Environmental Injustice in the United States: Myths and Realities

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

sionmaking for the policies they have before them, about improving the environment that gave rise to the problem in the first place. If we have helped in this complex yet terribly important process, then our mission is completed, and our reward is the satisfaction that comes from the labor therein.


Notes
1.
We are using the term "rationality" as a surrogate or substitute for the usual criteria of "responsiveness and appropriateness."
2.
Our analysis of environmental injustice was based on the strategic choice to focus, wherever possible, on the level of pollution with geopolitical units. We made this choice because it is the pollution dispersed into the community that is the source point of the problem. Our analyses in Chapters 5-7 do not speak to siting of new facilities. However, siting new facilities is of concern, and thus we need to discuss this aspect of the problem when dealing with policy alternatives.
3.
U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, Committee on Energy and Commerce, 1992, Impact of Lead Poisoning on Low- Income and Minority Communities, 102nd Cong., 2nd Sess., February 25, 1992.
4.
This is not an implausible situation. Indeed, the Bean case--discussed in Chapter 3--encountered this problem. The Bean case, a 1979 class-action lawsuit over hazardous waste against the city of Houston, Texas, and Houston-headquartered Brown Ferris Industries, was a major event in putting environmental racism on the policy agenda. The Bean case focused on opposition to a plan to site a municipal landfill near a suburban, middle-income neighborhood and a predominately African American high school. In their move for a preliminary injunction against the Texas Department of Health's disposal permit, the plaintiffs argued, in part, that the Texas Department of Health had engaged in a broader pattern of historical discrimination by allowing the siting of disposal facilities in minority communities. In support of their claim, the plaintiffs advanced statistical evidence compiled by Professor Robert Bullard that indicated that in Houston 82.4 percent of the seventeen disposal facilities in operation since 1978 were located in areas where the minority population was 50 percent or less. Of the total number of sites, 59 percent were in areas where the minority population was 25 percent or less. The trial court's opinion in Bean did not substantiate the claim of discrimination, noting that more than half of the sites were located in census tracts with minority populations of less than 25 percent. In sum, the Bean decision indicates that unless the minority population is large, regardless of the level of environmental hazards, official notice will not be taken of the problem of a race-based inequity. This is exactly the equity problem discussed in our hypothetical example.

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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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