Environmental Justice

Across the State of Missouri and beyond, environmental harms disproportionately affect marginalized populations. Educators have the power to highlight these injustices and inspire learners to act.

We know this page doesn’t contain a comprehensive list of environmental justice (EJ) issues in our state. If you know of EJ issues that aren’t highlighted here, please send us information about that to director@meea.org


St. Louis Environmental Racism Report

A 28-page report coordinated by Washington University in 2019. Provides comprehensive details about the environmental justice landscape in St. Louis, and serves as a great jumping-off point for those interested in adopting a similar lens to view the issues in their region of the state. 

Brownfield Redevelopment in Wellston

A short article chronicling the story of the Wagner Electric Company in Wellston, MO and how it became an infamous brownfield site, imposing an undue environmental and economic burden on the surrounding community.

Air Pollution Distribution in St. Louis

A short article discussing the unequal distribution of air pollutants in the City of St. Louis and its effect on public health.

EPA Accuses Missouri of Violating Civil Rights Act in St. Louis Fuel Plant Permit

The EPA has publicly accused the Missouri Department of Natural Resources of violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act in its permitting process of the Kinder Morgan transportation fuels plant. EPA found that DNR lacked a non-discrimination committment on its website, a Title VI complaint counselor in its workforce, and an accessible means of soliciting public comments from non-native English speakers on its projects.

Brownfield Site in Herculaneum

Lead poisoning from the Doe Run smelter affected 15% of children in the town, forcing the smelter to close and contaminated houses to be bought out. Herculaneum’s success in revitalizing the town after the smelter closing opposes the reality of its sister site in Carbondale, IL


Ammonia in the Water in Hannibal

Passionate moms in the town noticed higher levels of ammonia in the water than in some areas of Flint. The moms organized to educate residents on the issue and Hannibal became lead-free in March 2020. 

Know of environmental justice issues affecting Northeast Missouri? Submit them to MEEA via email at director@meea.org.


Air Pollution Distribution in Kansas City

This 12-page report makes an environmental justice case for the disproportionate levels of air and chemical pollution in two diverse communities in the Kansas City Metro Area.

Lead Poisoning in St. Joseph

This EPA update provides information about the lead poisoning crisis in St. Joseph and the agency’s work to address the injustice. 

Distribution of Parks and Environmental Amenities in Kansas City

This article analyzes the unequal distribution of parks and green space across the Kansas City area, leaving minority communities with less access to green space. 


CAFO Issues in Chillicothe

Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) threaten the health, economies, and environments of rural towns like Chillicothe. CAFOs contaminate groundwater supply and have been linked to increased asthma and allergy issues in nearby residents.

Water Quality Issues in Maryville

Runoff from agricultural production has contaminated the city water, exposing residents to a foul taste and smell. However, the water quality still complies with Missouri Department of Natural Resources standards, making it difficult for residents to push for improvements. Business owners have been forced to purchase purifying equipment to keep customers and stay open.


Asbestos Violations in Owensville

Several facilities in Boone County and its surrounding areas, including several schools, have reported asbestos. Many of these facilities have gone untreated due to funding constraints.

Ameren Plant Siting in Mid-Missouri

This document details Ameren Missouri’s plan to construct a new plant in the Mid-Missouri region. Demographic data points to the plant’s construction in the poorest areas of the region.


Regulatory Failure in the Lake of the Ozarks

The Scars of Project 459 : The Environmental Story of the Lake of the Ozarks by Traci Angel details the rise of the Lake of the Ozarks and how its construction came with a great cost to the environments and systems of the region. The economic dependency on the lake’s tourism disincentivizes any environmental improvements.

Know of environmental justice issues affecting the Ozarks? Submit them to MEEA via email at director@meea.org.


Lead Poisoning in Greene County

This letter outlines evidence for elevated lead poisoning levels among children in Greene County living near the Cinnamon Square subdivision, a development resting on former mining land.

Brownfields in Downtown Springfield

This report from the EPA details the history of the Jordan Creek brownfield in Downtown Springfield and the environmental impact of abandoned industry in poorer areas of the city.


Lead Poisoning in New Madrid County

This report discusses issue of childhood lead poisoning in Missouri, demonstrating high levels of lead contamination in the water of the impoverished Missouri bootheel due to mining and lead smelters.

Toxic Chemicals Contamination in the Bootheel

This EPA report outlines an interagency collaboration in the impoverished bootheel region to provide widespread monitoring and testing of water, and the implementation of an information campaign to prevent the use of toxic farming chemicals that contaminate water.

emissions from an energy plant

Several national organizations have released research, educational content, and lesson plans to equip educators with the resources to discuss environmental justice in their classrooms. MEEA has collected some of our favorites below. 

Environmental Racism Has Left Black Communities Especially Vulnerable to COVID-19

Research based commentary on the impact of COVID-19 intervention strategies and the negative impact on health in Black communities.

NAACP Environmental Justice Resource Guide: Teaching Intersectionality and Environmental Justice in our Classrooms

Includes a wealth of resources including resource list webpages, lesson plans, songs, and videos.

Common Sense Education’s Social and Cultural Literacy for Classrooms

Common Sense Education organizes social justice and educational equity resources that they call the “best of the best” by topics that make it easy to scroll through and evaluate which resources might be best suited to what you’re looking for.

Teaching With Equity and Inclusion

Environmental Educators of North Carolina has curated a wonderfully organized list of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Resources for EE practitioners.