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Environmental Justice In this chapter, I attempt to do three things that are necessary in order for the reader to understand my later arguments and case study. First, I briefly track the history of the environmental justice (EJ) concept and resulting movement. I examine its institutional setting and some of the policy tools its advocates and activists use, finally offering an EJ critique of risk assessment and expert-led research. Second, I look at the definition, framing, and discourse of environmental justice and at the EJP in order to compare and contrast it to the NEP and JSP in chapter 3. Third, I look at unequal environmental protection in Massachusetts , as this is the physical setting for my case study of ACE in Boston in chapter 5, focusing on metro Boston’s Mystic River Watershed, the development and implementation of the Commonwealth’s policy, the difficulties inherent in defining “Environmental Justice Populations,” and the lack of explicit policy linkages to the state’s sustainable development policies. A Brief History Environmental justice concerns have been around since the conquest of Columbus in 1492.1 The U.S. environmental justice movement, however, is generally believed to have started around fall 1982, when a large protest took place in Warren County, North Carolina.2 The state wanted to dump more than six thousand truckloads of soil contaminated with PCBs into what was euphemistically described as “a secure landfill.” The protesters came from miles around. They were black and white, ordinary (outraged) citizens, and prominent members of the civil rights movement and the National Black Caucus. Police arrested more than five hundred protestors in what Geiser and Waneck (1994:52) describe as “the first time people have gone to jail trying to stop a toxic wastes landfill.” 1 14 As a result of the events in Warren County, the General Accounting Office (GAO) examined the location of four hazardous-waste landfills in EPA Region IV (the Southeast), where racial minorities average 20 percent of the total population. However, the four facilities were found to be in communities in which minorities made up 38 percent, 52 percent , 66 percent, and 90 percent of the population. The GAO concluded that there was enough evidence to be concerned about inequities in facility siting (GAO 1983). The landmark 1987 United Church of Christ study “Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States” showed that certain communities, predominantly communities of color, are at disproportionate risk from commercial toxic waste. This finding was confirmed by later research (Adeola 1994; Bryant and Mohai 1992; Bullard 1990a, 1990b; Mohai and Bryant 1992; Goldman 1993). It also led to the coining of a term, by Benjamin Chavis, that became a rallying cry: environmental racism. The finding of environmental racism combined with the conclusion of Lavelle and Coyle (1992) in the National Law Journal that there is unequal protection and enforcement of environmental law by the EPA, has ensured that there is now a full-fledged environmental justice movement made up of tenants associations, religious groups, civil rights groups, farm workers, professional not-for-profits, university centers and academics, and labor unions, among others. The movement stretches from Alaska to Alabama and from California to Connecticut, driven by the grassroots activism of African American, Latino, Asian and Pacific American, Native American, and poor white communities. As such, according to Pulido (1996a), it is a multiracial movement which is organizing around locally unwanted land uses (LULUs) such as waste facility siting, transfer storage and disposal facilities (TSDFs), and other issues such as lead contamination, pesticides, water and air pollution , workplace safety, and transportation. More recently, issues such as sprawl and smart growth (Bullard et al. 2000), sustainability (Agyeman et al. 2003), and climate change (International Climate Justice Network 2002; Congressional Black Caucus Foundation 2004) have become targets for the environmental justice critique. The movement’s base, like that of the sustainability movement, has many foundations. According to Cole and Foster (2001), these are the civil rights movement, the antitoxics movement, academia, Native American struggles, the labor movement, and the traditional environmental movement.3 They call the environmental justice movement “a movement Environmental Justice | 15 based on environmental issues but situated within the history of movements for social justice” (31). Faber (1998:1) calls it “a new wave of grassroots environmentalism,” and Anthony (1998:ix) calls it “the most striking thing to emerge in the U.S. environmental movement.” Whether it developed in the environmental movement or from the civil rights movement (or both) is perhaps...


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