Environmental Injustice in the United States: Myths and Realities

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

3
Environmental Justice: Getting on the Public Agenda

Agenda-setting is characterized by the appearance of problems and issues that grab the policy spotlight for brief moments while solutions are found or interest diminishes and they fade into obscurity. Some of these issues also continuously reemerge for consideration among government decisionmakers, and the associated problems, which may not have been satisfactorily addressed by government policies on the initial iteration, often return to the agenda redefined and thus amiable to solution. The environmental justice movement highlights this agenda-setting process.

Questions regarding the inequitable distribution of the nation's pollutants and their potential adverse health effects among certain segments of the population have been debated since the early 1970s. Since that time, there has been increased recognition of the phenomenon, as well as a redefinition of the debate as the concept matured. The problem has been defined by three distinct interpretations: environmental equity, environmental racism, and environmental justice. "Environmental equity" refers to the idea that potential pollution sources, such as LULUs, and their related health effects should not be disproportionately distributed among specific segments of the population, namely, the poor and minorities. "Environmental racism" is a broader label used for any policy, practice, or directive that differentially affects the environment of individuals, groups, or communities based on race. More recently, the expression "environmental justice" has been coined to encompass the concepts of environmental equity and environmental racism, with the assertion that environmental justice can be achieved only when all individuals, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, are equally protected from environmental harms and their related adverse health effects. Environmental justice advocates state that the overriding goal of the movement is the creation of a society wherein no racial or ethnic group or social class dis-

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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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