March 1, 2005
Conference Paper

A Ten Year Retrospective on Environmental Justice: What Have We Learned?


Beginning in 1994, Executive Order 12898 has directed federal executive agencies to identify and address, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority and low income populations. The policy behind the Executive Order was to prevent minority and low income groups from bearing disproportionate adverse environmental consequences of federal actions. During the last ten years, federal agencies have implemented Executive Order 12898, and some also have developed explicit procedures or guidance for the steps that need to be taken during the preparation of environmental impact statements. Based on the authors’ experience, the paper examines how environmental justice practice has evolved in the ten years since the original Executive Order was issued. This evolution has been both procedural and substantive. The paper examines how the actual practice of environmental justice analysis has progressed in federal agencies that deal with waste management issues. Reference is made to changes in case law and agency practice. The 2000 Census of Population and the ongoing development of geographic information systems in particular have made it easier to identify minority and low-income populations at risk. At the same time, a number of stakeholder groups have taken positions over specific federal actions that have given rise to novel issues and challenges for analysts. The paper discusses how NEPA practice is evolving to deal with these issues and challenges.

Revised: May 19, 2011 | Published: March 1, 2005


Scott M.J., J.A. Jaksch, and K.A. Cort. 2005. A Ten Year Retrospective on Environmental Justice: What Have We Learned?. In Proceedings, Waste Management 2005, February 27 – March 3, 2005, Tucson, Arizona."Global Accomplishments in Environmental and Radioactive Waste Management: Cost-Effectiveness, Risk Reduction, and Technology Implementation". Tuscon, Arizona:Waste Management Symposia Inc. PNNL-SA-43942.