Kimberly Fields

Ph.D. Candidate in American Politics and Race, Ethnicity & Politics

Dissertation Title:  "Policy Choices and Consequences: Variations in the Policy Feedback Effects of Race-Conscious and Race-Neutral Environmental Justice Policies"

Committee: Adolph Reed (chair), Rogers Smith, Nancy Hirschmann,
Daniel Gillion

Responding to Executive Order 12898 and mounting evidence of significant inequalities in the distribution of environmental hazards, particularly in communities of color, several states have implemented environmental justice (EJ) policies and programs . While these policies vary in many ways, in general, they reflect an embrace of either a race-conscious or race-neutral understanding of environmental justice.

This dissertation examines the available race-neutral and race-conscious discourses and definitions of environmental justice that these EJ policies draw from and the subsequent policy feedback effects related to each. The methodology is two-tiered. First, a statistical analysis of original survey data evaluates the interpretive and resource effects these policies produce and their relationship to stake-holders' subsequent political behavior. The second phase describes the connection between race conscious and race-neutral EJ policy design and policy trajectories, particularly as they pertain to identifiable, implemented remediation efforts designed to eliminate environmental inequalities in communities of color.  A positive correlation is observed between the race-conscious EJ policies included in this study and increased EJ remediation efforts and stakeholder participation. Additionally, this study argues that dominant existing theories of justice fall short with respect to addressing the demands of negatively impacted environmental justice communities because they narrowly focus on distributive and or procedural fairness instead of remediation and transformative curative action specifically designed to eliminate racial inequalities.

University of Pennsylvania
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Philadelphia, PA 19104-6215
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Edward Mansfield Chair
Matthew Levendusky Graduate Chair
John Lapinski Undergraduate Chair