Foreman, Christopher H., Jr., The Promise and Peril of Environmental Justice

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Foreman, Christopher H., Jr. The Promise and Peril of Environmental Justice. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1998.

In the first book-length critique of environmental justice advocacy in the United States, Christopher Foreman argues that it has cleared significant political hurdles but displays substantial limitations and drawbacks. Activism has yielded a presidential executive order, management reforms at the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous local political victories. Yet, according to Foreman, the environmental justice movement is structurally and ideologically unable to generate a focused policy agenda. The movement refuses to confront the need for environmental priorities and trade-offs, politically inconvenient facts about environmental health risks, and the limits of an environmental approach to social justice. Ironically, environmental justice advocacy may also threaten the very constituencies it aspires to serve--distracting attention from the many significant health hazards challenging minority and disadvantaged populations. Foreman recommends specific institutional reforms intended to recast the national dialogue about the stakes of these populations in environmental protection. — Brookings Institution Press website. http://www.brookings.edu/research/books/1998/promise.

Christopher H. Foreman Jr. is a senior fellow in the Governmental Studies program at the Brookings Institution.