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To Government Officials:

We, the under-signed constituents, residents, friends, and neighbors of the Hickory Hill community, located in Memphis, TN, are concerned that predominately, minority neighborhoods in the city of Memphis are shouldering many unfair environmental and economic burdens. We demand action be taken immediately to correct these wrongs, and stop the proposed development of a landfill along Shelby Drive in the Hickory Hill area.

It is a statistical fact that people who live in the most polluted environments are commonly people of color and lower socio-economic status [1]. Both the Frayser and Hickory Hill communities in Memphis have been targeted for the development or expansion of landfills.

Placing such landfills in minority communities increases health issues [2], lowers the values of homes, and increases the wealth divide. Homeownership is a major way for families to build wealth in the United States. Owning an affordable home offers working families stability, security, and a financial legacy to pass on to the next generation. Placing landfills in a predominately, minority community affects the health and wealth of the residents today and their children tomorrow.

We insist action be taken to protect the residents, neighborhoods, and environment in the Hickory Hill area. We call on City and County Officials to:

  • Adopt the Jackson Law, codified in Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 68, Chapter 211, Part 7, to provide for local approval of the construction of privately owned landfills.
  • Ensure a strategy so that landfills no longer are developed primarily in minority communities (compounding the legacy of highly industrial zoning found in minority communities).
  • Require the written opinions of experts in the fields of Environmental Health and Earth Science, as part of a harms-benefit analysis, when making landfill decisions.
  • Commence implementation of comprehensive re-development programs, such as Memphis 3.0, to establish sustainable neighborhoods in the Hickory Hill area.

Thank you for your time and attention to this urgent problem.

  1.  Mohai, P. and Saha, R., Which came first, people or pollution? Assessing the disparate siting and post-siting demographic change hypotheses of environmental injustice. 2015. Environ. Res. Lett. 10 115008. 
  2. Brender et al., Residential Proximity to Environmental Hazards and Adverse Health Outcomes. 2011. Am J Public Health 101(Suppl 1): S37–S52.