Environmental Justice: An Environmental Civil Rights Value Acceptable to All World Views Troy W. HartleyAmanda AitkenTorin SpencerSydney Jimenez
History of Environmental Justice Movement• Academic and Civil Rights communities started identifying inequities in environmental protection in the 1970’s.• In 1982, in Warren County, North Carolina, a community mobilized in opposition to a proposed landfill for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) contaminated soils.• NC governor selected Afton for the landfill site.
Continued• However, Afton was 84% black, while Warren County was 64% black in a state that was only 24% black.• Afton residents depended on wells for their drinking water and the water table was only 5- 10 feet below ground.• A grass-roots civil rights campaign against the landfill. During nonviolent civil disobedience over 400 people were arrested.
Injustice Study• In 1986, the United Church of Christ sponsored a statistical assessment of the relationship between hazardous location sites and racial/socioeconomic attributes of communities surrounding sites. • The report concluded that race was most significant variable with mean household income being deemed statistically significant.
1980s-1990s• Academic research in the 1980s helped put environmental justice on the political agenda.• A “Conference on Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards” at the University of Michigan was held in January 1990.• The “Michigan Coalition” wrote to several federal agencies and congressmen and called for action on environmental injustices in minority and low-income communities.
EPA/EEW• In July 1990, an Environmental Equity Workgroup was formed to assess problems of environmental injustice and make recommendations based on findings.• In July 1992, the EPA concluded that available data demonstrated disturbing trends.• Recommendations included an increased effort to identify high-risk populations and target activities to reduce their environmental risks.
Continued• Promote the use of equity considerations in the rule-making process.• Improved communication with minority and low-income communities and increased participation in the decision-making processes.• By October 1991, at the first international conference on environmental justice, it was clear environmental justice was squarely on the social and environmental agenda.
Ethical Models and World Views• Environmental justice is a fundamental value that can be found in all environmental world views • Utilitarian Doctrine • Kantian Rights and Obligations • Rawl’s Veil of Ignorance
Utilitarian Doctrine• Actions are morally right if they promote happiness and wrong if they do not.• CONFLICT: when a discriminatory society produces greater net happiness than a nondiscriminatory society.• Compensation idea – Assumption that there is a level of compensation that can be found acceptable to those being exposed to environmental inequality. – Enable justification of unequal distribution of environmental equality. – Environmental justice rejects this.
Kantian Rights• To have moral worth, an action must be performed as a duty even to the detriment of one’s own inclinations.• Moral action should be based on a principle or a moral rule
Formulations to be considered a moral rule1.) for a rule to be a moral law, it must be auniversal law, legislatively valid for everyone.2.) the rule must treat all human beings as anends and never merely as a means to an end.3.) a person must recognize the rule as bindingupon him or her, and thus, the person must act asif he or she is a member of an organized society ofends.
Kantian Obligations• Safe environment for all as a moral law and basic human right.• Based on principles of fairness and justice with a strong emphasis on civil rights and social justice.• Clinton Administration established environmental justice as “a framework of equal justice and equal protection…to ensure every citizen’s right to be free from pollution.• Challenge the Utilitarian view of environmental decision making.
Rawl’s Veil of Ignorance• Tool to reach “reflective equilibrium between theory of justice and intuition• Removes individual’s identity in a situation• Forces people to make unbiased choices• “serves the interests of all segments of society equally”
World Views• “ constellation of beliefs, values, and concepts that give shape and meaning to the world a person experiences and acts within”• The application of ethical principles to the entire world• Ways to apply and express your views in other societies
Norton’s 7 Identified World Views• 1) Judeo-Christian stewardship• 2) deep ecology and related value systems• 3) transformationist/ transcendentalism• 4) constrained economics• 5) scientific naturalism• 6) ecofeminism• 7) pluralism/ pragmatism
Justice• “ An ethical system is inadequate if it cannot demonstrate a moral basis for justice• Kantian Perspective: justice is elemental to a moral community – Most basic of social virtues – Basis for social ethics
Equal Protection ≠ Equal Risk• Laws, themselves contain inherent discrimination – Ex: all communities don’t start from the same standard • Risks are compounded in disadvantaged communities • Environmental protection must be applied unequally to balance the unequal risks