Volume 29
Issue 4
Summer '17

Getting to the Root of Environmental Injustice: Evaluating Claims, Causes, and Solutions

Written By: R. Shea Diaz

Abstract

The Environmental Justice (EJ) Movement fights to remedy the disproportionate toxic exposure experienced by low-income and minority communities. This Note investigates three questions arising from the EJ Movement’s basic claim: (I) What empirical research, if any, evidences environmental injustice; (II) What causal theories are most supported by empirical research; and (III) How can society remedy environmental injustice without further harming low-income and minority communities? Part I reviews the literature evaluating claims of environmental injustice, concluding that there is broad support for the EJ Movement narrative. Part II evaluates potential causes of environmental injustice, finding that the research most supports discriminatory siting of toxic facilities, unequal regulatory enforcement, and unequal political power as the major culprits. Part III reckons with some unintended consequences of environmental cleanup projects, such as job loss for working class people and displacement resulting from increased property values. Finally, considering the causes already discussed, this Note examines some potential solutions to environmental injustice and makes recommendations for success.

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