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‘Killing yourself is no way to make a living’

‘Killing yourself is no way to make a living’

environmental justice in the United States

Chapter:
(p.65) FOUR ‘Killing yourself is no way to make a living’
Source:
Achieving environmental justice
Author(s):
Karen Bell
Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447305941.003.0004

No discussion of how to achieve environmental justice would be complete without reference to the United States, the birthplace of the concept and what has become known as the ‘environmental justice movement’. This chapter critically assesses the state of environmental justice in the United States, drawing on the relevant literature as well as the authors own observations and a number of semi-structured interviews carried out between 2008 and 2012. The US is typologised here as the most capitalist of the seven case-study countries examined in this book, primarily because it has no recent experience of extensive public ownership of the means of production. The chapter outlines how the country is weak on substantive, distributive, procedural intergenerational, inter-species and international aspects of environmental justice. The main issues are excessive use of resources and production of waste; high levels of environmental inequities, based on pronounced social inequalities; and inadequate procedural justice frameworks and policies, which have often focused more on managing and controlling communities than on empowering them.

Keywords:   United States, environmental justice movement, National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, Mohawk Traditional Council, Black civil rights movement, Environmental Protection Agency, Executive Order No. 12898

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