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Environmental Justice RD300 26 September 2001. How did the environmental justice (EJ) movement arise? “The environmental justice movement was started.

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Presentation on theme: "Environmental Justice RD300 26 September 2001. How did the environmental justice (EJ) movement arise? “The environmental justice movement was started."— Presentation transcript:

1 Environmental Justice RD300 26 September 2001

2 How did the environmental justice (EJ) movement arise? “The environmental justice movement was started by people, primarily people of color, who needed to address the inequity of environmental protection services in their communities.”

3 How did the environmental justice movement arise? “Grounded in the struggles of the 1960's civil rights movement, these citizens from every facet of life, emerged to elucidate the environmental inequities facing millions of people. These communities rose to articulate and to sound the alarm about the public health dangers which posed an immediate danger to the lives of their families, their communities and themselves.”

4 EJ History The EJ Movement began in 1982 in a small, low-income, predominately African-American community in Warren County, North Carolina. A landfill had been created for the disposal of PCB contaminated soil from many sites around the state. Numerous demonstrations were staged, which resulted not only in the arrest of more than 500 people but became a rallying point for the emerging EJ Movement.

5 EJ History This led to the US General Accounting Office conducting a study of eight southern states to determine the correlation between the location of hazardous waste landfills and the racial and economic status of the surrounding communities. The study found that three out of every four landfills were located near predominantly minority communities.

6 Historical Perspective  By the 1970s it was known that exposure to environmental pollutants was not distributed equally within the population.  By the late 1980s a number of studies had highlighted the fact that minority neighborhoods generally suffered from poorer environmental quality.

7 Historical Perspective  Charges of “environmental racism”.  Poor and politically powerless communities were also affected disproportionately.  Many grassroots groups joined together to form the ‘environmental justice movement’.  Myth that poor and minority individuals are less concerned about environmental quality.

8 Health Concerns  Just because a person lives close to a potentially hazardous facility does not mean he or she is exposed to unhealthy levels of pollution.  However, exposure to pollutants can result in a variety of health problems including: cancers, birth defects, asthma, allergies, and neurological disorders.

9 Health Concerns  Residents fear that inequities in exposure to contaminants will result in higher rates of death and disease.  Problem: Difficult to link health problems in poor and minority communities with exposure to pollution. Why?

10 What is Environmental Justice (EJ)?  "EJ is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” (EPA Region 5)

11 The EPA and EJ  A study by the National Law Journal found that the EPA took 20% longer to cite abandoned contaminated sites in minority communities as a priority, as compared to the time it took to prioritize sites in white communities.  Polluters of such communities paid fines 54% lower than polluters of white communities.

12 EPA Environmental Equity Workgroup In response to a variety of concerns raised by EPA staff and the public (the Michigan Coalition, Congressional Black Caucus, and others), then EPA Administrator William Reilly formed the EPA Environmental Equity Workgroup in 1990 with staff from all EPA offices and regions across the Agency.

13 EPA Environmental Equity Workgroup The Workgroup was directed to assess the evidence that racial minority and low- income communities bear a higher environmental risk burden than the general population, and consider what the EPA might do about any identified disparities. Source:

14 Executive Order 12898 (Feb. 1994)  “each federal agency shall make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations of the United States and its territories and possessions.”

15  Fair treatment implies that no people should be forced to shoulder a disproportionate share of the negative environmental impacts of pollution or hazards due to a lack of political, economic, or educational strength.  The EPA is to investigate all environmental issues and situations that raise questions of justice and equity.

16 EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice The EPA created the Office in 1992 in response to public concern and at the recommendation of the Environmental Equity Workgroup. The Office oversees the integration of environmental justice into EPA's policies, programs, and activities throughout the Agency; serves as the point of contact for environmental justice outreach and educational activities; provides technical and financial assistance.

17 State Efforts  States such as California, Florida, Texas, and Wisconsin have created environmental justice commissions.  Michigan DEQ

18 Michigan EJ Groups  Detroiter's Working for Environmental Justice  Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision Project http://www-

19 The EJ Paradigm  EJ examines the ethical and political questions of “who get what, when, why and how much”.  All individuals have a right to be protected from environmental degradation.  It adopts a public health model of prevention.  It shifts the burden of proof to polluters who do harm.

20 Superfund NPL Sites with Potential EJ Concerns

21 What are the causes of the inequitable distribution of polluting facilities? Possible explanations:  Scientific rationality.  Market rationality  Neighborhood transition  Political power  Intentional discrimination

22 “In many cases, the only science involved in the siting of LULUs is political science” (Bullard et al., 1997, p.64) Agree or disagree?

23 “…discriminatory intent is not necessary to produce discriminatory outcomes.”

24 Brownfields  A brownfield is a site, or portion thereof, that has actual or perceived contamination and an active potential for redevelopment or reuse.

25  Many areas across the country that were once used for industrial and commercial purposes have been abandoned--some are contaminated.  Due to fear that involvement with these sites may make them liable for cleaning up contamination they did not create, developers are more attracted to developing sites in pristine areas, called "greenfields."

26  The result can be blighted areas rife with abandoned industrial facilities that create safety and health risks for residents, drive up unemployment, and foster a sense of hopelessness.  These areas are called "brownfields."

27 Brownfield Redevelopment  EPA's Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative is designed to empower states, communities, and other stakeholders in economic redevelopment to work together in a timely manner to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields.

28 Brownfields Tax Incentive Brownfields Assessment Demonstration Pilots -testing new redevelopment models.


30 Lansing Lansing has identified approximately 100 potential brownfield properties located throughout the city that, when revitalized, will help reverse the city’s decline. The city has a median household income of $26,398, 15% below the state as a whole; and 19% of the population lives below poverty level, a rate which is 6% higher than the state’s overall rate.

31 Lansing In 1997, two tax-free Renaissance Zones were created in Lansing and the entire city is designated as a redevelopment area under the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Plan.

32 EmeryStation Plaza (The Westinghouse Site) bf-stat-emstation.html

33 New Cases Emerging In April 2001, a federal judge granted a temporary injunction halting operations at a Camden N. J. cement plant, saying toxic emissions from the facility would harm nearby residents and violate their civil rights. The Court found that in issuing a permit the NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection had violated the civil rights of the African-American and Hispanic residents, who comprise 90% of the residents in the census tract where the facility is located. The state failed to consider the cumulative threat posed by pollution from industrial sources already located in the primarily minority community.

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