On Notions of Fairness in Environmental Justice

In this article, the existence of disproportionate environmental risk in low-income and/or minority communities is evaluated for the Phoenix metropolitan area. The results of the econometric estimation illustrate that advocacy against disproportionate risk can lead to paradoxical results, making minority and low-income individuals worse off. Specifically, it is concluded that in the process of siting potentially polluting activities, emphasis should not be focused on avoiding disproportionate risk per se, but rather on ensuring that affected populations share fully in making decisions that affect their environment. This result supports the more general proposition that pursuing environmental justice goals that are not directly tied to the individual welfare of communities at risk can result in the violation of the Pareto principle.


Satheesh Aradhyula, Melissa A. Burns, and Dennis C. Cory

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