Judges' Final Statements and Conclusions

THIS TRIBUNAL strongly recommends that the states of West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, along with all environmental agencies, should

(1) Suspend all actions,

(2) Undertake necessary, thorough investigations, such as environmental, cultural and health impacts assessments, with real voice and real vote from the community,

(3) Immediately Cease and Desist eminent domain actions.

 

In addition, we strongly recommend that the United Nations Human Rights Council should put the United States on trial for crimes against human rights.

Full Judges Conclusions and Recommendations Document

Background of the Judges

Lois Gibbs

Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), an advocacy group that since 1981 has helped over 15,000 grassroots groups with organizing and technical assistance in their environmental struggles for justice and human rights. Lois was raising her family in Love Canal, near Niagara Falls in upstate New York, in 1978 when she discovered that her home, those of her neighbors, and their children’s elementary school were sitting on 20,000 tons of toxic chemicals. That shocking discovery spurred Lois to lead her community in a three-year struggle to protect their families from the hazardous waste buried in their backyards. By trial and error, Lois and her neighbors developed the strategies and methods to educate and organize the community, assess the impacts of toxic waste on their health, and challenge corporate and government policies on the dumping of hazardous materials. Her leadership led to the relocation of 833 Love Canal households in 1980.

 

This environmental disaster led to the enactment of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) or Superfund designed to grant authority to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states and Native American tribes to manage and clean up the nation’s most dangerous waste sites. Superfund gives the EPA the responsibility to address acute local and national environmental emergencies that threaten public health and the environment. Lois remains fully engaged with community struggles against inaction at Superfund sites and fracked gas and oil pollution, with a mission to protect and create healthy neighborhoods and schools and prevent climate change. 

 

Lois has received many awards for her work, including the Goldman Environmental Prize, the Heinz Award, and the John Gardner Leadership Award. In 2003, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as a result of her tireless efforts, which continue to this day.

James Igoe

Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Virginia. An environmental anthropologist, he has conducted field research on biodiversity conservation, community-based development, and grassroots social movements in Tanzania, Pine Ridge, North Dakota, and New Orleans, Louisiana. His work engages the intersections of indigenous social movements, environmental justice, and nature conservation. He has documented and analyzed ways in which nature parks in Africa and North America have displaced indigenous communities, while terraforming landscapes in ways that concealed and devalued indigenous modes of belonging and caring for the environment. In New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he worked on grassroots neighborhood recovery issues. His latest work engages community-based land titling and natural resource management in Tanzania. He is interested in the potential power of alliances between indigenous and local communities and environmental organizations, in response to extractive industry and associated socio-environmental harm.

Adrienne Hollis

Director of Federal Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a 30-year-old environmental justice advocacy group that works to empower and organize low-income, people of color to build healthy communities for all. Dr. Hollis holds both a doctorate degree in biomedical sciences and a law degree focused in environmental law. Her postdoctoral studies focused on inhalation toxicology at Harvard University’s School of Public Health. She served as Supervisory Environmental Health Scientist and Toxicologist (Section Chief) at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to address health concerns related to Superfund sites, especially cumulative exposures to hazardous chemicals. Dr. Hollis has worked with many community organizations building a wealth of experience in community-based participatory research on environmental justice issues. She teaches at the American University Washington College of Law and the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.