There’s No Justice in EPA’s Environmental Justice Policy


EPA's environmental justice policy is based on the premise that intentional or institutional racism has resulted in siting of industrial facilities and environmental hazards in low-income and minority communities. In the spring of 1998, EPA issued an Interim Guidance for investigating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ensure that the issuance of pollution control permits does not negatively impact low-income and minority communities. While there is no doubt that racism exists and evidence suggests a significant percentage of industrial facilities in low-income neighborhoods, this article will discuss cases lacking evidence that “environmental racism” is responsible. These cases, severely impeded by EPA's policy, have evoked strong responses by environmental activists, citizens, civil right activists, corporate officials and state agencies with a large percentage of them in opposition to the policy. One group in opposition to the policy, The Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), which represents forty-nine of the fifty state environmental agencies, passed a resolution calling on EPA to withdraw the guidance because it would impose burdens on state agencies and hinder the operation of environmental permitting programs. All parties are seeking to determine if there is justice in EPA's environmental justice policy.


Environmental Justice Policy

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Corporate Environmental Strategy

Publication Information

6 Corporate Environmental Strategy 183 (1999)

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COinS Jonathan H. Adler Faculty Bio