Geography & Environment Publications

No Opportunity to Say No: A Case Study of Procedural Environmental Injustice in Canada

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Journal of Environmental Planning and Management

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While a number of studies have shown that blacks, Hispanics and the poor are
disproportionately exposed to pollution hazards, particularly 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 indepth 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.

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