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Measuring Environmental Justice: Analysis of Progress Under Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump

January 2021

Citation: ELR 10038

Author: Mollie Soloway

President Donald Trump’s environmental policies appear detrimental to the environmental justice (EJ) movement, but little work has been done to test their true impact on EJ. This Article offers a method for evaluating progress (or lack thereof) across the last three presidential administrations, proposing three metrics for progress: access to legal recourse, consideration of climate change as an EJ issue, and signaling actions. Using Robert Kuehn’s taxonomy of EJ, it concludes that while not much may be said to have actually been gained or lost in terms of distributive or corrective justice, significant progress was made toward procedural and social justice under President Barack Obama and lost under President Trump. This comparison helps to resolve competing narratives and provides a framework to encourage further comparisons across additional metrics.

Mollie Soloway is a 2021 J.D. candidate at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

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