Environmental Justice & Executive Order Research Proposal


Unincorporated, poor, and communities of color often suffer a "triple" vulnerability of noxious facility siting." (Bullard, 1998) Finally, 'Social Equity' is that which "assesses the role of sociological factors (race, ethnicity, class, culture, life styles, political power, etc.) on environmental decision making. Poor people and people of color often work in the most dangerous jobs, live in the most polluted neighborhoods, and their children are exposed to all kinds of environmental toxins on the playgrounds and in their homes." (Bullard, 1998)


The National Preservation Institute states that the term 'cultural resource' is not defined in NEPA or even in any other Federal law and yet there are "several laws and executive orders that deal with particular kind of 'resources' that are 'cultural' in character." The following is a description of various sources and their definitions of regulations relating to cultural resources and the human's interaction with their environment.

NEPA and CEQ regulations: makes a requirement of agencies to consider the effects of their actions on all aspects of the 'human environment'.

The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) sets forth Government policy and procedures regarding "historic properties" -- that is, districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects included in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Section 106 of NHPA requires that Federal agencies consider the effects of their actions on such properties, following regulations issued by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (36 CFR 800).

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) requires Federal agencies and federally assisted museums to return "Native American cultural items" to the Federally recognized Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian groups with which they are associated. Regulations, by the National Park Service (NPS) are at 43 CFR 10.

The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) says that the U.S. Government will respect and protect the rights of Indian tribes to the free exercise of their traditional religions; the courts have interpreted this as requiring agencies to consider the effects of their actions on traditional religious practices.

The Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) prohibits the excavation of archeological resources (anything of archeological interest) on Federal or Indian lands, without a permit from the land manager.

The Archeological Data Preservation Act (ADPA) or Archeological and Historic Preservation Act (AHPA) requires that agencies to report any perceived impacts that their projects and programs may have on archeological, historical, and scientific data, and to recover such data or assist the Secretary of the Interior in recovering them.

The Federal Records Act (FRA) requires that agencies manage documents in such a way as to protect their historical value.

The Abandoned Shipwrecks Act (ASA) asserts U.S. title to abandoned shipwrecks, and transfers title to the States.

Executive Order 12898 requires that agencies try to avoid disproportionate and adverse environmental impacts on low income and minority populations; impacts may be cultural -- for example, impacts on a culturally important religious, subsistence, or social practice.

Executive Order 13006 requires that agencies give priority to using historic buildings in historic districts in central business areas to meet their mission requirements.

Executive Order 13007 requires that agencies try not to damage "Indian sacred sites" on Federal land, and avoid blocking access to such sites by traditional religious practitioners. (National Preservation Institute, 2009)

The National Preservation Society states that the 'human environment' is to include "the natural and physical environment and the relationship of people with that environment." (40 CFR 1508.14; as cited by the National Preservation Institute, 2009) the National Preservation Institute additionally states that a NEPA conducted environmental analysis that is thorough "should systematically address the 'human' - social and cultural - aspects of the environment as well as those that are more 'natural' and should address the relationships between natural and cultural." (2009)

Cultural resources include such as the following:

Historic properties;

Other culturally valued pieces of real property;

Cultural use of the biophysical environment; and Such 'intangible' sociocultural attributes as social cohesion, social institutions, lifeways, religious practices, and other cultural institutions. (National Preservation Institute, 2009)


The work of Sandra George O'Neil (2007) entitled: "Superfund: Evaluating the Impact of Executive Order 12898" states that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) addresses uncontrolled and abandoned hazardous waste sites throughout the country. Sites that are perceived to be a significant threat to both surrounding populations and the environment...


EPA Superfund list and qualify for federal cleanup funds." (O'Neil, 2007)
It is reported that the "equitability of the Superfund program has been questioned; the representation of minority and low-income populations in this cleanup program is lower than would be expected." (O'Neil, 2007) it is stated for example by O'Neil that environmental justice became acknowledged widely in the early 1980s "...as minority and low-income neighborhoods fought to keep environmental hazards out of their communities and away from their families. Researchers began to analyze and document environmental injustices around the country and found that minorities and poor were in fact, more frequently living near environmental hazards." (2007)

The U.S. Congress under President Carter is stated to have "...established the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act or CERLA (1980). As part of CERCLA and in an effort to address hazardous waste sites across the country, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must locate and prioritize the most severe sites for remedial action. Sites perceived to be the most threatening to both surrounding populations and the environment can be placed on the National Priorities List (also known as NPL or Superfund list; U.S. EPA, 2007) and are then eligible to receive funding through the Superfund. Although the specific ways in which toxins in the ground, water, or air produce adverse health effects in humans are still disputed, the toxicity of such sites and potential risks posed to human populations and the environment certainly warrant attention. As of March 2003, there were 1,484 sites on the Superfund list, and over 6.5 million people living in census tracts with Superfund sites." (O'Neil, 2005/2007)

O'Neil additionally notes as follows: "Ideally the process of moving a site to the federal Superfund list would be related solely to the severity of hazard posed to the surrounding populations. However, other social forces shape the listing of a Superfund site. A site could be listed because of its hazardousness, or conversely it could be listed because it is less hazardous and therefore easier to clean. Moreover, a site could also move more quickly through the listing process because it is in a community perceived to have more power through access to resources because individuals residing in the area have higher incomes or because of racial or ethnic composition of the area. This environmental cleanup injustice has been supported by research demonstrating that representation of minorities and low-income populations is lower in areas with Superfund sites, indicating these populations are not benefiting equally from the Superfund program." (2007)

An attempt was made to correct the environmental injustice by President Carter in 1994 in the establishment of Executive Order 12898 which stated requirements that "...each Federal agency shall make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations, and low-income populations.... (Clinton, 1994) Executive Order 12898 has as its focus the correcting of environmental problems resulting in a disproportionate effect to minority and low-income populations. These populations are specifically identified by this Order and as well this Executive Order makes it a requirement that the agency "address policies and programs that may adversely affect these populations in particular." (O'Neil, 2007) Executive Order 12898 has been on the receiving end of much criticism. The order itself and "its implementation has been criticized." (O'Neil, 2007)

The work of O'Neil (2007) states that the argument posed by Environmental justice concerning the burden of hazardous waste is that the minority and poor population has been shouldering the burden and that this is so because of less power, "lower socioeconomic status and people of color." Cited as the authorities in the work of O'Neil (2007) are studies conducted by the U.S. GAO (1983); the United Church of Christ (UCC, 1987), and Robert Bullard's study of Houston, Texas (1983). The combination of these three study and their findings is stated to support that minorities are indeed overburdened by environmental hazards."(O'Neil, 2007)

While some researchers hold that the disproportionally is merely income-based there are many studies to support the fact that while in "varying degrees" it is the minorities and poor who are most "disproportionately affected by environmental burdens." (Anderton et al. 1994a, 1994b; Been 1993, 1994; Been and Gupta 1997; Bullard 1993; Bullard et al. 1994; Daniels and Friedman 1999; Downey 1998; Faber and Krieg 2001; Krieg 1995; Logan and Molotch 1987; Mohai and Bryant 1992 in: O'Neil, 2007)

O'Neil states that while there is much to be found in existing study findings on environmental burdens and environmental justice "...far fewer studies examine the relationship between environmental remediation and environmental justice, or environmental cleanup justice.…

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"Environmental Justice & Executive Order" (2009, January 26) Retrieved February 25, 2024, from

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"Environmental Justice & Executive Order", 26 January 2009, Accessed.25 February. 2024,

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