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Working Paper 11


Across the United States, the concept of environmental justice has been gaining ground. Initially defined in the negative – a reduction in the disproportionate exposure of minority residents to various hazards – environmental justice advocates often took as a first task raising awareness of environmental disparities both nationally and locally. In this effort, activists have had success at changing policies as well as projects. In 1994, for example, President Clinton acknowledged the issue in a Presidential Executive Order directing all federal agencies to take into account the potentially disproportionate burdens on U.S. minority communities of pollution or hazard siting. In 1998, the Southern California Air Quality Management District created a local Task Force on Environmental Justice, partly in response to a lawsuit filed by community advocates who contended that the District’s permit trading system was leading to “hot spots” in minority neighborhoods.


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