Environmental Injustice in the United States: Myths and Realities

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

Preface and Acknowledgments

The expression "environmental racism" is defined as "race-based discrimination in environmental policymaking; race-based differential enforcement of environmental rules and regulations; the intentional targeting of minority communities for toxic waste disposal and transfer and for the siting of polluting industries; and the exclusion of people of color from public and private boards and commissions, regulatory bodies, and environmental nonprofit organizations" ( Collin, 1993).

Although the issue of environmental racism has existed at least as long as the environmental movement itself, it received serious attention only in the 1990s. Indeed, African Americans in Louisiana and Mississippi contend that state decisions involving hazardous waste treatment plants have had the effect of unfairly exposing them to more toxic pollutants than is the case for white citizens. They assert that the state's permit procedures, which are supported by federal money, are partly to blame. These claims caused Bill Clinton's administration to agree to investigate complaints that Louisiana and Mississippi were violating the civil rights of African Americans by permitting industrial pollution in their neighborhoods at a rate far greater than is the case for white neighborhoods. Specifically, the federal Office of Civil Rights, located within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), notified the two states in question in October 1993 that it had opened an investigation under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in federally funded programs.

In contrast to the argument that prompted an investigation under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, others argue that state officials are not deliberately steering pollution toward black communities. Rather, factors other than racism--such as the cost of land, population density, and geological conditions--have dictated the location of such noxious facilities. At any rate, in 1992 EPA established the new Office of Environmental Equity to address issues associated with environmental racism, and on February 11, 1994, President Clinton issued Executive Order No. 12898, requiring federal

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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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