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Environmentalism of the Poor and Economic Justice

Environmentalism of the poor, commonly referred to as environmental justice, is the equitable treatment and participation of all people regardless of race or ethnic background pertaining to the development and implementation of environmental laws and regulations. As a program of socioeconomic justice, it considers responses by racial minorities or marginalized people to the degradation of immediate or proximate spaces of habitation, occupation, and/or recreation. With origins in the United States’ 20th-century civil rights movement, it has since emerged as a global concern addressing public health; toxicity; inaccessibility to resources; and the inadequacy of local and national governments to remedy practices such as industrial siting, improper waste disposal, and environmental racism.

Historical Antecedents

While defined by historians as a recent phenomenon, environmental justice has antecedents in the late-18th ...

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