Addressing Community Concerns: How Environmental Justice relates to Land Use Planning and Zoning
National Academy of Public Administration
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In February 2000, the Board of Directors of the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy) created the Standing Panel on Social Equity in Governance. The Academy believes that good governance must be fair, just, and equitable, and must ensure "the equitable distribution of public services and implementation of public policy." To that end, a Panel of Academy Fellows has undertaken three studies since 2001 that examine the role of federal, state, and local governments in responding to public concerns about environmental justice issues. The Academy Panel has found that achieving environmental justice is integral to the effective administration of public policies and programs. Environmental justice means that all citizens receive fair treatment and that government should offer them meaningful involvement in decisions affecting their health, environment, and neighborhoods. Working to resolve these issues has forced public administrators to do business differently because our past approaches have left some communities without adequate protection for health, welfare, and environment and has deprived some citizens of opportunities for effective civic engagement. There are many encouraging signs that governments at all levels are beginning to tackle these challenges and are starting to address environmental justice concerns in more effective ways. The Panel hopes the lessons identified in this study -- like those identified in our two environmental justice studies that have preceeded it -- will catalyze actions by federal, state, and local governments to improve conditions for those who reside in people-of-color and low-income communities.