Environmental Justice through Research-Based Decision-Making

Environmental Justice through Research-Based Decision-Making

Environmental Justice through Research-Based Decision-Making

Environmental Justice through Research-Based Decision-Making

Synopsis

This book discusses whether and to what extent there are widespread injustices and inequities caused by the distribution of environmental hazards in America today.

Excerpt

This volume is another in the Garland series of books designed to examine the significant issues in public sector management. Environmental justice is a new term, less than 30 years old, and is primarily a public policy term. Simply stated, federal and state governments have concluded that a societal problem exists because of disportionate spatial exposure to environmental hazards among minority, low-income, and other susceptible populations. Appropriately, governments have devised several policies and programs to solve or ameliorate the societal problem.

In this book, William Bowen questions the efficacy of government policies and decisions related to environmental justice by giving a critical look at how well issues of environmental justice are researched. According to Bowen, the proposition that substantial public health burdens are borne by disadvantaged groups being exposed to environmental hazards has not been adequately proven scientifically. He develops an argument that environmental justice is “largely a provocative political symbol invoked to elicit citizen participation toward greater empowerment for selected social groups, independently of any empirical justification.”

The book is divided into three sections. The first contains a plethora in information that contextualizes government’s role to solve societal problems and its requirement to properly identify a problem before trying to solve it. Bowen shows that the situations in which environmental justice concerns arise are inherently complex. He maintains that policy and administrative decision-makers need a scientifically warranted level of concreteness in defining the problem.

The second section gives an inclusive critical review of the current research literature that attempts to show an environmental justice problem. Bowen concludes that most current research is descriptive and data are unreliable—the scientific foundation is not there.

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