On this page you will find resources that may be helpful to your efforts to protect your environment or learn more about environmental issues in your community.
You can scroll through this page or click on one of the links below to go directly to the resource:
Legal Resources anchor
The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) Pro Bono Clearinghouse connects attorneys and communities to tackle environmental problems. For more information or to be connected with an attorney or law clinic regarding your community’s concerns, submit a form at ELI Pro Bono Clearinghouse’s contact page for communities and organizations.
United States Code: Official law of the U.S. (for example, the Clean Air Act)
- Official website: https://www.govinfo.gov/app/collection/USCODE
- User friendly version: www.law.cornell.edu/uscode
Code of Federal Regulations: Regulations created by federal governmental agencies (for example, the EPA)
Agenda of Regulatory Actions: Yearly Plans for actions for federal agencies
Free U.S. Supreme Court Opinions:
- Official Reporter 1754-2003: https://www.loc.gov/collections/united-states-reports
- Opinions and Arguments of all Supreme Court cases: https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020
Free Federal Court Opinions:
- Note: Georgia is located in the Eleventh Circuit
Official Code of Georgia Annotated: Official law of the state of Georgia
Georgia Regulations: Regulations created by state governmental agencies (for example, Georgia Department of Natural Resources)
Proposed Georgia Regulations: Information about upcoming regulations is available on on each of the relevant agencies’ websites with instructions on how to comment
- Environmental Protection Division: https://epd.georgia.gov/public-announcements
- Coastal Resources Division: https://coastalgadnr.org/ at the bottom of the page is an updated listing of the “Public Meetings” and “Public Notices.”
Free Georgia Court Opinions:
Municipal and County Codes:
- Note: Municode does not include codes from all Georgia counties. For more information about using Municode, see Land Use Planning and Zoning.
County or City Websites:
- Information on local council meetings is often available on their official websites, and sometimes on county, town, or city social media pages as well.
Glossary of Environmental Justice (EJ) Terms
Activists and advocates often create new terminology to describe issues and concepts related to environmental justice. Below are some terms that have become more popular in the years preceding this publication. Some terms refer to tangible circumstances and some terms are aspirational concepts for envisioning a better world.
Climate justice is the remediation of the impacts of climate change on poor people and people of color, and compensation for harms suffered by such communities due to climate change. It has global and domestic implications.
Climate justice advocates recognize that climate change (now and in the future) disproportionately affects those in low- or middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, Oceania, Latin America, and the Caribbean who contributed very little to the problem of climate change in comparison to nations like the United States, European nations, and China. Around the world, those with the least ability to respond to the impacts of climate change—the poor and people of color, including island nations and indigenous peoples—will continue to bear the brunt of its effects.
In the United States, climate justice advocates recognize that the poor and people of color in this country will suffer the deepest impacts of climate change, given our legacies of legalized segregation, redlining, and disinvestment that have often left communities of color and the poor on land and in economic circumstances that make them the most vulnerable to climate change. Adding to the disproportionate burden, such communities typically lack the economic resources to easily recover from climate change related events.
Disaster Capitalism is the phenomenon of wealthy individuals and corporations exploiting crises to privatize public goods and services while less resourced people are focused on daily survival. Examples of Disaster Capitalism include the privatization of the energy system in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and the privatization of the public school system in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Energy Affordability is a metric that indicates whether energy costs are low enough to allow a household to pay for other basic needs (food, shelter, clothing and medical care). Two households in different parts of the country can have identical incomes and energy costs, but one of them could have less Energy Affordability if the cost of living is relatively higher in their area.
Energy Assistance is an umbrella term describing different types of programs aimed at reducing energy insecurity and burden and increasing energy affordability. These programs typically take the form of direct cash assistance (bill discounts, low-income rates, donation programs, crisis assistance), conservation (low income energy efficiency or weatherization programs to help customers use less energy) or programs that help customers set up payment plans for overdue energy bills (sometimes called “arrearage management”).
Energy Assistance Need is the total dollar amount of unaffordable customer energy bills in a given area. Understood differently, Energy Assistance Need is the portion of customer energy bills that exceed a set energy burden threshold on an annual basis for all the customers in an area. While Energy Affordability and Energy Burden look at individual households, Energy Assistance Need looks at all the customers of a utility or in a particular area together.
Energy Burden is how much of your household income you pay for energy. It typically ranges from close to zero to over 15%.
