HISTORY: In the area of Louisville, Kentucky, known as “Rubbertown,” 11 industrial facilities have historically released millions of pounds per year of toxic air emissions. The surrounding community is predominantly Black. In May 2004, Louisville organizers convened a broad coalition of grassroots, labor, health and environmental justice groups whose common goal was to pass government policies that protect human health and the environment from exposure to unnecessary harmful chemicals. This initiated a year-long collaborative process to create the original Louisville Charter For Safer Chemicals, which served as a shared platform for change.
NOW IN 2021, our network has grown, and we've continued to clarify our vision. The charter has been updated to more explicitly confront the chemical industry's massive contribution to the climate crisis and provide principled guidance for advancing environmental justice in communities disproportionately impacted by harmful and cumulative chemical exposure, while avoiding false solutions. The updated Louisville Charter has been endorsed by over 100 organizations representing environmental justice and grassroots communities, environmental and health nonprofits, and leaders in the medical, public health, business, science and research communities. It is meant to serve as a shared roadmap for transforming the chemical industry so that it is no longer a source of greenhouse gas emissions and toxic harm.
The Louisville Charter consists of an introductory vision statement, core principles and policy recommendations, and 10 platform “planks” that, when adopted collectively, will achieve the vision of a safe and sustainable chemical industry that does not harm people, the environment, or the climate. These 10 planks are:
1. Address the Significant Impacts of Chemical Production and Use on Climate Change, including the significant reduction or elimination of fossil fuels and other greenhouse gases in every part of the chemical production process, from plastic creation to the production of fluorinated gases that on their own exacerbate climate change.
2. Prevent Disproportionate Exposures and Hazards, and Reduce Cumulative Impacts on Environmental Justice Communities, including communities of color, Tribes and Native/Indigenous communities, and low-income communities that experience multiple pollutants from multiple sources and accumulation over time.
3. Require Safer Substitutes and Solutions for a Non-Toxic Economy by: redesigning chemical products and systems; altering production processes; substituting with safer chemicals; limiting output to produce chemicals shown to be safe throughout their lifecycle; and rewarding innovation.
4. Use Scientific Data to Support Health-Protective Policies and Practices, including addressing chemical classes, rather than one chemical at a time, when possible.
5. Take Urgent Action to Stop Production and Recover Chemicals that are Unsafe and/or Accumulate in the Environment and People, including phasing out, banning and recovering chemicals that present immediate threats to safety due to flammability or potential to explode; do not break down or are slow to degrade (persistent); accumulate in people and the food chain (bioaccumulative); are highly mobile in the environment and threaten drinking water supplies; and/or contribute to climate change.
6. Act with Foresight to Protect Health and Prevent Pollution when credible evidence shows that a substance or class of substances is potentially hazardous and/or harm is occurring or is likely to occur, even when information is incomplete, in order to safeguard communities, workers, consumers, and others from exposure.
7. Take Immediate Action to Protect, Restore and Strengthen Communities when there has been exposure to levels of chemicals that pose an immediate health or safety hazard.
8. Ensure the Public and Workers Fully Have the Right-To-Know, Participate and Decide in the decisions that impact their health because of the potential harm from toxic chemicals.
9. Incentivize Responsible Business & Safer Chemicals, including curtailing subsidies for companies that continue to pollute and produce chemicals that are harmful to human health and the environment.
10. Build an Equitable and Health-Based Sustainable Economy that transitions us from prioritizing short-term profit at all costs to valuing safety, health and equity.
Endorse as an organization Endorse as a business Endorse as an individual
Agri-Cultura Cooperative Network
Alaska Community Action on Toxics
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas
Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
American Sustainable Business Network
As You Sow
Black Women For Wellness
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners
California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
California Safe Schools
Californians for Pesticide Reform
Campaign for Healthier Solutions
Campaign for Lead Free Water
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Environmental Health
Center for Environmental Policy and Management, University of Louisville
Center for Farmworker Families
Center for Food Safety
Center for Health, Environment & Justice
Center for International Environmental Law
Center for Progressive Reform
Children's Environmental Health Network
Clean and Healthy New York
Clean Power Lake County
Clean Production Action
Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund
Collaborative on Health and the Environment
Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center
Community Action Works
Concerned Residents of Wagon Mound and Mora County
Defend Our Health
Delaware Concerned Residents for Environmental Justice
Dr. Yolanda Whyte Pediatrics
Environmental Data & Governance Initiative
Environmental & Public Health Consulting
Environmental Community Action-ECO-Action
Environmental Justice Health Alliance
Family Farm Defenders
Farmworker Association of Florida
Friends of the Earth US
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Global Center for Climate Justice
Green Inside and Out, Inc.
Green Science Policy Institute
Harambee House, Inc.
Health Care Without Harm
Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate
Healthy Babies Bright Futures
Healthy Building Network
Healthy Schools Network
Informed Green Solutions, Inc.
International Center for Technology Assessment
International Living Future Institute
International Pollutants Elimination Network
Investor Advocates for Social Justice
Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society
Jefferson County Vision
Just Transition Alliance
Karen Bowman & Associates, Inc.
Law Office of Dona Marie Hippert
Learning Disabilities Association of Alabama
Learning Disabilities Association of America
Learning Disabilities Association of Connecticut
Learning Disabilities Association of Delaware
Learning Disabilities Association of Georgia
Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois
Learning Disabilities Association of Maine
Learning Disabilities Association of Michigan
Learning Disabilities Association of South Carolina
Learning Disabilities Association of Texas
Learning Disabilities Association of Utah
Learning Disabilities Association of Virginia
Learning Disabilities Association of Wisconsin
Lincoln Sarnoff Consulting
Los Jardines Institute
Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, UMass Lowell
Material Research L3C
Migrant Clinicians Network
Mind the Store
Moms Across America
Moms Clean Air Force
National Family Farm Coalition
Natural Resources Defense Council
North American Marine Alliance
Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative
Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides
Odessa Films, Inc.
Organización en California de Lideres Campesinas, Inc.
Partners in Healthy Communities
People Concerned About Chemical Safety
Pesticide Action Network
Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles
REACT- Rubbertown Emergency ACTion
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
Science and Environmental Health Network
Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke
Texas Campaign for the Environment
Torrance Refinery Action Alliance
Toxic Free NC
Toxic Free Future
Union of Concerned Scientists
Until Justice Data Partners, Inc.
Vermont Public Interest Research Group
Web of Life Products
Western Broome Environmental Stakeholders Coalition
Women's Voices for the Earth
Zero Waste Washington