|About the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment|
Our mission is to achieve environmental justice and healthy, sustainable communities through collective action and the law.
HOW WE GOT OUR START
Yet mainstream environmental groups were not paying attention to this issue. When Luke sought out an organization that could support his work, legal aid organizations sent him to environmental organizations. Environmental organizations sent him to legal aid organizations. No one was advocating for the legal rights of low-income communities and communities of color facing environmental hazards.
All that changed when Luke found an ally in Ralph Abascal of California Rural Legal Assistance. Ralph was a noted legal advocate for farmworkers and class reform and had taken part in a legal battle that led to banning the pesticide DDT in the 1970's. Together, Luke and Ralph founded the Center of Race, Poverty & the Environment in 1989 (with CRPE becoming a project of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation in 1996 and an independent organization in 2004). The environmental justice movement had gained one of its early champions.
Today, we are still fueled by our founding belief that all people have the right to live, work, play and pray in a healthy environment, regardless of their race, place or income.
WHERE and WHY
Additionally, we work at the state and national level to promote policies that will directly benefit the communities with which we work.
Beyond the Valley, we represent the Native Village of Kivalina in Alaska in their fight against the first hand effects of climate change and have taken on other national cases. In 2001 Luke Cole was a co-counsel on South Camden Citizens in Action v. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which set a precedent for using the Civil Rights Act to protect environmental rights. In 2012 we hired the first Luke Cole Memorial Fellow so we could extend our unique expertise to communities tackling environmental justice issues nation-wide.
• Civil Rights: Using the Civil Rights Act to protect of people of color from environmental hazards.
• Clean Air: Cleaning up the dirtiest air in the country through promotion of stronger air regulations, higher pesticide standards and keeping mega dairies and factory farms out of already burdened communities.
• Climate Justice: Addressing the disproportionate impact of climate change on low-income communities and communities of color.
• Green and Just Economic Development: Breaking the cycle of poverty through community based and owned economic programs.
• Waste: Fighting violation prone toxic waste dumps and advocating for a just, state-wide policy to responsibly handle our waste while protecting civil rights and encouraging healthy communities.
Learn more about our work on our main campaign page.