Environmental Justice (2001)

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Note from the Editors:

Urban planning encompasses a diversity of subjects. While there may be few ideas that cut through all areas of the field, most of us would place justice and equity among planning's central goals. For this issue of Critical Planning, we solicited articles on environmental justice, a field covering a wide variety of subjects and approaches ranging from the distribution of environmental hazards and benefits to the organization of social movements. The contributions gathered here cover this spectrum of approaches. Some of the articles examine the meaning of environmental justice and the way that the movement has developed. Others provide interesting case studies of environmental justice in action, or investigate where and whether environmental justices can be said to exist.

In the first article, "The Emergence of the Environmental Justice Movement and Its Challenge to Planning", Martha Matsuoka identifies two distinct bodies of environmental justice literature, one that focuses on the distribution of environmental hazards, and a second that discusses the political and social aspects of environmental justice movements. She then traces the historical development of the environmental justice movement in the US, showing how the movement has challenged mainstream environmental organizations and federal agencies to reevaluate their processes of public participation and their definitions of the environment. On her account, the environmental justice movement encourages place-based planning that integrates environmental conservation, cultural preservation and hazardous waste management with provision of housing, jobs and transportation.

While Matsuoka advocates returning to a social movement approach to environmental justice, Enrico A. Marcelli, Grant Power and Mark J. Spaulding, in "Unauthorized Mexican Immigrants and Business-Generated Environmental Hazards In Southern California", investigate whether unauthorized Mexican workers are disproportionately exposed to toxic emissions generated by businesses in Southern California. They find that immigration status is correlated with exposure to environmental hazards.

In Los Angeles, community groups have not only organized against environmental justice, but also have worked for more amenities. In "The Chinatown Cornfields: Including Environmental Benefits in Environmental Justice Struggles", Heather Barnett describes a movement to develop a park and school on a site proposed for a warehouse and light industrial development. She highlights the need to include benefits and amenities in the environmental justice framework. Peter Aeschbacher and Gaby Winqvist introduce the article with a history of the site told through words and maps.

Jaap VosÖs article, "A Community Based Outreach Strategy for Environmental Justice: The COELT Program in Florida", is an evaluation of a program in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties that offers environmental and leadership training to residents in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. This program has successfully raised awareness about environmental issues and increased participation in environmental decision making.

Meg Holden, in "The Great Promise of Urban Environmental Policy", considers environmental and social justice broadly, and challenges us to consider how we can create environmentally ethical societies. She identifies four elements—the use of democratic processes, the integration of scientific and social-humanistic methods, a focus on basic needs in local, lived environments, and an incorporation of historic rural and indigenous knowledge—that are necessary for transformative urban environmental policy that would direct us towards sustainable cities.

In "Are Planners Prepared to Address Social Justice and Distributional Equity?", Thomas Sanchez asks a question that bears on issues of justice. His review of courses offered in accredited graduate planning programs suggests that planning students have little opportunity to learn the methodologies needed to examine distributional equity. Sanchez proposes that planning programs should offer more specific courses on such topics in order to educate planners how to address the inequities that urban residents face.

Finally, Kathleen Lee and Renia Ehrenfeucht interview Laura Pulido, an environmental justice activist and scholar from USC. The conversation covers the nature of the environmental justice movement and Pulido's involvement in it as a scholar and activist.

In the second section, Ruei-Suei Sun reviews two books that critically examine the complicated consequences of globalization: Living the Global City: Globalization as a Local Process, edited by John Eade, and Space, Culture and Power: New Identities in Globalizing Cities, edited by Ayse.

 

Table of Contents:

The Emergence of the Environmental Justice Movement and Its Challenges to Planning (pdf)
Martha Matsuoka

The Origins and Future of the Environmental Justice Movement: A Conversation With Laura Pulido (pdf)
Kathleen Lee and Renia Ehrenfeucht

Unauthorized Mexican Immigrants and Business-Generated Environmental Hazards in Southern California (pdf)
Enrico A. Marcelli, Grant Power and Mark J. Spalding

A Prologue to "The Cornfields" (pdf)
Gaby Winqvist and Peter Aeschbacher

The Chinatown Cornfields: Including Environmental Benefits in Environmental Justice Struggles (pdf)
Heather Barnett

A Community Based Outreach Strategy for Environmental Justice: The COELT Program in Florida (pdf)
Jaap Vos

The Great Promise of Urban Environmental Policy (pdf)
Meg Holden

Are Planners Prepared to Address Social Justice and Distributional Equity? (pdf)
Thomas Sanchez

Introduction to Policy/History Essays (pdf)
Christine Rojas and Donny Le

Book Review: Global Cities Studies (pdf)
Ruei-Suei Sun

Book Review: New Regionalism (pdf)
Dan Chatman