Environmental Injustice in the United States: Myths and Realities

By James P. Lester; David W. Allen et al. | Go to book overview

an interest in environmental justice. Events and policy communities within states have prompted legislative action. Therefore, the issue may be gaining the momentum needed to keep it on state-level agendas, thereby leading to continued recognition at the federal level, at least in terms of maintaining the executive order and the EPA Office of Environmental Justice.

Another setback for the movement at the national level was the dismissal of one of its most well-known entrepreneurs, Benjamin Chavis, from his position as executive director of the NAACP. He appeared at multiple congressional hearings on environmental justice issues and attended national events that effected the movement. It remains to be seen if he will continue to be involved in the promotion of environmental justice as a public figure or on behalf of another civil rights organization. Perhaps another nationally recognized environmental justice activist will take over where Chavis left off.

Overall, it appears that environmental justice has been legitimized as an issue on the policy agenda. Mechanisms have been put into place that will allow the issue to be studied in more depth and perhaps result in greater evidence supporting environmental justice claims. For example, national health studies will now be demographically characterized in order to examine adverse health conditions based on socioeconomic breakdowns. However, as illustrated by the Kingdon model, it is not enough to develop the problem stream. If the policy stream of environmental justice cannot be coupled with the problem stream, there will be no chance of the issue moving through the decisionmaking agenda. Moreover, if empirical research on this topic continues to call into question the basic validity of the thesis, then support within Congress for legislation may wane as well. In addition, if the traditional environmental and civil rights organizations abandon the issue of environmental justice, it remains to be seen if grassroots activists can form a policy community that will keep the issue on the national policy agenda.

We have discussed in this chapter how the issue of environmental injustice has emerged onto the public agenda. In Chapter 4, we discuss exactly how we propose to analyze the validity of the claims of environmental injustice discussed above. In the subsequent chapters, we present the results of our analyses at the state, county, and city levels before we finally suggest in Chapter 10 what might be done to alleviate this potential problem for public policy in the United States.


Notes
1.
The fact that the environmental justice movement has been in progress since at least the early 1970s (and arguably since the 1960s) makes it well suited to an analysis

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Environmental Injustice in the United States: Myths and Realities
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Dedications v
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables ix
  • Preface and Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Introduction the Nature of the Problem 1
  • Notes 7
  • 2 - Environmental Injustice Research: Reviewing the Evidence 9
  • Notes 18
  • 3 - Environmental Justice: Getting on the Public Agenda 21
  • Summary and Conclusions 51
  • Notes 52
  • 4 - Modeling Environmental Injustice: Concepts, Measures, Hypotheses, and Method of Analysis 57
  • Summary 73
  • Notes 74
  • 5 - Environmental Injustice in America's States 79
  • Notes 106
  • 6 - Environmental Injustice in America's Counties 113
  • Conclusion 129
  • Notes 131
  • 7 - Environmental Injustice in America's Cities 133
  • Conclusion 144
  • Notes 147
  • 8 - Summary and Conclusions from the Multilevel Analyses 149
  • Conclusion 156
  • Note 157
  • 9 - Existing Federal and State Policies for Environmental Justice: Problems and Prospects 159
  • Summary and Conclusion 171
  • Summary and Conclusion 171
  • 10 - Designing an Effective Policy for Environmental Justice: Implications and Recommendations 173
  • Conclusion 187
  • Notes 188
  • References 189
  • About the Authors 203
  • Index 205
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