and Environmental Defense’s Scorecard see http://www.scorecard.org). Such tools need evaluation, of course, in terms of their ability to provide accurate information about the distribution of environmental impacts, their value in generating ideas about how to reduce inequities, and their accessibility to the various populations concerned with environmental justice issues.
A concerted effort to measure the distribution of environmental impacts would advance both social science and environmental decision making. The research community is now mature enough to move from the rhetoric of environmental justice to the scientific analysis of the underlying phenomena. The proposed research activities can significantly advance understanding by scientists and the public of the dimensions and underlying causes of situations judged as inequitable through developing improved methods of measuring and monitoring them and models for understanding them. This would represent a significant advance over the evidence base for policy at present, which often consists of perceptions of environmental inequities among stakeholder groups rather than any robust empirically based assessment of exposures and impacts.
The recommended research would produce results that are potentially useful to policy makers at various levels of government and to citizens concerned with environmental justice issues. Moreover, there appear to be ready users. An EPA advisory panel has recommended that the agency make environmental justice a core part of its policies and expand its risk framework for measuring the cumulative impacts of toxic chemicals on disadvantaged communities (Risk Policy Report, March 16, 2004:8). This research would provide a tool kit to environmental agencies for examining the impacts of federal and state policies on particular localities or affected groups and considering whether or not the policies are achieving their desired results. The tools developed could help monitor progress toward environmental goals, such as embodied in Executive Order 12898, and ultimately reduce the unanticipated consequences of environmental decision making at the federal and state levels.