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Environmental Justice: Process and Inequality. Charlie Lord BC Law School Environmental Studies Program Boston College. EJ Theory Suggests Communities of Color have: . More environmental disamenities Fewer environmental amenities Less access to decision-making processes.

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Environmental justice process and inequality

Environmental Justice: Process and Inequality

Charlie Lord

BC Law School

Environmental Studies Program

Boston College

Ej theory suggests communities of color have
EJ Theory Suggests Communities of Color have:

  • More environmental disamenities

  • Fewer environmental amenities

  • Less access to decision-making processes

How has the environmental injustice case been presented

How has the environmental injustice case been presented?

Examination of patterns of amenities/disamenities

Ma study by faber kreig
MA Study by Faber & Kreig

  • Minority communities average more than 4 x’s the number of hazardous waste sites

  • Minority communities exposed to nearly 5 x’s as many lbs. of chemicals

Ma study by faber and kreig
MA Study by Faber and Kreig

  • Low income communities exposed to nearly 7 x’s as many lbs. of chemicals

  • Low income communities average nearly 2.5 x’s more waste sites and 4 x’s as many waste sites per square mile

National data
National Data

  • Robert Bullard Study: 2008

    • 2000 Census Data

      • Over 9 million people live within 3 Km of a commercial waste facility

        • These neighborhoods are 56% people of color

        • Non-host communities are 30% people of color

        • Percentage comparisons:

          • African American 1.8 times greater

          • Hispanic/Latino 2.3 times greater

          • Asian/Pacific Islander 1.8 times greater

National data1
National Data

  • Metropolitan Issue

    • Host areas are densely populated

      • 870 people/sq. km

    • 83% of sites are in metro areas (343 sites)

  • Socio-economic disparities

    • Poverty rates 1.5x higher in host areas

    • Mean household income is 15% lower

Methodology critiques
Methodology Critiques

  • Definition of minority

  • Unit of analysis

  • Summary: General pattern of distributional inequity

Regulatory salience critique
Regulatory Salience Critique

  • Distributive injustice alone: Not a concern

    • Absent evidence of discrimination or procedural bias

  • Post-siting market dynamics

    • Which came first: The hazard or the distribution?

  • Community Preference

    • Blais: Market in preferences works well enough to conclude that, overall, disparities are generally justified by differing preferences.

Legal and political implications
Legal and Political Implications

  • Political Force

    • “Racism”: Contemporary moral strength

    • Connection to structural repression

  • Constitutional Analysis

    • Narrower

      • Purposeful conduct

      • Consciousness of race as motivating factor

      • Individual actor


  • Market critique

    • Cole and Foster

      • Accept the critique

    • Response: structural racism

      • Economic and social factors

        • Segregation in housing

        • Lack of political power

      • Distributive outcomes are unjust

  • Community Preferences

    • Kaswan

    • Similarly: Structural racism suggests community preferences are not met


  • Legal and political force measured by:

    • Distance from Individual Actor

    • Distance from race as decisional factor

      • Or at least consciousness of race as motivating factor

What s different about our study

What’s Different About Our Study?

Outcome equity vs. Process equity

Process equity analysis
Process-Equity Analysis

  • Focuses on processes that create outcome inequity

    • Especially evidence of race as a known causal factor

  • Examples: hazardous waste facility/incinerator siting, court decisions, zoning maps and decisions

Our hypothesis
Our Hypothesis

  • Land use processes over time situate disproportionate amount of disamenities in low income/minority communities

  • Race was a motivating factor

How are we testing this hypothesis
How are we testing this hypothesis?

  • Step 1: Gather data re “noxious use” decisions

  • Step 2: Overlay locations with race/income data

  • Step 3: Determine if patterns of inequity exist

  • Step 4: If yes, review and analyze decisional record


  • Determines where certain uses can occur

  • Allocation of Land Uses

    • As of right

    • Conditional Use

Research plan
Research Plan

  • Zoning Maps

  • Conditional Use Decisions

    • 1931-1971(Presumptive right)

      • City Council

    • 1971 to present (Specified as of right/conditional)

      • City Council

      • Zoning Board of Appeals

What data have we found
What data have we found?

  • Zoning Board of Appeals Decisions

  • City Council records

  • Scale

    • Reviewed every decision 1931-present (10,000)

    • Pulled 3000 decisions for review

    • Entered 1000 records relevant to environmental disamenities

How did we categorize data
How did we categorize data?

  • Incinerators

  • Recycling facilities

  • Penal/correctional facilities

  • Garage/open parking lot

  • 100+ housing unit

  • Other uses with environmental impacts

Example of zba spreadsheet
Example of ZBA Spreadsheet

Docket # Year Code Use/Disamenity Location Decision

6-60 1960 6 slaughter house 1242 Hargest Lane App.

475-89 1989 2 waste recycling plant 500 Chemical Rd App.

182-90 1990 2 landfill 3115 ft. w. of App.

Patapsco Ave. on Baltin

277-91 1991 1 incinerator 3204-3214 Hawkins Pt. Rd. Disapp.

113-93 1993 4 auto repair shop 3146-3158 Wilkens Ave. Disapp.

Example of ordinance spreadsheet
Example of Ordinance Spreadsheet

  • NumberYearCodeDisamenity Location

  • 128 1940 6 Oil Storage Tank for Power Plant 2101-2121 Kloman St.

  • 1952 6 Smelting Plant N. side of Open St. up to Marely Neck Branch

  • 779 1957 2 Scrap iron and metals 1510 Aspen St.

  • 1099 1971 1 Incinerator Pulaski Highway, Reedbird Ave.

  • 304 1998 4 Open Area Parking Lot 1205 Bank St.

Data analysis
Data Analysis

  • Map and analyze records in relation to race and income

    • Overlay to demographic data

    • Evaluate change in spatial patterns over time

    • Review and analyze decisional record

  • Map and analyze records in relation to Redlining Data

Redlining data
Redlining Data

  • Home Owners Loan Association

  • Security Grade by Neighborhood

    • High, Still Desirable, Declining, Hazardous

  • Criteria

    • Occupations of Residents

    • Average annual income

    • Nationality

    • Percentage of “negro” families

    • Threat of Infiltration

      • “negro, foreign born, lower-grade populations”

    • Encroachment of Industrial Zone

  • Baltimore Reports

    • Race and Industrial Character

Redlining data implications
Redlining Data Implications

  • Regulatory Salience Critique

    • Approval of Conditional Use

      • Nature of proposed site

      • Nature of surrounding area

        • Extent to which proposed use might impair present and future development

      • Proximity of dwellings, churches, schools

  • Does Redlining Import Race as a Decisional Factor?

Next steps evaluate the market critique
Next Steps: Evaluate the Market Critique

  • Longitudinal analysis

    • Variances and Demographics

      • By Decade

        • Demographics inside impact zones and as compared to control areas or city as a whole

        • Demographics in zones around approved versus disapproved variances

      • Connections to decisional record

    • Redlining Analysis

      • Correlations between redlining zones and variances

      • Review of decisional records