Risk Assessment or Risk Acceptance: An Activist's Perspective on Why the EPA's Attempts to Achieve Environmental Justice Have Failed and What They Can Do About It
AbstractThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with safeguarding the well-being of environmental justice (EJ) communities. Sadly, EJ communities are often burdened with gathering their own evidence of harm to prompt regulators to action. This article provides a case study of how one grassroots organization, Citizens for Environmental Justice, uncovered evidence of public health problems that are linked to living near heavy industry in Corpus Christi, Texas. It demonstrates that even when dedicated citizen activism produces strong evidence of harm, regulators are often slow or unwilling to act. We conclude by arguing that the use of risk assessment to establish harm can provide a shield to delay regulatory action and protect industry at the expense of EJ communities.