Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices from the Grassroots

By Robert D. Bullard | Go to book overview

Chapter 12

Conclusion: Environmentalism with Justice

Robert D. Bullard

This book documents the problem of environmental racism as well as the diverse environmental justice movement that has recently emerged in African-American, Hispanic, Native-American, and other minority communities to address it Growing out of the work of scholars and activists at the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit held in October 1991, this book speaks with both clarity and urgency. It offers the reader the chance to hear important voices of pain and resistance, voices from the grassroots.

The book thus stands in stark contrast to the report Environmental Equity. Reducing Risk for All Communities, published in February 1992 by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. That report, which took the EPA over eighteen months to complete, was written as a response to several scholars of color active in the environmental justice movement who wrote to the EPA's top administrator, William Reilly, asking that the agency finally address the disproportionately high environmental risks borne by people of color and low-income communities. Yet, despite more than eighteen months of study, the EPA failed to grasp the interplay of race and class biasing environmental decisionmaking. The weaknesses of the report are worth analyzing.


The EPA and Environmental Equity

The EPA's report is best seen as part of the EPA's "outreach strategy" to mount a public relations campaign to drive a wedge between grassroots environmental justice activists and mainstream civil rights and environmental groups rather than offer a substantive effort to address environmental problems that disproportionately harm people of color and low-income citizens. The agency's overall outreach plan was detailed in a confidential memorandum written by Lewis Crampton, an

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