Submission Date

7-19-2019

Document Type

Paper

Department

Sociology

Second Department

Environmental Studies

Faculty Mentor

Jonathan Clark

Comments

Presented during the 21st Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 19, 2019 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) defines an environmental justice area as any census tract that partially or wholly includes a 30 percent or greater minority population or 20 percent or more of a population living in poverty. However, little is known about how the average Pennsylvanian defines environmental justice, hindering our ability to determine whether the current definition is adequate. Using transcripts from nine listening sessions on the DEP’s tour of affected counties, I address 3 questions: (1) How do people define environmental justice? (2) What do people think are the most pressing issues in each county? And (3) How do perceived injustices shape people’s understanding of environmental justice? Using definitions of environmental justice from transcripts as well as from governmental agencies, I determine differences among definitions and make a policy argument for the creation of multiple definitions by region rather than one definition for the Commonwealth.

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