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Putting the Law to Work in Our Communities

A Citizen’s Guide to Environmental Protection and Justice in Georgia, USA.

The development of extensive environmental regulation over the last three decades has afforded many Americans a sense of security, a  security born of the belief that environmental laws will effectively protect them from toxic chemicals and pollutants.

Yet, the history of the U.S. and Georgia highlights the truth that such protection from toxic pollution does not accrue equally to all Americans. People of color and low-income Americans often suffer disproportionately from the effects of toxic pollution.

In the last thirty years, more and more evidence has emerged relating to the placement of landfills, truck depots, incinerators, power plants, and other polluting industries in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods.

In light of the inequitable siting of these facilities, these communities end up suffering disproportionately from the human health risks associated with the toxic pollution emitted from these facilities.GreenLaw (formerly known as the Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest) and the Turner Environmental Law Clinic (Turner Clinic) at Emory University School of Law have joined together to provide communities with legal and technical resources to remedy these inequities.

This handbook contains an introduction to environmental justice, background on laws that were enacted to protect our communities, and tools to understand how citizen participation can work to clean up Georgia’s neighborhoods. We hope it will prove useful to those working to create healthy communities for all of Georgia’s citizens.

Understanding the laws that impact your community will give you the tools to better protect your community. However, the area of environmental law is complex. Before relying on any of the advice in this handbook, you should consult an expert. This handbook is no substitute for the knowledge and experience of professionals, such as lawyers and engineers, with training in environmental issues.

 

 

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