Despite a seven-year campaign for "environmental justice," the likelihood is greater than ever that nonwhite and Hispanic Americans live as neighbors of commercial hazardous waste facilities, says a report by social activists
But the study found no villains. Instead, it cited "the intractable nature of environmental injustice." And it suggested that the situation results from population shifts or from an attempt to halt the dumping of toxic wastes in community landfills, leading to creation of facilities to receive hazardous materials.The report was issued Wednesday by three organizations - the Center for Policy Alternatives, which works with community activists and policymakers in the states; the Commission for Racial Justice, an arm of the United Church of Christ, which first called attention to the situation in a 1987 report; and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, whose recently ousted director, Benjamin Chavis Jr., was one of the first to campaign against "environmental racism."
In a comment, the Environmental Protection Agency said it has given the issue of "environmental justice" top priority and has joined with other agencies "to try to reverse the growing numbers of people of color who are disproportionately threatened by pollution."
In February, President Clinton gave federal agencies one year to come up with plans to shield minorities from a disproportionately large exposure to pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency created an Office of Environmental Justice to help agencies comply.
"All Americans have a right to be protected from pollution, not just those who can afford to live in the cleanest, safest communities," Clinton said at the time.