The Politics and Reality of Environmental Justice: A History and Considerations for Public Administrators and Policy Makers

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Abstract

This article provides a short history of the environmental justice movement in the United States and discusses four dominant problems in environmental justice discourse. It also will discuss three other aspects of the environmental discourse: weak empirical research; the failure to recognize the distinction between hazard and risk; and the possibility that environmental justice is more about fear, blame, procedural inclusion, and power politics than it is about public health in minority and low–income communities. More rational mechanisms for managing the issue would better serve the ideal of democracy, giving society a better chance of solving public health problems in minority and low–income communities.

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