Communities frequently raise environmental justice issues when decisions are made without taking into consideration how people, including people living in low-income and minority communities, are linked to their surrounding environment. Different communities use and relate to their environment in different ways and face different levels of environmental harms and risks. Thus, to avoid disproportionate impacts, it is critical that each community’s environmental needs and vulnerabilities be understood and considered before decisions are made. Existing statutory authority provides ample opportunity for decisionmakers to involve communities in the decisionmaking process and to consider how they use and relate to their environment and the natural resources services that their environment provides. This article analyzes the integration of environmental justice concerns into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decisionmaking process with special attention given to permits issued under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. In addition, through case study analysis, the article examines how environmental justice issues have been addressed by: EPA in the establishment of water quality criteria under the Clean Water Act; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s and the Department of the Interior’s application of the National Environmental Policy Act; and the Army Corps of Engineers’ decisionmaking process under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Barry E. Hill & Nicholas Targ,
The Link Between Protecting Natural Resources and the Issue of Environmental Justice,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.