National Association of County and City Health Officials, November 12, 2000


Adopted on November 12, 2000 by the National Association of County and City Health Officials

WHEREAS, throughout the nation there is an overrepresentation of toxic waste sites and contaminated properties in communities of color and low-income communities[1], and race is the most significant variable that has been associated with the siting of hazardous waste facilities, even after controlling for urbanization, regional differences and socio-economic status[2]; and

WHEREAS, penalties imposed under hazardous waste laws at sites having the greatest white population were about 500 percent higher than penalties imposed at sites with the greatest people of color population[3]; and

WHEREAS, serious health concerns and exposures have resulted from the siting of toxic waste and other contaminated facilities in communities of color and low-income communities, adding to other threats posed by poor quality housing, absence of mass transit, unhealthy working conditions, poverty, and high levels of pollution production[4]; and

WHEREAS, urban sprawl and discriminatory land use decisions create economic and racial polarization, segregated neighborhoods and deteriorating neighborhoods in people of color and low-income communities,[5] thereby increasing health and safety risks, health disparities, air and water pollution, poor quality housing, unstable neighborhoods, unsustainable ecosystems, and poor quality of life;[6]

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) supports the fundamental right to political, economic, cultural and environmental self-determination of all peoples, and the right to be free from ecological destruction; and affirms the need for urban and rural ecological policies to clean up and rebuild our cities and rural areas in balance with nature while assuring healthy communities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO facilitates local public health agency efforts to ensure that no communities suffer from disproportional exposures to environmental health hazards; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NACCHO actively supports programs, policies, and activities that build the capacity to identify disproportionate sitings of facilities, discriminatory land use and zoning laws, and to assure nondiscriminatory compliance with all environmental, health and safety laws in order to assure equal protection of the public health; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO supports public and corporate policy based on mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any form of discrimination or bias; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO supports universal protection from unnecessary radiation exposure resulting from nuclear testing, extraction, production and disposal of toxic/hazardous wastes and poisons that threatens the fundamental right to clean air, land, water, and food; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO supports the principle that producers of hazardous waste and materials be held strictly accountable to the people and responsible for containment and detoxification; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO supports the right of all people potentially affected to participate as equal partners at every level of decision-making about hazardous waste and materials, including needs assessment, planning, implementation, enforcement and evaluation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO recognizes a special legal and ethical relationship of the federal, state, and local governments and Native Peoples through treaties, agreements, compacts, and covenants affirming sovereignty and self-determination; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO affirms the right of all workers to a safe and healthy work environment; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO calls for the education of present and future generations which emphasizes social and environmental issues, based on our experience, our concern for health, and an appreciation of our diverse cultural perspectives; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO supports the right to ethical, balanced and responsible uses of land and renewable resources in the interest of a sustainable planet for humans and other living things.

Note: This resolution replaces Resolution 93-2 Environmental Equity (1993)

Adopted by NACCHO Board of Directors


1. Benjamin Goldman, Not Just Prosperity: Achieving Sustainability with Environmental Justice. Washington, DC: National Wildlife Federation, 1994; Carita Shanklin, "Comment, Pathfinder: Environmental Justice," 24 Ecology Law Quarterly 333 (1997); Commission for Racial Justice, United Church of Christ, "Toxic Waste and Race in the United States, a National Report on the Racial and Socio-Economic Characteristics of Communities with Hazardous Waste Sites," Public Data Access, Inc., 1987.

2. Paul Mohai and Bunyan Bryant. "Environmental Justice: Weighing Race and Class As Factors in the Distribution of Environmental Hazards," 63 University of Colorado Law Review 921 (1992).

3. The National Law Journal, "Unequal Protection, the Racial Divide in Environmental Law, " Sept. 21, 1992.

4. Robert Bullard, Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1994;. Charles Lee, Environmental Justice, Urban Revitalization, and Brownfields: The Search for Authentic Signs of Hope. A Report on the "Public Dialogues on Urban Revitalization and Brownfields: Envisioning Healthy and Sustainable Communities. Washington, DC: National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Waste and Facility Siting Subcommittee. December, 1996. EPA 500 R-96-002. Also appears as "Environmental Justice: Creating A Vision for Achieving Healthy and Sustainable Communities," in Benjamin Amick and Rima Rudd eds. Social Change and Health Improvement: Case Studies for Action, forthcoming, 1999; Craig Anthony Arnold, "Planning Milagros: Environmental Justice and Land Use Regulation," 76(1) Denver University Law Review 1998: 1.

5. Michael Gelobter, "The Meaning of Environmental Injustice," 21(3) Fordham Urban Law Journal (Spring, 1994): 841-56; Robert Bullard, Glenn S. Johnson and Angel O. Torres. Sprawl City. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2000; Paul Stanton Kibel, "The Urban Nexus: Open Space, Brownfields, and Justice," 25 Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review (1998): 589.

6. Carl Anthony, Suburbs Are Making Us Sick: Health Implications of Suburban Sprawl and Inner City Abandonment on Communities of Color. Environmental Justice Health Research Needs report Series. Atlanta: Environmental Justice Resource Center, 1998; David Bollier, How Smart Growth Can Stop Sprawl. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 1998; Craig Anthony Arnold, "Planning Milagros: Environmental Justice and Land Use Regulation," 76(1) Denver University Law Review (1998): 1-152.