David
E.
Camacho
INTRODUCTION
In
1987,
the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Ju
published the most widely recognized study of race and the i
dence of environmental hazards in the United States. Nine y
after the first complaint of "environmental racism" was raised,
can Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, and Lat
are even more likely to find themselves neighbors of comme
hazardous waste facilities. Moreover, local government officials
sistently allow for the location of hazardous and toxic waste facil
in low-income neighborhoods and communities. Consequen
low-income groups
as well as people of color suffer disproport
ately from the regressive impacts of environmental policy. Furt
the average fine for violations of federal hazardous waste and
vironmental statutes in these communities has been found to
significantly lower than those imposed for violations in largely w
neighborhoods. These policy practices are due, in large part, to
persistent underrepresentation of people of color in the policym
ing process and to the lack of public advocates who represent l
income neighborhoods and communities.
An unprecedented period in the history of environmentalism
the United States is upon us as low-income groups, members of
working class, and people of color steadily form an active and vis
presence in local environmental activities. These groups are em
ing as a movement for environmental justice and are providing
leadership for environmental activism in communities that have
torically been neglected by environmental politics. Environme
concerns of the past-preservation and conservation-are being s
plemented by struggles for participatory democracy. Much of
success of the environmental justice movement has come from
intersection
of race, gender, and class groupings. This socially in
sive, multiracial coalition connects environmental issues with th
of racial and gender inequality, lack of health care and social servi
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