The primary focus of the term paper is to explore why communities of color and other related politico-social neighborhoods are seemingly fair game for pro-business usage of these lands as toxic dump sites or for other environmentally harmful industries. While it seems logical that political, economic, and cultural forces influence, and at times, inhibit efforts to respond to human environmental crises (Johnston 1995:111), these issues do not justify the deliberate imposition of environmental damage upon unsuspecting citizens or their respective communities. For sure, environmental crimes can be both diverse in nature and in the harm they cause, even to the extent that some victims of environmental crime may be miles removed from the offenders who victimize them (Shover and Routhe 2005:323-24). In sum, discussions pertaining to environmental damage and vulnerable social groups are at best hotly contested and controversial. Time alone will tell what direction or which path environmental justice professionals will take in alleviating the social harms caused by oppressive governmental actions and corporate profiting.
What often complicates legal action concerning environmental harm stems from loaded publications by some academics, like Vicki Been, of the New York University of Law, arguing that studies on locally undesirable land usage, that have been disproportionately sited in poor and minority neighborhoods, are methodologically flawed (Been 1994:1384-86). She asserts that the research fails to prove claims that minority communities bear the brunt of undesirable land usage as a result of racism and classism.
[...] Natural resources are taken for granted and waste additions are minimized, often with the effect of passing on these undesirable outcomes to virtually any group that poses little threat to the wants or needs of this “expansionist” association. In sum, it is the institutional racism and class inequality that puts the most vulnerable groups, such as Native Americans, ethnic and minority groups, and the poor (Hooks and Smith 2004) at a disproportionate risk for environmental abuses. To this end, perhaps the only real recourse of action for these vulnerable populations is to fight back with legal sanctions. [...]
[...] For instance, Professor Been (1994), of the New York University of law, acknowledges that locally undesirable land use (LULU) disproportionately pertains more so to communities of people of color and to those districts poorer than most other neighborhoods. She argues that efforts to address this disparity are hindered by the lack of data of which came first: people of color and poor neighborhoods or the locally undesirable land usage (p. 1406). In other words, Been argues that if the neighborhoods were heavily populated by people of color or were already poor at the time siting decisions were made, then an inference can be made that the siting process held a disproportionate effect upon the ethnic or impoverished neighborhood (pp. [...]
[...] Rainey “Examining Linkages between Race, Environmental Concern, Health, and Justice in a Highly Polluted Community of Color.” Journal of Black Studies 36(4):473-496. Fisher, Michael "Environmental racism claims brought under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act." Environmental Law Review 25:285-334. Hooks, Gregory and Chad L. Smith. Treadmill of Destruction: National Sacrifice Areas and Native Americans.” American Sociological Review 558-575. Harvard Law Review (HLR) “Latent Harms and Risk-Based Damages.” Harvard Law Review 111(6):1505-1522. Johnston, Barbara R “Human Rights and the Environment.” Human Ecology 23(2):111- 123. [...]
[...] Namely, she asserts that the research fails to prove claims that minority communities bear the brunt of undesirable land usage as a result of racism and classism. As it stands, criminal prosecution and civil settlements relating to environmental offenses are difficult to champion. Moreover, environmental laws vary from state-to-state, with the legal minimums for protection standards set by federal laws and regulations (Burns, Lynch, and Stretsky 2008:97). Thus, most states assign a regulatory agency whose primary task lies in responding to environmental crime and harms. [...]
[...] Thus, both sides of the undesirable land use issue need to carefully sort through the interaction between race, class, and demographic trends (Krieg 1998:29) before forming definitive conclusions about their findings. Environmental Health Disparities and Other Health Conscious Green Based Issues Today's world stands much different from that of 50 or more years ago. Unlike back then, extant populations are exposed to toxic wastes in some form or another and in some concentration or another on a daily basis. These chemical exposures potentially pose serious health hazards to human health and to ecological systems. [...]
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