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The 1990s saw the emergence of the issue of environmental justice – the disproportionate exposure of low-income and minority communities to environmental hazards - into the U.S. political sphere. The 2000s saw the emergence of global climate change as a political concern. Neither has led to significant legislation at the federal level, and thus old laws designed for different purposes are being utilized with decidedly mixed results.

This article addresses the confluence of environmental justice and global climate change. The two interact in complex ways, as do the approaches to dealing with them both.

The magnitude of the climate challenge has the potential to lead to several collisions between efforts to fight climate change and the effort to achieve greater environmental justice. After summarizing the statutory background, this article will discuss 1) environmental justice implications of mitigation, 2) environmental justice implications of adaptation, and 3) a number of difficult choices ahead, some fairly painless, some quite painful. This article aims to identify the relevant issues but not to resolve them; the latter is a monumental task, and many scholars are working on discrete aspects.


Environmental Law | Law