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Abstract

This Article seeks to illuminate the lack of adequate legal remedies that are available for low-income, predominantly minority communities that have suffered historic environmental injustices. The Article not only discusses the lack of adequate legal remedies, but also proposes the use of local, state, and federal reparations programs for communities that have previously suffered environmental injustices; are still living with the effects of environmental injustices, by way of disease, air, soil, and water pollution; or are suffering current and ongoing environmental injustices. As has been recently illustrated by Michigan’s state action of providing lead-contaminated water for over a year to residents of Flint, Michigan, environmental injustices at the hands of local, state, and federal governments are, unfortunately, all too common. Certainly, governments are not the only entities perpetrating environmental injustices; however, because governments are charged with enforcing environmental and civil rights laws, their own perpetration of environmental injustice is sometimes even more egregious than environmental misconduct by private entities. This Article stems from the work of the University of Miami School of Law Center for Ethics & Public Service Environmental Justice Clinic. The Environmental Justice Clinic began as a community-based project working with historic black churches in the West Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami. The Environmental Justice Clinic, in partnership with these historic black churches, community stakeholders, and local nonprofits, has been researching the environmental injustice of “Old Smokey”—the aptly nicknamed City of Miami Municipal Trash Incinerator.