Date of Award



Edward Van Buren


Environmental racism and environmental justice are relatively new terms used to describe inequalities that have existed for centuries. Environmental racism is a pervasive problem that can be identified in many countries, even the world’s leading nations. The acknowledgement of the prejudice began with the Civil Rights Movement. Greater attention to equality caused citizens and policy makers to consider the relationship between human rights and environmental rights. The Environmental Protection Agency formulated a definition of environmental justice that states, “no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies”. Environmental justice requires long-term policy creation and will not respond to short-term measures. Another, perhaps more useful, definition states, “environmental justice are those cultural norms and values, rules, regulations, behaviors policies, and decisions that support sustainable development, so that people can interact with confidence that their environment is safe, nurturing, and productive”. This moves beyond the basic numerical evaluations of the previous definition and considers the impact on the human communities. Consideration of the human being in relation to the environment and survival must include culture and society as well as more concrete features. The term environmental racism is used to describe injustices committed in relation to the environment because of race. Environmental inequalities due to race require political attention and policy measures. Communities that receive unfair environmental consequences due to their race or economic status deserve legal attention to prevent future issues.