulatory agencies with discriminatory permitting practices.

Today, the Law Center works to promote the interests of community gardeners and urban farmers in marginalized Philadelphia neighborhoods. By promoting urban agriculture and helping to reclaim vacant land, we aim to help vulnerable communities secure reliable sources of healthy food, revitalize their economies, and exercise greater control of their neighborhoods’ futures.