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Environmental justice is both a normative principle describing the equitable distribution of environmental benefits and burdens and a political and legal movement that seeks to realize that goal. A closely related term, environmental equity, represents the state, achievement, or outcome of environmental justice, and environmental racism is the practice of contravening environmental justice along racial or ethnic lines.

Beginning in the United States in the early 1980s, advocates advanced environmental justice claims within the logic of racial equality of the civil rights movement and did so by following a legal strategy seeking change through litigation in the courts. Movement organizers also saw environmental justice as a means to move mainstream environmental organizations from their traditional focus on conserving and protecting nature to an anthropocentric concern with ...

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