Thesis

Race, class, and community: the politics of EPA Superfund sites

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in 1970 to establish and enforce environmental protection standards in accordance with national goals. The EPA is also charged with gathering data on pollution and determining issues of environmental justice. To deal with the problems associated with the most hazardous sites, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), better known as the Superfund Act, was passed by Congress in 1980. While many environmental justice studies have focused on whether minorities or lower socioeconomic status populations are disproportionately affected by proximity to less hazardous sites such as facilities for the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous wastes (TSDFs) and the siting process for such sites, Superfund sites have largely been ignored. Yet, these sites are the worst of the hazardous sites and present the greatest dangers to the populations living in proximity to them. This study will focus on the populations living near Superfund sites. Previous studies of less hazardous sites have concluded that those affected by proximity to these sites have been either minorities, of lower socioeconomic status, or both. Using census tract data, this study will examine whether race/ethnicity or socioeconomic status are factors in determining which groups are disproportionately affected by living in proximity to Superfund sites. The expectation is that minorities and persons of lower socioeconomic status are significantly more likely to live near Superfund sites.

Thesis (M.A., Sociology) -- California State University, Sacramento, 2010.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in 1970 to establish and enforce environmental protection standards in accordance with national goals. The EPA is also charged with gathering data on pollution and determining issues of environmental justice. To deal with the problems associated with the most hazardous sites, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), better known as the Superfund Act, was passed by Congress in 1980. While many environmental justice studies have focused on whether minorities or lower socioeconomic status populations are disproportionately affected by proximity to less hazardous sites such as facilities for the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous wastes (TSDFs) and the siting process for such sites, Superfund sites have largely been ignored. Yet, these sites are the worst of the hazardous sites and present the greatest dangers to the populations living in proximity to them. This study will focus on the populations living near Superfund sites. Previous studies of less hazardous sites have concluded that those affected by proximity to these sites have been either minorities, of lower socioeconomic status, or both. Using census tract data, this study will examine whether race/ethnicity or socioeconomic status are factors in determining which groups are disproportionately affected by living in proximity to Superfund sites. The expectation is that minorities and persons of lower socioeconomic status are significantly more likely to live near Superfund sites.

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