FOR ECOLOGICAL ECONOMISTS CONFERENCE
"BEYOND GROWTH: THE POLICIES AND INSTITUTIONS FOR SUSTAINABILITY"SANTIAGO, CHILE
November 15-19, 1998
Panel: "Institutional Implications of Environmental and Economic Justice: Race, Gender and Class"
Principles and patterns of economic progress and well-being are undergoing unprecedented changes owing to the infusion of sustainability and ecological economics philosophies. Consequently, institutions are beginning to look at novel and inclusive approaches to solve emerging environmental and economic concerns. One such issue, requiring consideration and integration of interdisciplinary principles, is "Environmental Justice" (EJ). EJ, a prerequisite to sustainable communities, has largely escaped treatment by mainstream and ecological economists.
"Intra- and inter-generational," "spatial," and "temporal" issues, analyzed under the penumbra of "efficiency and equity" parameters, form the essence of EJ. The framework facilitates inquiry into underlying assumptions and outcomes of economic activities and environmental policymaking. EJ analysis, grounded in "distributive justice" concepts, permits examination of nature and patterns dispersion of benefits and burdens ensuing from economic and environmental policies, based on race, gender, and class.
The primary purpose of the panel, comprised of EJ scholars and analysts, is to promote extensive debate and research in this general area. Issues to be addressed:
- EJ framework implications and demands on institutional setting.
- Economic theory and institutional context essential to examine and explain EJ issues.
- Empirical methodologies and findings of environmental injustice patterns.
- Policy prescriptions implemented and under consideration to guarantee "environmental rights" regardless of race, gender or class.
The Economics of Environmental Justice: Race, Gender, Class and Institutional Issues
Dhananjaya M. Arekere
Graduate Student (Ph.D.) Department of Agricultural Economics
Research Assistant Race & Ethnic Studies Institute
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-4351
Dr. Mitchell F. Rice
Professor Bush School of Government & Public Service
Director Race & Ethnic Studies Institute
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4351
Distributional inequities of environmental benefits and costs have contributed to the poor and racial minorities experiencing net welfare losses. These issues are examined in an economic context to bridge the gap between economic, environmental and justice concepts. A Political Economy framework, utilizing Rent Seeking Theory, is developed to identify and account for group interactions, primarily two minority and majority, in environmental policy making. Further, an attempt is made to examine some of the economic parameters influencing minority representation, or lack thereof, in environmental policymaking. Other issues addressed are:i. Political and environmental interest groups, and racial minority and low-income groups' participation.
ii. Similarities and dissimilarities between majority and minority environmental concerns and their influence on policymaking.
iii. Environmental policy making and impacts on people of color and low-income populations.
iv. Resource scarcity and conservation issues minority and poor communities' economic development.
v. Impact of resource endowments, and use and allocation decisions on racial minorities and the poor.
vi. Environmental degradation and scarcity influences on poverty and inter- and intra-group conflicts.
The theoretical model allows the formulation of a relevant and consistent framework of analysis that is well grounded in economic theory. Such an exercise not only enables scholars to explore the implications of frontier ideas but also provides much needed direction to gather data to extend and/or modify empirical work. Further, it will contribute significant information to scholars and policymakers seeking to research problem areas and construct appropriate policies.
Environmental and Economic Justice:
Strategies to Build Healthy and Sustainable Communities
Robert D. Bullard
Director Environmental Justice Resource Center
Atlanta, GA 30314
Environmental justice is defined as 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 socio-economic 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 programs and policies. Over the last decade or so, grassroots activists have attempted to change the way society views community health.
Grassroots groups have also organized, educated, and empowered themselves to improve the way health and environmental policies are administered.
A growing body of evidence reveals that people of color and low-income persons have borne greater environmental and health risks than the society at large in their neighborhoods, workplace, and playgrounds. Children are at special risk from population. A case in point is children under age 18 suffer from asthma. Persons suffering from asthma are particularly sensitive to the effects of indoor air pollution and carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxides, particulate matter, ozone, and nitrogen oxides. Hospitalization and mortality due to asthma exhibit wide racial and class differences.
