In this seminar we will explore the intersection of social justice and environmental protection. The environmental justice movement coalesced in the early 1980's around allegations that facilities posing environmental risks were disproportionately located in poor communities and communities of color. The movement gained national attention when the United States General Accounting Office and the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice released studies showing a correlation between hazardous waste sites, people of color, and the poor. The Church of Christ study found that race was the most significant factor in predicting the location of a commercial hazardous waste facility; the next most significant factor was income. Controversy--and criticism of the studies--ensued. From these beginnings, we will discuss both the theoretical and practical questions surrounding environmental justice. What types of justice are sought and how can they be measured? How does the environmental justice approach differ from the approach taken by the "traditional" environmental movement? What kinds of strategies and tools (both legal and non-legal) have been employed, and have they been successful? How have federal and state governments responded to environmental justice concerns?Finally, we will consider how the principles of environmental justice have been applied to the pressing issue of climate change.
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