A discussion of environmental justice begins with the question, "why are the burdens of environmental decisions disproportionately imposed upon those who by virtue of diminished economic and political power are least able have a voice in those decisions and least able to resist or object to their consequences?"
The underlying premise of EJ is that there are deeply rooted inequities in our society, both political, economic and racial, and that government as well as private entities make decisions without regard to the adverse environmental impact that those decisions have upon the health and safety of others. Those citizens who shoulder that impact have neither the economic nor political power to influence these decisions.
The purpose of this course is to develop an understanding of how political and economic power is used to impose inequitably the environmental burdens upon the less powerful to satisfy the needs of more powerful. The decision-making ranges from the siting and zoning for factories, power generating plants and waste disposal plants as well as decisions about the treatment and delivery of water.
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