Environmental justice and domestic climate change policy

This article argues that, except in California, environmental justice considerations have not received sufficient attention in climate change policy debates. It explores the environmental justice implications of emerging domestic climate change policies and provides policymakers with specific suggestions on how to integrate environmental justice concerns. The article begins by introducing the environmental justice movement and its central principles, and then explores the limited integration of environmental justice concerns in existing climate change policies. The article then clarifies existing debates about the environmental implications of greenhouse gas cap and trade programs by providing a detailed assessment of their distributional benefits and risks. The article also includes specific mechanisms by which environmental justice could be integrated into cap and trade programs, and discusses the administrative and economic efficiency ramifications of such integration. Having addressed the environmental implications of cap and trade programs, the article then turns, more broadly, to the economic implications, both negative and positive, of a variety of existing or future climate change policies, including, but not limited to, cap and trade programs. This Part notes that climate change policies could result in significant economic and technological transformations that provide unique development opportunities for disadvantaged communities. The article ends by exploring the risks and opportunities presented by alternative technologies, with a particular focus on the risks presented by ethanol production and use. Given the likelihood that climate change policies will result in pervasive economic and environmental ramifications for the nation, it is incumbent upon decisionmakers to integrate distributional considerations into emerging policies.
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