Environmental Justice in America

Environmental Justice in America

A New Paradigm
Edwardo Lao Rhodes
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/15/2005
Format: Paperback 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21774-5
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Edwardo Lao Rhodes examines the issue of environmental justice as a public policy concern and suggests the use of a new methodology in its evaluation. Rather than argue the merits of growth versus environmental protection, he makes the case that race and class were not major concerns of environmental policy until the 1990s. Why this was so, and why awareness of social justice should be an important consideration in thinking about environmental impact, takes up the first part of the book. Part II looks more closely at public policy concerns and discusses the methodological approaches that can illuminate the problem of environmental justice. Rhodes proposes the use of "data envelopment analysis" as a more useful risk-assessment tool than current methodologies. The book’s final section examines the disposal of hazardous material in rural Noxubee County, Mississippi. After acknowledging the difficulties of arriving at an "equitable" solution in this complex case, Rhodes discusses recommendations that might ensure that sharing the burden of risk becomes a fundamental part of environmental policy. Although Environmental Justice in America deals primarily with the United States, it raises issues of international concern: global environmental justice programs, national sovereignty, the paternalism of developed nations toward the underdeveloped world, and questions of economic necessity.

Author Bio

Edwardo Lao Rhodes is Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. He is a former Brookings Institute Economic Policy Fellow and has served in New York City government, the U.S. Navy, the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, and the Office of Environmental Justice in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


“Costs of environmental degradation are borne disproportionately by the poor and the powerless. In an attempt to right this wrong, Edwardo Lao Rhodes examines the issue of environmental justice as a public policy concern. Rhodes explains why awareness of social justice should be an important consideration in thinking about environmental impact. He offers recommendations, derived from a complex case of hazardous waste disposal, for sharing the burden of risk.”

“This book examines environmental justice as a public policy concern and suggests a new methodology for evaluating environmental justice problems. It makes the case that race and class were not a major concern of environmental policy until the 1990s. The author looks at public policy concerns and methodological approaches to the issues, and he discusses a case of hazardous waste disposal, which leads to policy recommendations for sharing risk.”

“In this excellent and balanced examination of the growth and future of the environmental justice movement, Rhodes (Indiana Univ. School of Public and Environmental Affairs) examines the background against which environmental justice issues are viewed. The roots of the environmental movement were in wilderness preservation, and even today, some environmental groups resist concerning themselves with what they regard as social policies and urban problems. Minorities had more pressing priorities. But now, a paradigm shift is occurring and the pivotal pioneering voices, such as Robert Bullard's, are being heard. Diversity in both membership and leadership of environmental groups is slowly increasing. Access to information about toxic waste facilities has improved, while the increase in pollution is now more visible. This book argues that the time has come when all the various factors have reached a critical mass. In the future, agencies must more explicitly address in their policies how actions and decisions about the environment will differentially affect increasingly segmented populations. The myth that minorities do not care about the environment is disappearing as communities become empowered by awareness and inclusion in decision-making processes. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels.July 2003”
 — S. E. Wiegand, Saint Mary's College

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Part I. The Dynamics of Environmental Justice
1. Introduction
2. Forms of Environmental Justice
3. What Has Gone Before: Why Race Was Not on the Original Environmental Agenda
4. The Evolution of Environmental Justice as a Policy Issue: A Movement Whose Time Has Come
5. Misconceptions about Minority Attitudes toward Environmental Issues
6. The EPA: An Agency with an Attitude
Part II. Policy Analysis of Environmental Justice
7. Environmental Justice through the Lens of Policy Analysis: Why Should Government Get Involved?
8. The Measurement of Environmental Justice: Some Rules of Engagement
9. A New Way of Looking at the Same Old Numbers: Using Data Envelopment Analysis to Evaluate Environmental Quality
Part III. A Case, a Summary, and Some Conclusions
10. A Case of Environmental Justice: The Disposal of Hazardous Material in Noxubee County, Mississippi
11. Policy Directions and Recommendations
12. Environmental Justice: A New Paradigm—A Time of Change
Appendix A: Principles of Environmental Justice