Page 16 Environmental Justice: Legal Theory and Practice, 4th Edition
• Conversely, environmental equity is t he notion that all populations should bear a proportionate
share of environmental pollution and health risks.8 e premise is that environmental benets and
burdens, a nd environmental protection and environmental hazards, should be equally distributed
throughout society. Equity and equality a re closely related. Equity refers to freedom from favoritism
when referring to a system of environmental laws and reg ulations, and the ful llment of standards
regarding environmental health. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has
established standards of acceptable air quality limits under the Clean Air Act. Consequently, the air
quality for all communities should not exceed those standards. Equality, however, refers to the same
treatment of all communities with respect to environmental health. us, all communities, regardless
of race or income, should host the same amount of pollution-generating industries, and, therefore,
their air quality should be equa l.
• Environmental justice encompasses both of the preceding concepts. It has been dened as “[t]he
achievement of equal protection from environmental and hea lth haza rds for all people regardless of
race, income, culture or social class.”9 According to Prof. Bunyan Bryant, environmental justice refers
to those cultural norms and values; rules; regu lations; behaviors; policies; and decisions to support
sustainable communities where people can interact with condence that the environment is safe,
nurturing, and productive. Environmental justice is ser ved when people can realize their highest
potential, where both cultural and biological diversity are respected and high ly revered and where
distributed justice prevails.10
e goal of environmental justice advocates is to reduce pollution as a whole, not to simply relo-
cate it elsewhere. Since environmental justice is based on the premise that it is a basic right of all
Americans to live and work in a clean and healthy environment, it denes the goal to be achieved.
It also is a less restrictive term than environmental racism, since it includes the concepts of eco -
nomic (income and class) prejudices as well as racial prejudices. e term environmental justice
has therefore become the preferred name for the movement that analyzes and tries to counteract
EPA, which has embraced the term environmental justice as a goal to be achieved for all com-
munities, uses an indicator-based approach to screen geographic areas for disproportionate and
adverse environmental risks and to understand the social, economic, health, and environmental
characteristics of a selected area. Figure 1.1 illustrates how EPA uses a robust set of environmental
justice indicators to gain a comprehensive snapshot of a community. e indicators are: (1)envi-
ronmental; (2)health; (3)social; and (4)economic.11 Indicators are data that highlight some aspect
8. E J G, E J: A M P vii (National Conference of State Legislatures 1995).
According to EPA: “[Environmental equity” means “[e]qual protection from environmental hazards for individuals, groups, or communities
regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status.” U.S. E P A (EPA), G E I—
E D 25 E 53 (1995) (EPA 520/B-94-001).
9. Id. According to EPA:
Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or
income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
Fair treatment means that no group of people, including racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic groups, should bear a disproportionate
share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution
of federal, state, local, and tribal environmental programs and policies.
Meaningful involvement means that: (1)potentially aected community residents have an appropriate opportunity to participate
in decisions about a proposed activity that will aect their environment and/or health; (2)the public’s contribution can inuence
the regulatory agency’s decision; (3)the concerns of all participants involved will be considered in the decision-making process; and
(4)the decisionmakers seek out and facilitate the involvement of those potentially aected.
U.S. EPA, T A P A E I (2004) (EPA 300-R-04-002) (emphasis added),
available at http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/policies/ej/ej-toolkit.pdf.
10. B B, ., E J: I, P, S (Island Press 1995).
11. According to EPA:
Examples of environmental indicators include:
• Number of environmentally regulated facilities within a community
• Length of time regulated facilities have operated within a community
• Number of current and past permit exceedances by regulated facilities
• Number or extent of nonpoint sources of pollution.
Examples of health indicators include: