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50 three Pollution or Poverty The Dilemma of Industry in Appalachia nancy irwin maxwell Di s c u s s i o n s a b o u t e n v i r o n m e n t a l j u s t i c e i n Appalachia often focus on resource extraction, in particular coal mining and its legacy of contamination. However, there is general consensus among those who study Appalachia that residents of the region bear substantial environmental burdens beyond those associated with coal mining, including heavy industry and waste management. To date, little quantitative analysis has contributed to discussions about disproportionate impacts from industry in Appalachia. Advocates for environmental justice seek to eliminate disparities in exposures , and thus the first step is to identify where these disparities exist. This is generally accomplished by comparing exposures and outcomes between populations , such as those people who live in Appalachia and those who do not. While this type of comparison is one focus here, this chapter also contributes to the discussion of environmental injustice within Appalachia. This is accomplished by exploring connections between socioeconomic measures,on the one hand, and markers of industrial pollution or its estimated health impacts, on the other. Further, this work broadens the discussion of environmental injustice by incorporating information on overall mortality,as the most basic indicator of population health. In so doing, this work lays the foundation for future study of relationships between environmental factors and health inAppalachia. The Dilemma of Industry in Appalachia 51 The conclusions below are drawn from an analysis of a data set that includes ten-year-old census data. As most readers know, there have been significant changes in the U.S. economy since 2000. Unemployment has climbed, along with poverty rates, and manufacturing and industrial jobs continue to decline. Though 2010 census data are not yet available, it seems likely that the trends uncovered in this analysis have become more pronounced for people living in Appalachia, where poverty and unemployment rates have reached unprecedented levels. Like any analysis that rests on data for places and populations rather than individual people, this one is fundamentally descriptive, and even exploratory . As such, it does not attempt to document cause-and-effect relationships . The analytic approach is not “let’s formulate a hypothesis and then test it,” but rather “let’s see what the data can tell us.” The result is a detailed portrait of a region, its population, and its environment that can be a starting point for further discussion about environmental justice related to industry. The Appalachian Context A large array of publicly available information was compiled into a coherent data set for 3,144 counties of the United States, including the District of Columbia and a number of independent cities that are treated as counties . With this data set in hand, it was possible to undertake a unified set of analyses that spanned a range of topic areas including environmental and health disparities. Most of the discussion that follows focuses on describing the counties in the Appalachian region (AR), which straddles thirteen states and comprises 413 counties plus eight independent cities in Virginia.1 In order to examine social patterns in the burden of industrial pollution within the Appalachian region, it is useful to consider how the region has been described by the institutions and organizations most involved in addressing its concerns. Several groupings of AR counties have been put forward by scholars of Appalachia, some defining geographically contiguous subregions and others classifying counties without regard to contiguity. Figure 3.1 classifies the region according to categories developed in 1975, ten years after the Appalachian region was created. In a system that is still in use today, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) classified the region’s counties into three geographic subregions for purposes of development planning—the Northern, Central, and Southern subregions. Nancy Irwin Maxwell 52 Taking a different approach, John Alexander Williams relied on environmental and social history to define a core region of 165 Appalachian counties.2 In Williams’s anthropological categorization, the core region comprises the Allegheny/Cumberland,GreatValley,and Blue Ridge subregions (see fig.3.2). In this map, the Great Valley and Blue Ridge subregions in particular reflect prominent topographic features. AnothercategorizationisbasedonarecentanalysisbytheU.S.Population Reference Bureau, which assessed five subregion classifications, including the figure 3.1. The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) 1975 classification of the Appalachian region’s counties into three geographic subregions for purposes of development planning The...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780821444283
Related ISBN
9780821419809
MARC Record
OCLC
774956303
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-11
Language
English
Open Access
No
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