Environmental Justice: Merging Environmental Law and Ethics - NR&E | Winter 2011
Race and socioeconomic status play a large role in the environmental health of communities throughout the nation. Federal, state, and local environmental justice initiatives attempt to address the disproportionate share of environmental hazards placed on minority and low-income communities. Because the merger of ethics and environmental law forms the foundation of environmental justice, successful implementation of these initiatives requires the consideration of many ethical concerns. This article explores the complicated issues that must be considered by regulatory agencies involved in environmental justice projects, including who should bear the burden of environmental hazards, how the burdened community should participate in the environmental decision-making process, and when and how enforcement of environmental laws should be undertaken. In addition, the article discusses various statutes, regulations, and polices that are currently in place to assist regulatory agencies in achieving the ethical implementation of environmental laws.