Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1996


Although the environmental justice movement catapulted into national consciousness during the 1990s, as reflected most notably in President Clinton's 1994 Executive Order on Environmental Justice, communities of color still face an uphill struggle fighting specific siting decisions. One community in the midst of such a battle is Bayview-Hunters Point, a low and middle-income community in San FrancIsco, overwhelmingly comprised of people of color. It is home to San Francisco's two existing power plants, and is burdened with a very high concentration of the City's dirty industries. In 1994, the San Francisco Energy Company proposed siting yet another power plant in the area. If the plant is built, the neighborhood would have more power plants than any area its size in the nation. Community residents have responded with a vigorous legal and organizational campaign to stop the project.

This article describes several strategies employed by the community and its legal representatives in this high profile case. These include developing a community toxics profile and working with city officials to initiate a community health assessment, presenting environmental justice testimony at evidentiary hearings before the California Energy Commission, and seeking a temporary moratorium on the siting of new polluting facilities to allow government agencies time to evaluate the disproportionate health problems In the community. Although the case is ongoing, the community's innovative approaches can provide important lessons for other environmental justice advocates.