Eliminating "environmental racism" has become one of the premier civil rights and environmental issues of the 1990s. Relying on a handful of studies that purport to show patterns of discrimination against minorities and the poor in the siting of industrial activity, federal and state policymakers have attempted to limit further industrial siting in these areas. These "environmental justice" initiatives appear to be premature, however, in light of the substantial problems in current data documenting the prevalence of discrimination. The article examines one such shortcoming: namely, that existing research fails to account for the dynamic nature of the housing market. Analyzing data from the St. Louis metropolitan area, this study finds that economic factors-not siting discrimination--are behind many claims of environmental racism. This phenomenon suggests the need to develop public policies that fit the economic nature of the problem. In particular, a policy that compensates individuals living near industrial sites is the key to securing environmental justice
Thomas Lambert & Christopher Boerner,
Environmental Inequity: Economic Causes, Economic Solutions,
Yale J. on Reg.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjreg/vol14/iss1/6