Graduate Project

 

Environmental Justice Policies at the State Level: Symbolic Rhetoric or Tangible Impacts? Public Deposited

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https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_projects/k930c420q

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  • President Clinton’s Executive Order 12898 and subsequent federal environmental justice (EJ) policies and programs have faced significant challenges in implementation. Exploring scientific uncertainty, social complexity of EJ issues, lack of clear policy guidance, and weak regulatory enforcement demonstrate these challenges. However, at the state level, EJ policies, task forces, and programs continue to propagate; as “laboratories of democracy” this research identifies how state-level EJ efforts may ( or may not ) more nimbly and democratically achieve EJ goals (Bonorris and Targ, 2010). A content analysis of three states policies and key informant interviews of EJ advocates assessed how EJ Principles incorporated into policy structure, regulatory enforcement, and public participation shape the success of EJ policies. The social construction framework proposes that policy designs usually reproduce existing institutional culture and power relationships. Using social construction and critical race theory, this mixed methods approach illuminates how justice is defined, framed, and mechanized in the policy process. Findings suggest that state policies lack strong enforcement mechanisms, yielding few tangible results, but persistent pressure from EJ advocates as well as subsequent policy iterations continue to improve alignment with the EJ Principles.President Clinton’s Executive Order 12898 and subsequent federal environmental justice (EJ) policies and programs have faced significant challenges in implementation. Exploring scientific uncertainty, social complexity of EJ issues, lack of clear policy guidance, and weak regulatory enforcement demonstrate these challenges. However, at the state level, EJ policies, task forces, and programs continue to propagate; as “laboratories of democracy” this research identifies how state-level EJ efforts may ( or may not ) more nimbly and democratically achieve EJ goals (Bonorris and Targ, 2010). A content analysis of three states policies and key informant interviews of EJ advocates assessed how EJ Principles incorporated into policy structure, regulatory enforcement, and public participation shape the success of EJ policies. The social construction framework proposes that policy designs usually reproduce existing institutional culture and power relationships. Using social construction and critical race theory, this mixed methods approach illuminates how justice is defined, framed, and mechanized in the policy process. Findings suggest that state policies lack strong enforcement mechanisms, yielding few tangible results, but persistent pressure from EJ advocates as well as subsequent policy iterations continue to improve alignment with the EJ Principles.
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