Energy Democracy refers to the idea that communities should have more of a voice and role in decision-making about their energy supply. Energy Democracy can be used synonymously with Energy Equity, but some groups use Energy Democracy to mean that communities should own and control their sources of energy production directly.
Energy Equity relates to how accessible and affordable the energy supply is across a population. Typically, low-income households pay a larger proportion of their incomes for energy than other customers. Energy Equity will exist when there the benefits and burdens from energy production and consumption are distributed fairly across the population.
Energy Insecurity describes the vulnerability of a household to not making energy bill payments on time, being charged late payment fees, and being disconnected from utility services. Another way to think about Energy Insecurity is the inability to meet basic household energy needs.
In general, Energy Insecurity correlates highly with Energy Burden (households who pay a higher percentage of their income for energy are more vulnerable), but assistance programs can reduce Energy Insecurity for households with a high Energy Burden, and households with a low Energy Burden can experience Energy Insecurity due to other economic crises, like the loss of a job.
Energy justice is a broad concept that is closely related to Energy Equity. Energy Justice includes, but not limited to: Energy Burden— the expense of energy expenditures relative to overall household income; Energy Insecurity—the hardships households face when meeting basic household needs; Energy Poverty—a lack of access to energy itself; and Energy Democracy—the notion that communities should have a say and agency in shaping their energy future.
Like Energy Equity, Energy Justice seeks the equitable sharing of benefits and burdens involved in the production and consumption of energy services, fairness in energy decision-making, and informed citizen participation.
Energy Poverty is defined by the U.N. Development Program as the “inability to cook with modern cooking fuels and the lack of a bare minimum of electric lighting to read or for other household and productive activities at sunset.” Tens of thousands of Americans on Native American reservations live without access to basic electricity services.12
Environmental Justice is both an activist movement and field of scholarship that confronts the fact that communities of color often face disproportionate environmental burdens, and environmental laws do not satisfactorily protect such communities from environmental harm.
Environmental Racism refers to the way in which minority group neighborhoods (populated primarily by people of color and members of low socioeconomic groups) are burdened with a disproportionate number of hazards, including toxic waste facilities, garbage dumps, and other sources of environmental pollution and foul odors that lower the quality of life. All around the globe, members of minority groups bear a greater burden of the health problems that result from higher exposure to waste and pollution. This can occur due to unsafe or unhealthy work conditions where no regulations exist (or are enforced) for poor workers, or in neighborhoods that are uncomfortably close to toxic materials.
Food Justice refers to healthy food as a human right and seeks to remove structural barriers to that right. Food justice efforts (generally led by indigenous peoples and people of color) work toward universal access to healthy food and toward an end to the structural inequities in access to healthy food that lead to unequal health outcomes.
Some things to be considered from a Food Justice perspective include access to healthy, nutritious, culturally appropriate food; ownership and control of land for food production, credit, knowledge, technology and other resources; the constituent labor of food production; what kind of food traditions are valued; and how colonialism has affected the food system’s development.
Food Sovereignty refers to people’s right to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define and control their own food and agriculture systems.
A Food System is the entire path that food travels from crop or livestock production all the way to digestion in the stomach. This includes the growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consuming, and disposing of food.
Just Transition describes a hypothetical transition away from the ‘extractive’ fossil-fuel economy to a new, ‘regenerative’ economy (sometimes described as a ‘circular economy’) that provides dignified, productive, and ecologically sustainable jobs; democratic governance; and ecological resilience.
Water Equity, like Energy Equity, refers to the unequal distribution of the benefits and harms of water and wastewater systems, including floods and droughts. Water Equity advocates seek fairness in access to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water and wastewater services and the benefits of those services, and resilience to water risks from climate change.
1Initiative for Energy Justice, The Energy Justice Workbook, https://iejusa.org/section-1-defining-energy-justice/ (last visited Sept. 9, 2020); Daisy Simmons, What is ‘climate justice’?, Yale Climate Connections (2020), https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/07/what-is-climate-justice/.
2Editors, A Primer on Disaster Capitalism, Our New Normal, In These Times (Apr. 16, 2020), https://inthesetimes.com/article/disaster-capitalism-coronavirus-naomi-klein-shock-doctrine-medicare-for-all.
3Hassan Shaban, Learn the Lingo: Six key energy equity concepts, https://empowerdataworks.com/energy/energy-equity-concepts/.