Asthma is a growing environmental justice, and social equity concern because of its implications and impact on vulnerable populations. Its cumulative impact on these at-risk communities are examined from the stand point of: (1) health vulnerable populations at risk; (2) environment spatial distribution of dirty air; (3) housing indoor air pollution, in-home condition, and residential patterns; (4) education lost school days; (5) economic rising medical costs, lot work days, and lost wages: and (6) civil rights resource allocation and expenditure patterns for research and prevention or
intervention efforts. Inner city children have the highest asthma prevalence, hospitalization, and mortality.
Can Environmental Justice be Achieved Under Market Conditions?
School of Natural Resources & Environment
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1115
The use of energy and its byproducts or pollution in the market system are examined to determine if environmental justice goals are being achieved. Specifically, the beneficiaries of energy use are identified. Efficiency of markets to achieve equitable distribution of energy sources are explored and compared with other institutions. The differential impacts of climate change and the international transport of hazardous waste on people of color, low-income groups, and developing nations are investigated. Additionally, critique of the proposed conceptual market-based instruments and policy prescriptions to remedy environmental injustice is provided. Finally, meaningful and effective alternative strategies to further environmental justice goals are provided.
Understanding the Cause and Effect of Disproportionate Burden of Environmental Hazards in Low-income and People of Color Communities
School of Natural Resources & Environment
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1115
Current research on environmental justice has focused on demonstrating the existence or lack of a disproportionate burden of pollution and locally unwanted land uses in low-income and people of color communities. Very little has been done to examine the causes of these disproportionate spread of negative externalities. There are a number of good reasons to shift our attention to the causes:
- Identifying, articulating, and verifying how disproportionate environmental burdens occur should provide a means of assessing the depth and severity of the problem.
- A better understanding of the causes can aid in the construction of effective and comprehensive solutions and policies.
- An understanding of the underlying variables can shed further light on the "race versus class" debate that has come to confound the issue.
Alternative explanations of the factors leading to the disproportionate distribution of environmental costs are examined. For instance, the lack of adequate representation and participation in the political process leads to vulnerability, i.e., as a target population. Such lopsided burdens can lead to potential social conflicts and unrest. The minimization of such disputes regarding environmental rights and spread of environmental benefits and costs is one of the prerequisites to ensure environmental justice. Additionally, a critique on the various methodological approaches employed are discussed.
The Struggle for Environmental Justice in the Louisiana Chemical Corridor
Director Deep South Center for Environmental Justice
New Orleans, LA
In the 1940's, Louisiana's population shifted to new jobs sites that were created by the influx of oil-based economy. By 1956, 87,200 Louisiana State residents were employed by these petrochemical industries. The primary incentives that motivated industries to relocate or begin production process were, first the Industrial Inducements Program implemented by then governor, John McKeithen, that offered lucrative tax exemptions, and second, the Mississippi River provided easy access to barges and disposal of chemical waste.
By the 1970's, the Louisiana Industrial Corridor along the Mississippi River was producing 60 percent of the nation's vinyl chloride and nitrogen fertilizers, and 26 percent of the chlorine. There was approximately one plant or refinery for every one-half mile along the river. In 1982, the states' petrochemical industry employed 165,000 people and industrial taxes accounted for a third of the State's tax revenues. By 1987, the industrial corridor was emitting 700,000,000 pounds of chemicals into the surrounding air, water and soil. The air, ground and water along the industrial corridor were saturated with high levels of carcinogens. Environmentalists and interest groups mobilized grassroots protest against what they termed, "a massive human experiment."
The 85-mile industrial corridor that produces a fifth of the United States' petrochemicals, transformed one of the poorest, slowest-growing sections of Louisiana into communities of economic prosperity. However, increased incidence of diseases indicated that the trade-off was rather large. The narrow corridor absorbs more toxic substances annually than do most other states. The effects on the environment and on the people who inhabit it are only now being assessed. Some areas, however, have greater toxic emissions and its people bear a greater burden of toxic exposure. This paper will investigate the extent to which discriminatory siting patterns for toxic facilities have resulted in the disproportionate exposure of minority and poor communities to environmental pollution.