Polluting facilities are frequently located in people of color or low-income communities. They may have an adverse and disproportionate impact on the health of neighbors, as well as plant workers.

WEC’s Environmental Justice (EJ) Program seeks to prevent and eliminate unfair pollution burdens on people of color and low-income communities. We advocate for meaningful participation by communities and workers in environmental decision-making, and for fair treatment and equal protection under governmental laws, policies, and practices for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status.


  • WEC’s advocacy for environmental justice (EJ) helped catalyze mainstream environmental groups and state agencies to address EJ problems.
  • In February 2004, WEC with other environmental and community allies won an Environmental Justice Executive Order. As a result, multiple state agencies now work together on problems caused by environmental injustices and are more proactive on this issue in response to community concerns.
  • WEC collaborated with the NJ Environmental Justice Alliance and other allies to prevent diesel pollution. As a result, DEP issued rules to implement 2005’s Diesel Risk Reduction Act. These rules require all school buses (publicly or privately owned), garbage trucks, transit buses, and certain construction vehicles to be fitted with closed crankcase controls. And local police now have authority to enforce DEP’s three-minute idling limit. DEP also launched a public education campaign about diesel health risks to children.
  • WEC’s collaborative work on diesel pollution also featured drafting a proposed Governor’s Executive Order to reduce diesel emissions from vehicles owned by private companies that have state contracts and beginning a youth/faith institutions effort to monitor diesel truck emissions.
  • WEC helped launch the Coalition for Healthy Ports (CHPs), which includes labor, religious, community, academic, and environmental justice partners whose goal is, in part, to reduce truck pollution at the Port of NY/NJ to benefit both immigrant drivers and the community.
  • WEC initiated an internship program to train youth about environmental justice issues, grassroots organizing, and coalition-building to develop the next generation of social justice leaders.