4Hassan Shaban, Learn the Lingo: Six key energy equity concepts, https://empowerdataworks.com/energy/energy-equity-concepts/.
5Hassan Shaban, Learn the Lingo: Six key energy equity concepts, https://empowerdataworks.com/energy/energy-equity-concepts/.
6Hassan Shaban, Learn the Lingo: Six key energy equity concepts, https://empowerdataworks.com/energy/energy-equity-concepts/.
7Initiative for Energy Justice, The Energy Justice Workbook, https://iejusa.org/section-1-defining-energy-justice/.
8Partnership for Southern Equity, Just Energy, https://psequity.org/just-energy/; Anmar Frangoul, The WEC’s energy trilemma: What is it?, CNBC (Oct. 13, 2016), https://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/07/the-wecs-energy-trilemma-what-is-it.html.
9Hassan Shaban, Learn the Lingo: Six key energy equity concepts, https://empowerdataworks.com/energy/energy-equity-concepts/.
10Initiative for Energy Justice, The Energy Justice Workbook, https://iejusa.org/section-1-defining-energy-justice/.
11Hassan Shaban, Learn the Lingo: Six key energy equity concepts, https://empowerdataworks.com/energy/energy-equity-concepts/.
12Aaron Larson, Did You Know There Are 60,000 U.S. Citizens Who Lack Access to Electricity, Power Magazine (Oct. 1, 2020), https://www.powermag.com/did-you-know-there-are-60000-u-s-citizens-who-lack-access-to-electricity/.
13Initiative for Energy Justice, The Energy Justice Workbook, https://iejusa.org/section-1-defining-energy-justice/.
14Vann R. Newkirk II, Trump’s EPA Concludes Environmental Racism Is Real, The Atlantic (Feb. 28, 2018), https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/the-trump-administration-finds-that-environmental-racism-is-real/554315/.
15FoodPrint, Food Justice, https://foodprint.org/issues/food-justice/.
16FoodPrint, Food Justice, https://foodprint.org/issues/food-justice/.
17International Food Policy Research Institute, Food Systems, https://www.ifpri.org/topic/food-systems.
18Initiative for Energy Justice, The Energy Justice Workbook, https://iejusa.org/section-1-defining-energy-justice/.
19US Water Alliance, The Pillars of Water Equity, http://uswateralliance.org/wec/framework.
Community Science Resources anchor
Community Science Resources
Community science refers to public participation in the scientific process, especially to achieve community (rather than institutional) goals. For communities facing environmental issues, collecting scientific data can be a powerful tool to investigate problems and document environmental and health impacts on communities.
These resources provide more information about community science.
|Official government website designed to facilitate crowdsourcing and citizen science across the U.S. The site provides an overview of citizen science, step-by-step guides to participating in projects, and a library of resources and examples. It also provides a searchable catalog of existing projects.
|The Environmental Protection Network
|An organization made up of over 550 former EPA staff, the Environmental Protection Network provides free technical assistance to environmental justice communities and organizations to help them navigate EPA processes, other federal processes, and get publicly available data. Volunteers from the Environmental Protection Network can help you interpret EPA publications, permit terms, environmental impact statements, regulations, and policies. To request assistance, please contact Kathy Pope, Development Director and Community Outreach Associate, at email@example.com.
|Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Neighborhood Water Watch
|Invites citizens in to bring water samples from over 200 designated sampling locations to Chattahoochee Riverkeeper for analysis.
|The Center for Applied Environmental Science
|The Center for Applied Environmental Science seeks to advance environmental justice by ensuring that communities and environmental advocates have access to high-quality science and engineering expertise. CAES provides grants to community organizations and NGOs from about $3,000 to $30,000 to hire scientists and engineers to assist with permitting and siting decisions, legal challenges, and rulemaking efforts. They have built a roster of over twenty-five experts with a wide range of skills, including air dispersion modeling, watershed modeling, engineering, hydrology, geology, remediation, exposure assessment, acoustics, and urban planning. For more information, please contact Abel Russ, Director, firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Thriving Earth Exchange
|Connects communities with scientists who can help them conduct testing and research. Thriving Earth Exchange volunteers help communities define scientific questions, design protocols, collect and analyze data, and apply this scientific knowledge to help with decision-making. Here are examples of current and past projects. For more information, please contact Natasha Udu-gama, Manager, Community and International Relations: NUduemail@example.com.
