News | February 24, 2022

Highlighting Black-led environmental justice partnerships

Robeson County resident Shalonda Regan and SELC attorney Heather Hillaker, right, walk with partners near the proposed site of a biomass facility planning to manufacture wood pellets. Testing recently showed Active Energy Renewable Power’s contaminated site is polluting the nearby Lumber River with “forever chemicals” also known as PFAS. SELC is representing Winyah Rivers Alliance in efforts to protect the community’s water and river. (@Julia Rendleman)

SELC is committed to being a partner in the fight for climate equity and broad access to clean transportation and clean energy. Below are just a few of the incredible partners we work with to solve our toughest environmental challenges, starting in the South.

The Phillips Community

Community leader Richard Habersham stands in front of the historic marker in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood founded following the Emancipation Proclamation by his predecessors, who were enslaved on nearby plantations. (@Paige Polk)

Audio producer Paige Polk talks with Phillips Community resident Richard Habersham about what his yard looks like after a heavy rain for SELC’s podcast, Broken Ground. (@Claudine McElwain)

When a highway expansion threatened to flood residents along Highway 41 in Mount Pleasant and fill in wetlands along the way, SELC partnered with local residents to pursue alternatives, one of which is now in the planning stages. 

For years the voices of the Phillips Community in the Highway 41 update process were overlooked. Groups in the partnership, including SELC, saw that we were worthwhile to save, worth fighting for, and with the combined resources of the partners we were able to amplify our voice and drive this in a better direction. We didn’t do this on our own, and it’s been great to see the difference this partnership has made.

Richard Hambersham


SELC attorney and community resident bump elbows.
Renee Cail, president of Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment, bumps elbows with SELC attorney Bob Sherrier at an event protesting the Metro Green recycling facility in South DeKalb, Ga.

Neighbors were caught off guard when a major solid waste handling facility popped up in their suburban community outside of Atlanta. Some digging showed a rushed permit process with little detail about what would actually be underway on site. And when they formed Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment or CHASE, and spoke out, the company used a frivolous lawsuit in an effort to silence them. With that case initiated by Metro Green dismissed, SELC continues to represent residents as they push state officials to enforce Georgia law and revoke the facility’s permit.

You can follow CHASE’s work at their website or on Twitter, @StopMetroGreen1.

It’s kind of unsettling when you’re sued for something but I just feel like we have to continue to stand for what we know is right.

Renee Cail, President of CHASE


A Black man wearing a covid mask and read ball cap sits socially distanced in a park holding two signs, one that reads "Earth over profit" and another crossing out the words "Byhalia Pipeline."
Early rallies brought various groups together to stop the unwanted and unneeded gas pipeline project in Southwest Memphis.

Stopping a proposed pipeline through historically Black neighborhoods in Southwest Memphis took incredible collaboration, led in large part by MCAP, Memphis Community Against Pollution. The group is now turning its attention to other nearby industrial sites, including the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Plant Allen, where a proposal to dispose of toxic coal ash threatens to subject Southwest Memphis neighborhoods to years of truck traffic, noise, and air pollution.

Keep up with their latest efforts at their website or on social media via Instagram, Twitter or their Facebook group.

No movement is a person. No victory is won by one organization. Movements are made, led, and built by People Power all over. MCAP is so grateful to SELC for being our guides, lawyers, and supporters in the environmental justice fight.

Justin Pearson, MCAP co-founder