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Chpt 1: Environmental Justice.doc

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Andre Sorensen

GGRA03: Environmental Justice in Cities  Inequitable environmental burden placed on social groups such as “visible minorities”, women and low-income citizens  Argument that ethnicity and social class are factors in where toxic sites are located in both cities and rural areas  Concern about achieving justice for people negatively affected by environmental problems due to their social status.  “Race and ethnicity [and class] intertwine with issues of power and access to power to produce an uneven experience of environmental quality”  Spatialization of ethnicity and income:  Poor and ethnic communities located in less desirable areas  Affluent citizens have influential power  Planners usually analyze the demographic characteristics of an area before placing a building or place there  Placing a garbage dump near an area with a lot of intellectual citizens could cause a revolt among those citizens  Concerns about need for environmental justice around race and class began in the United States in the 1980’s.  Warren County land fill dispute (caused by African-American revolt to idea of dumping toxic waste in Warren County, a region known for its high African-American population)  Commission for Racial Justice:  1987: “Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States”  The term environmental racism was coined in order to refer to intentional selection of racialized communities for location of waste disposal sites  Focus on social side of environmental problems  Focus on human rights in relation to the natural environment  Public debate about LULUs – Locally Unwanted Land Uses  Location of waste disposal sites constrained by NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) efforts of certain communities.  Love Canal, New York  “one of the most appalling tragedies in American history”  1892: construction of canal for shipping  1920s: canal became municipal waste dump  1947: canal purchased by Hooker Chemical Company for chemical disposal  1953: site covered and sold to the City of Niagara Falls.  Expansion of Niagara Falls, N.Y. population  Homes and schools built on site  Low-income community  1978: awareness about buried chemicals  Citizen movement to expose public health problems: miscarriages and birth defects  Exposure to carcinogens: benzene  Forced evacuation of Love Canal site  Political response by United States federal government to issues and contexts of environmental injustice  “Superfund Law”: (1980) holds polluters accountable and forces compensation for toxic clean up
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