Environmental Injustice in the United States: Myths and Realities

By James P. Lester; David W. Allen et al. | Go to book overview
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other factors, a risk-based approach would direct more resources to these communities. Indeed, a risk-based approach would give highest priority to attacking precisely the kinds of problems that concern Bullard ( Nichols, 1994: 268).

Other scholars have argued for setting meaningful priorities for risk reduction and cost-effective pollution control policies ( Andrews, 1998; Helfand and Peyton, 1999; Portney, 1991). Still others argue for environmental policies that combine both equity and risk assessment (see, e.g., Kraft and Scheberle, 1995: 113-121; Sexton, Anderson, and Adgate, 1999). The uniformity of the call for a risk-based solution, based on different arguments and different methods of analysis, would seem to lend a high degree of credibility to our rationality-equity-efficiency analysis, which has also arrived at the same preferred risk-based solution selected by other policy analysts.


This book has covered a wide range of topics associated with the question of environmental justice in the United States. We started with the nature of the problem in Chapter 1, reviewed the existing evidence in Chapter 2, and outlined how the question arrived on the agenda in Chapter 3. In Chapters 4-8, we outlined a wide range of statistical analysis that clearly articulated the scope and nature of the problem confronting the nation. In Chapter 9, we outlined actions by the federal and state governments designed to deal with aspects of the problem. Finally, Chapter 10 assessed the arguments about how to deal with the problem in a far more systematic and coherent fashion that has been heretofore attempted. This long journey has allowed us to recommend future directions for policy development that are based on rationality, equity, and efficiency. In doing so, we have argued that a risk-based solution would be the most desirable policy option for dealing with the problem.

Thus, we will close with the admonition made by Aaron Wildavsky some years ago:

Whatever the combination, speaking truth to power remains the ideal of analysts who hope they have truth, but realize they have not power. No one can do analysis without becoming aware that moral considerations are integral to the enterprise. After all, analysis is about what ought to be done, about making things better, not worse ( Wildavsky, 1979: 12-13).

It is our fervent hope that this policy analysis will make the problem of environmental injustice much better and not worse. After all, policy analysis is about improvement--about improving governmental and citizen deci


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