Page 384 Environmental Justice: Legal Theory and Practice, 4th Edition
inequity.2 ree months later, he told the National Minority Environmental Career Conference at How-
Participants in the January 1990 University of M ichigan Conference on Ra ce and the Incidence of Envi ron-
mental Haza rds conducted an intensive review of e nvironmental ri sk from a socioeconomic perspective. is
review pointed out signica ntly disproportionate hea lth impacts on minorities due to higher rate s of exposure
Profs. Bunyan Bryant and Paul Mohai have written that Administrator Reilly’s statement was “the rst
public recognition by EPA that environmental hazards disproportionately impact people of color.”4 us,
under t he leadership of Administrator Reil ly, the executive branch had become a welcome and willing
participant in the dialogue on environmental justice.
In July 1990, as a direct result of the Michigan conference, Administrator Reilly formed EPA’s Environ-
mental Equity Workgroup to examine, among other things, three questions: (1)How is environmental risk
distributed across population groups?; (2)How have EPA programs addressed dierential risks in the past?;
and (3)How can we do so in the future?5 Administrator Reilly established the Workgroup “to review the evi-
dence that racial minority and low-income communities bear a disproportionate environmental risk burden.”6
What followed was a steady stream of EPA publications on the issue of environmental justice. e
March/April 1992 issue of the EPA Journal, entitled Environmental Protection—Has It Been Fair?, was a
landmark, presenting for the rst time a range of views on the subject. In addition to an article by Admin-
istrator Reilly, the EPA Journal included: (1)articles by academics such as Professors Bryant and Mohai,
who had convened the Michigan conference, a nd Professor Robert D. Bullard, the universally recognized
theoretician of the environmental justice movement; (2)a rticles by environmentalists such as John H.
Adams, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Deeohn Ferris, at the time direc-
tor of environmental quality for the National Wildlife Federation; (3)an article by Rep. Ronald V. Dellums
(D-Cal.); (4)articles by activists such as Norris McDonald, then-president of the Center for Environment,
Commerce, and Energy, and Dorceta Taylor, who had written extensively on the environmental justice
movement; and (5)art icles by toxicologist Ken Sexton, director of EPA’s Oce of Health Research, and
researchers at the Agency for Toxic Substances a nd Disease Registry such as Cynthia H. Harris, chief of
the Community Health Branch, and Robert C . Williams, d irector of Health Assessment. at edition of
the EPA Journal demonstrated that the issue of environmental justice nally resonated with a myriad of
individuals, both inside and outside of government.
Ferris’ article, A Challenge to EPA—An Environmental Justice Oce Is Needed, argued that a funda-
mental change was necessary, and that EPA “must revise its policies in the interest of protecting everyone’s
quality of life.”7 Specically, she stated:
EPA can develop a model program and t he ti me for action is now. e rst step i s to establish a high-level
Oce of Environmental Justice w ith funct ional responsibilities a nd the budget sucient to implement them.
EPA spending should match its commitment to parit y.
As a principal objective, this oce could develop an environmental policy that creates a presumption of justice
by requiring equity impact analyses as part of the process for promulgating major regulations, issuing key poli-
cies, and conducting progra mmatic reviews.
e Oce of Environmental Justice would integrate its t heme into EPA’s operating g uidance and strategic
plans, a s well as t he Age ncy’s resea rch and data c ollection agendas. e oce could spearhead format ion of
consortiums with ac ademic institutions for people of color, including Historica lly Black Colleges and Univer-
sities (HBCUs), focusing on risk asse ssments, research and development needs.8
2. William K. Reilly, Environmental Equity: EPA’s Position—Protection Should Be Applied Fairly in Environmental Protection—Has It Been Fair?,
EPA J., Mar./Apr. 1992, at 18-19.
3. Bunyan Bryant & Paul Mohai, e Michigan Conference: A Turning Point, EPA J., Mar./Apr. 1992, at 9.
7. Deeohn Ferris, A Challenge to EPA: An Environmental Justice Oce Is Needed, EPA J., Mar./Apr 1992, at 28.
8. Id. at 28-29.