Assignment 12: Environmental Justice
Read the introduction to the problem of environmental justice on page 306, and Robert Bullard, “Overcoming Racism in Environmental Decision Making,” p. 315.
A major problem in our country is the fact that hazardous facilities are often sited, or built, in poor communities of color. Poor people of color tend to bear an unfair burden from hazardous facilities, and these people suffer the consequences, like cancer and other diseases. Is this unfairness the result of racism or the fact that these communities are poor and can’t fight big corporations, or both? What should we do about it?
(I have written on the issue of Environmental justice. If you want, you can see the abstract of one paper that I wrote here with Kristin Shrader-Frechette. Our textbook cites another paper in which I was the main author: See the citation for Wigley on page 366. But this is not part of the assignment.)
Question 1: Bullard explains that unequal environmental protection undermines three kinds of equity, (1) procedural, (2) geographic, and (3) social. In separate paragraphs, and using examples, please explain each kind of equity.
Question 2: Bullard proposes five principles of environmental justice. In separate paragraphs, please explain what each of these principles are about, and you can give examples of what has or has not been done to implement each of them.
Question 3: Explain what you think about the issue of environmental justice and Bullard’s ideas. Are his ideas and principles good or not? Which ones are best? Worst? Explain. In your answer, consider this objection to Bullard: This isn’t about racism at all. It is about economic class inequalities — in other words, it’s just all about how poor people suffer these injustices, not racism. Is this a good objection to Bullard?
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