Environmental Justice in the USA

Harnessing law and organizing to advance environmental and economic justice in the United States


In the mid-Atlantic region — including Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC — communities face interlocking crises like toxic pollution; inequitable access to safe, affordable public transportation and housing; and lack of access to job opportunities and basic amenities near home. Throughout our region, pollution and its impacts on health and livelihoods are concentrated in Black, Brown, and other communities of color as well as low-wealth neighborhoods. These harms often compound related injustices like redlining and overall underinvestment.

Namati partners with communities and organizers from across the region to address these interlocking challenges in three ways:

Local campaigns for healthier communities. Environmental and land use laws are meant to promote beneficial economic activity while protecting residents’ health, safety, and well-being. Active, informed community participation is critical to achieving this purpose. Namati supports local organizing to take on, and win, against threats to health, livelihoods, and the environment. This includes equipping organizers and communities to use law and science.

Economic Mobilization to Benefit and Resource Communities (EMBARC). Funding to build beneficial infrastructure is meant to help communities thrive and bring to life residents’ vision for their neighborhoods. In reality, funds are often inequitably distributed and leave communities in need even further behind. Namati assists under-resourced local governments and communities with envisioning change, identifying and pursuing funding sources, tracking funding implementation, and analyzing the entire funding process.

The MidAtlantic Justice Coalition. Communities who bear the brunt of intersecting crises have not had much of a say in discussions about legislative and policy solutions, leading to responses that are inadequate and, sometimes, exploitative. Namati convenes a regional, community-focused coalition of grassroots organizers and impacted residents, legal and policy professionals, health experts, and other allies to advance environmental and economic justice legislation and policy goals.

People Rising: Ivy City, Washington DC


People Rising: Ivy City, Washington DC chronicles the active fight to close National Engineering Products (NEP), a chemical facility that has polluted the air with the smell of formaldehyde and burning tar since the 1930s. It inconspicuously operates in a poor, Black residential neighborhood and even shares a wall with a family home – including 6 children – all of whom have had negative health impacts since moving in. The existence of the facility in this neighborhood is not a coincidence; it is a product of environmental racism.

This short documentary follows Sebrena Rhodes, Ivy City resident, and community organizer, as she and her partners combine the power of law with the power of organizing in the fight to close NEP. This story shows how the communities impacted by environmental harm are working to build more sustainable ways of life for themselves, for future generations, and, ultimately, for all of us.

This film was produced by Namati in partnership with EmpowerDC and is an Official Selection of the 2023 DC Environmental Film Festival.


Watch the Film