Report Illustrates The Center’s Community-Centered Efforts Throughout 2021 and 2022

​​​​​​​FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 22, 2023

Ginger LeBlanc |

Valerie Keys |
​​​​​​​New Orleans, LA — Today, the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) released its two-year impact report highlighting the organization’s community-centered work through 2021 and 2022. DSCEJ’s efforts to empower communities historically impacted by environmental racism, promote community-led solutions to the climate crisis and put environmental justice at the center of all climate action were bolstered by philanthropic funding and high-profile engagements with federal, state, and local lawmakers.

The DSCEJ’s 2021-2022 Impact Report can be found here.

In 2021, Dr. Beverly Wright, Executive Director and Founder of The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice was appointed to the Biden Administration’s White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and charged with providing recommendations on how to address current and historic environmental injustice to the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council (IAC) and the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). This appointment provided Dr. Wright and DSCEJ with a platform to ensure the priorities of environmental justice communities are being addressed in Washington.

The administration’s commitment to environmental justice kicked off with the announcement of Justice40, a whole-of-government approach to embedding environmental justice in the operations of the federal government by requiring that historically disadvantaged communities receive 40 percent of federal investments in clean energy solutions. The administration followed with various engagements with DSCEJ, including EPA Administrator Michael Regan’s Journey to Justice tour. Backed by community advocates, DSCEJ helped to organize a “toxic tour” throughout Cancer Alley, an 85-mile corridor along the Mississippi River lined with over 150 petrochemical plants and 7 oil refineries. Administrator Regan received an immersive tour that brought him face to face with the devastating effects of living with high polluting industries in your backyard.

Following Administrator Regan’s visit, the EPA has issued enforcement actions to help address air pollution, unsafe drinking water, and additional issues. As part of his commitment, in September 2022, the EPA announced the creation of the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights, to help better advance environmental justice by enforcing civil rights laws in overburdened communities and providing new grants and technical assistance.

Earlier this year the EPA announced a tighter national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for a fine particle pollution also known as PM2.5.Black communities are exposed to PM2.5 air 1.54 times higher than the rest of the population. In February 2023, the EPA and Department of Justice took a monumental step and filed a lawsuit to compel Denka, a major producer of neoprene synthetic rubber in the Cancer Alley corridor, to cut down its carcinogenic emissions to EPA-safe levels.

DSCEJ’s efforts and Dr. Wright’s recommendations as a member of WHEJAC also influenced the Inflation Reduction Act which included historic investments in environmental justice communities made possible by decades of community advocacy and took a big step toward realizing the environmental justice movement’s priorities.

In November 2022, DSCEJ partnered with WE ACT for Environmental Justice, the Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University, along with other international partners to debut the first-ever Climate Justice Pavilion in the Blue Zone at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Supported by 11 major sponsors, the Climate Justice Pavilion brought together representatives from the Global South, the U.S. Environmental Justice Movement, and Indigenous peoples to spotlight the voices of communities disproportionately impacted by climate change on a global stage.

“I am so proud of what DSCEJ has been able to achieve in the last two years and grateful for the new and legacy funding relationships that have sustained our work,” said Dr. Beverly Wright, Executive Director and Founder of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. “From Administrator Regan’s Journey to Justice tour to hosting the very first Climate Justice Pavilion at COP27, we have made historical steps toward realizing environmental justice, but we still have a ways to go. We are already planning our strategies for the future with our community partners by our side, and we look forward to future engagement with lawmakers in the deep South, Washington, and across the country. We will continue to empower our climate-vulnerable communities to take bold action to ensure that future generations can thrive in a healthy and just environment.”

About the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice
Families in the Gulf Coast deserve to live in communities that are free from deadly air and are more resilient to climate change and extreme weather. The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) works to empower and engage communities to put environmental justice and equity at the center of all climate action. Led by environmental justice scholar and advocate, author, civic leader and professor of Sociology Dr. Beverly L. Wright, the DSCEJ uses research, education, and community and student engagement to advocate for policy change, lead health and safety training for environmental careers, develop social and emotional community wellness programs, and create new and environmentally healthy opportunities for the residents of communities disproportionately impacted by historic environmental injustice.