The first chapter of the book introduces the subject of environmental justice, and then presents the main question analyzed throughout the rest of the book: did the federal environmental justice policy reforms of the mid-1990s result in the EPA and other federal agencies making environmental justice a core component of their decision-making? Although these reforms, particularly the 1994 presidential Executive Order on environmental justice have been in place for twenty years, there has been very little systematic analysis of their efficacy. The chapter argues that it is an opportune time for such an analysis. The balance of the chapter then sets up the rest of the book by reviewing 1) the empirical literature that has developed over the past three decades to document the type and degree of race- and class-based disparities in environmental amenities; and 2) previous research that has been conducted to evaluate the impact of environmental justice policy. The chapter then outlines a conceptual framework of justice issues (distributive justice, procedural justice, and corrective justice) used in the book to evaluate the performance of the federal government, particularly the EPA, in integrating environmental justice considerations into its decision-making, and provides an overview of each of the subsequent chapters.
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