Tag Archives: environmental racism

Pursuing Environmental Justice with International Human Rights and State Constitutions (Neil A. F. Popovic)

Author

Neil A.F. Popovic

Keywords

environmental justice, environmental rights, international human rights, state constitution, environmental racism, environmental degradation, poverty, social rights, environmental hazards, inequality, civil rights

Extract

I. Introduction

Notwithstanding the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law, environmental racism thrives in the United States. Its manifestations include toxic waste dumps on indigenous lands, hazardous industrial facilities in communities of color, lead paint in decrepit housing projects, and use of dangerous pesticides in industrial agriculture. Environmental racism feeds on and perpetuates the social, economic and political marginalization of low-income communities and communities of color. As such, environmental racism in the United States represents a serious blight on the country’s human rights record.

Discriminatory siting decisions for environmentally hazardous facilities and uneven enforcement decisions do not necessarily result from consciously racist policy choices. More likely, they issue from a political and social system that marginalizes the participation and concern of communities of color, often through ostensibly neutral criteria. The effect, however, is no less racist than overt discrimination.

The United States has a substantial body of both environmental and civil rights laws, but none of these laws addresses the link between racism and environmental quality. 2 At best, environmental laws can enhance protection of the environment while civil rights laws can facilitate the rectification of overt racial discrimination. Neither body of law, however, addresses the impact of environmental degradation on human communities, and neither deals specifically with environmental racism.

Citation

(1996) 15 Stanford Environmental Law Journal 338 pp. 344-47

Paper

Pursuing Environmental Justice with International Human Rights and State Constitutions

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The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution (Robert D Bullard)

Author

Robert D Bullard

Keywords

Environmental injustice, environmental justice, human rights, abuses, grassroots, globalisation, environmental racism

Abstract

In 1994, Sierra Club Books was proud to publish Dr. Robert D. Bullard’s “Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color”, a collection of essays contributed by some of the leading participants in the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, which focused attention on ‘environmental racism’ – racial discrimination in environmental policymaking and the enforcement of environmental protection laws and regulations. Now, picking up where that groundbreaking anthology left off, Dr. Bullard has assembled a new collection of essays that capture the voices of frontline warriors who are battling environmental injustice and human rights abuses at the grassroots level around the world and challenging government and industry policies and globalization trends that place people of color and the poor at special risk. Part I presents an overview of the early environmental justice movement and highlights key leadership roles assumed by women activists. Part II examines the lives of people living in ‘sacrifice zones’ – toxic corridors (such as Louisiana’s infamous ‘Cancer Alley’) where high concentrations of polluting industries are found. Part III explores land use, land rights, resource extraction, and sustainable development conflicts, including Chicano struggles in America’s Southwest. Part IV examines human rights and global justice issues, including an analysis of South Africa’s legacy of environmental racism and the corruption and continuing violence plaguing the oil-rich Niger delta. Together, the diverse contributors to this much-anticipated follow-up anthology present an inspiring and illuminating picture of the environmental justice movement in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Citation

Robert D Bullard, The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution (San Francisco, Sierra Club Books, 2005)

Publication

The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution

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Melding Civil Rights and Environmentalism: Finding Environmental Justice’s Place… (T. Yang)

Author

Tseming Yang

Keywords

Environmental law, environmental justice, civil rights law, environmental paradigm, environmental racism

Abstract

As one of the defining issues in environmental regulation over the past decade, the environmental justice movement has sought to bring civil rights and broader social justice issues to the forefront of environmental protection. The movement’s challenge to traditional environmental regulation has distinguished itself because it has come from another group of political liberals rather than conservatives. Its goals remain largely unrealized, however, even though concerns about race and distributional equity in environmental protection are unlikely to go away. As explanations for this lack of success, scholars have pointed to specific legal doctrines as well as larger issues of lack of political power. Unfortunately, such accounts ignore the genuine concern and sincere efforts of many environmentalists and regulators in regard to these issues and the structural obstacles impeding attempts to change the environmental regulatory system.

This essay seeks to provide a better understanding of these difficulties by examining the paradigms that civil rights law and environmental law have been based upon. A close analysis of Brown v. Board of Education, the foundational model for modern civil rights law, and the conceptions of environmental degradation put forth by Garrett Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons” and Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” illustrates the contrasting structures, methodologies, and value premises of civil rights and environmental law. They provide important insights into the debate about the environmental justice movement and the difficulties that environmental regulators have encountered in addressing distributional equity and fairness concerns much more broadly. Efforts by environmental regulators to address the concerns of the environmental justice movement are unlikely to succeed without measures addressing these deeper-lying tensions.

Citation

(2002) 26 Harvard Environmental Law Review 1

Paper

Melding Civil Rights and Environmentalism: Finding Environmental Justice’s Place in Environmental Regulation

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Teaching and learning guide for: environmental justice (J. Sze, J. London)

Author

Julie Sze and Jonathan London

Keywords

Environmental justice; environmental racism; urban; planning; public health; law; ethnic studies; public policy; social movements; environmental and social inequalities.

Abstract

Over the last 25 years, the environmental justice movement has emerged from its earliest focus on US social movements combating environmental racism to an influential global phenomenon. Environmental justice research has also undergone spectacular growth and diffusion in the last two decades. From its earliest roots in sociology, the field is now firmly entrenched in several different academic disciplines including geography, urban planning, public health, law, ethnic studies, and public policy. Environmental justice refers simultaneously to a vibrant and growing academic research field, a system of social movements aimed at addressing various environmental and social inequalities, and public policies crafted to ameliorate conditions of environmental and social injustice. Academia is responding to this social problem by offering courses under various rubrics, such as ‘Race, Poverty and the Environment, Environmental Racism, Environmental Justice’, ‘Urban Planning, Public Health And Environmental Justice’, and so on. Courses on environmental justice offer students opportunities to critically and reflexively explore issues of race and racism, social inequality, social movements, public/environmental health, public policy and law, and intersections of science and policy. Integrating modules on environmental justice can help professors engage students in action research, service learning, and more broadly, critical pedagogy.

This article offers an overview of the current state of the field and offers a range of resources for teaching concepts of environmental racism, inequality and injustice in the classroom.

Citation

(2009) 3(6) Sociology Compass, 1022-1028.

Paper

Teaching and learning guide for: environmental justice.

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