|Provides a project finder tool for citizens to search for ongoing projects that might match your project focus. If you’re interested in citizen science generally, this site also provides citizen science news and other interesting resources.
|Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS)
|This organization is dedicated to weather monitoring and mapping, but it also has training videos and slide shows available that may be helpful.
|Anecdata allows you to locate existing projects as well as design your own. Once you start a project, you can invite your community to join through the Anecdata app. Using the app, you can collect pictures, record observations, and input other data that will be saved as part of your community project. The website also includes helpful information about best practices for citizen science projects and a community forum.
|Similar to Anecdata, Zooniverse allows users to search for existing projects as well as design new ones, which you can share with neighbors. You can also find resources for how to most effectively design your own project. Zooniverse also has a smartphone app.
|Esri StoryMaps provide a user-friendly interface that allows users to create interactive maps with photos and text. This is not a data collection tool. Rather, it’s an advocacy tool that can be used to communicate your scientific findings to a wide audience. With StoryMaps, you can create a strong visual narrative that’s easy to publish and share.
Note: Some features are behind pay wall.
For an example of using StoryMaps as an advocacy tool to highlight environmental injustice, see the story “Clearing the Air in the Historic West End”: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/5071792639ef47729fad54da835d37d3
|Georgia EPD Adopt-a-Stream
|Provides resources to trainers, volunteers, community scientists, and state organizations to help them perform water quality monitoring throughout the state.
|Marine Debris Tracker
|This mobile app is a partnership between NOAA and the Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative at the University of Georgia.
|HERCULES supports a variety of environmental health research and aims to engage with community stakeholders to inform research and share findings. They provide community resources, including short summaries of research conducted by HERCULES scientists and Atlanta environmental health resources.
|EJSCREEN is an environmental justice mapping tool created by the EPA that provides the EPA and the public with environmental and demographic information for a given area.
|The University of Georgia’s CyanoTracker program uses observations from community scientists to gather information about harmful algae blooms in Georgia waters.
|ATL Soil Safety
|A partnership between the Saikawa lab at Emory University and Historic Westside Gardens, this project aims to measure the concentration of heavy metals in urban gardens.
|My Right to Know App (myRTK)
|Part of EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program, the myRTK app allows users to search and identify nearby facilities that report to the TRI Program as well as facilities with EPA air, water, or hazardous waste program permits. Users can also see the effects associated with pollutants and the compliance history of discharging facilities.
|EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) database allows users to access the enforcement history of facilities, investigate pollution sources, and search for EPA enforcement cases.
|EPA’s Air Sensor Toolbox
|Provides information on air quality monitoring technologies as well as training videos and other resources.
|Local Environmental Observer (LEO) Network
|LEO is a network of observers and experts that allows users to share observations, raise awareness, engage with experts, and find answers about significant environmental events.
|This EPA online tool allows you to search for multiple forms of environmental information using location, topic searches, program searches, and multisystem searches.
|This EPA online tool allows you to search for environmental information based on your location. It provides summaries on state environmental reports, health risks, air and water quality, land contamination, and other topics.
|This EPA tool provides similar information, but also provides visualization on an interactive map.
|Environmental Law Institute Case Studies
|The Environmental Law Institute published a report analyzing case studies of citizen science programs at environmental agencies focused on air pollution, water pollution, and enforcement of environmental laws using community-collected data.
Sample forms anchor
Depending on your goals and needs, you may need to submit requests for information, public comments, or complaints. These sample forms provide language you can use and instructions for how to fill in the information relevant to your issue.
A sample of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request form with instructions for how to complete to request records from a federal agency. For more information about making a FOIA request, see Accessing Public Records and Meetings.
A sample of a Georgia Open Records Act request form with instructions for how to complete to request records from a state, county, or local government or agency. For more information about making an Open Records Act request in Georgia, see Accessing Public Records and Meetings.
A sample complaint form with instructions for how to complete to file complaints about environmental problems in your community. For more information about filing complaints, see Protecting Your Community: Getting Started.
A sample pollution log form to document incidents of pollution and identify trends. For more information about effective pollution logs and the collection of scientific data see Protecting Your Community: Getting Started and Collecting and Using Scientific Data.
A sample of a public comment letter with instructions for how to complete. For more information about the public commenting process and drafting effective comments, see Submitting Public Comments.