Breath of Clarity

Environmental Policy Analysis Discussion #4: B

The zoom recording discussed three types of inequity: procedural, geographic, and social. Procedural equity encompasses all aspects of how we make decisions and how we run our organizations. For example, a group can hold public hearings at times and places that limit public participation from certain segments of society. When I was younger and learned about this type of inequity, my teacher phrased it as “structural violence”. It can also be exercised by creating excessive administrative loopholes for certain populations to acquire required paperwork. For example, I have met some kids from overseas who talk about the increased difficulty in gathering materials needed for a visa during the current Trump administration. Geographic inequity is defined as the benefits being received by some communities, but the costs associated with the project are a burden to another community. Geographical inequity would be useful to consider when doing environmental planning for a project that is going to be using tax dollars. It is important to make changes that is going to positively impact a large segment of the population instead of just a particular group. I also appreciate the example from the zoom recording that said certain catastrophic events are not getting as much news coverage compared to others. Donations of recovery supplies are often dependent on outsiders hearing about disasters on the news and wanting to help from afar. That said, lacking news coverage of certain issues limits support. Lastly, social inequity involves institutional power arrangements or systematic biases. I agree awareness is the first step to getting rid of bias. However, one must have some sort of outside entity evaluating it in order to notice issues that were not originally apparent. Conversely, instead, the stance organizations take on social issues is polarized and they end up simply partnering with other groups who agree with their viewpoints. I agree inequity is a massive issue and found it particularly notable the zoom recording said often all three of these inequities are found associated with the same project.

One example of all three inequalities occurring within the same project is the Environmental Projection Agency (EPA) altering how it calculates the lives saved from cleaner air. Here, procedural inequity is being exercised because protocol was changed in order to undermine future clean air regulation. Further, lack of federal and state enforcement during the crisis has led to communities facing illegal levels of exposure to chemicals and emissions (Lebber 2020). The new regulation is geologically inequitable because it is particularly devastating to neighborhoods in poverty which are specifically vulnerable to the pandemic due to lack of cleanliness and resource scarcity. Due to the institutional power arrangements leading to a significant amount of impoverished areas being composed of black Americans, it is also a problem of social inequity (Lebber 2020). Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, pointed out in her testimony that 71% of African Americans live in counties in violation of federal air pollution standards (Lebber 2020). According to the Center for Disease Control, Black patients accounted for 33% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 23% of death which is disproportionate to the 18% of the total U.S. population that identifies as black (Lebber 2020). Air pollution in poor communities has long caused soaring rates of respiratory and heart disease which are underlying conditions that are now worsening outcomes in people who contract the virus.


Lebber, Rebecca. 2020. “Black Americans bear the brunt of Trump’s environmental rollbacks”. High Country News. Accessed October 11.