Environmental Justice, Indigenous Rights, Public Participation, Distribution, Recognition, and Radioactive Waste Disposal


In this article I analyze American Indian claims made during the siting process for a high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. By utilizing the concepts of distribution and recognition (Fraser 2003) to analyze American Indian claims for financial compensation, cultural artifact/resource protection, and environmental justice I reveal the existence and extent of both objective and intersubjective obstacles preventing greater public participation in environmental decision-making. Through a textual/discourse analysis of public documents associated with the Yucca Mountain Project, my analysis demonstrates how distributive and recognitional injustices impede democratic participation in environmental decision-making, which contributes to the continuation of environmental inequality formation processes and environmental racism. Identifying the obstacles preventing greater democratic participation in cases such as the Yucca Mountain Project creates a starting point for theorizing and researching the applicability of “participatory action research” methods to complex decisions regarding technology and the environment.