Environmental Justice: a local, Canadian case-study

by Leith Deacon

Save LincolnvilleWhile a number of studies have shown that ethnoracial groups are disproportionately exposed to pollution hazards, particularly among blacks, Hispanics and the poor in the United States, there are much fewer that focus on the processes contributing to environmental injustices.

This paper contributes to the environmental justice literature by exploring local environmental conflict over a pollution hazard (municipal solid waste) to further decipher the process(es) that may perpetuate environmental injustices.

Through a Canadian qualitative case study involving in-depth interviews with residents, we emphasize important deficits in, and experiences of, public participation throughout the environmental assessment process. We do this by recounting the experiences of black residents from a small rural community near two landfills in Eastern Canada. We find that there are subtle processes – linked primarily to public participation – that create and sustain environmental injustices by ultimately denying residents the opportunity to say ‘‘no’’ to unwanted developments.

This case highlights both the process of injustice as well as the experience of injustice. The procedural culprits contribute to the production and reproduction of environmental injustice, demonstrating that environmental injustice is not simply a result of exposure to pollution; environmental injustice is a result of a number of long established practices, which in order to be remedied, techniques must be tailored to be inclusive of an affected population.

Link to Journal website: No opportunity to say no: a case study of procedural environmental injustice in Canada

NSPIRG Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group: http://nspirg.org/

Save Lincolnville Campaign: http://www.savelincolnville.org/

Leith Deacon is a health geographer with an interest in environmental
justice as it relates to the environmental impact assessment process,
environmental policy, perception and the concept of “true” accessibility.  More specifically, how/why certain groups are able/unable to actively engage throughout the environmental assessment process and what role various socioeconomic factors and perception play. He also is interested in concepts related to the media and its role in knowledge transference, creation, and implication on various environmental policies by combining qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

For more information, contact Leith Deacon at: deacon1@ualberta.ca

Co-author: Jamie Baxter, University of Western Ontario