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Edwardo Rhodes

Last modified: Tuesday, February 11, 2003

New book examines race, poverty and the environment

Race, poverty and environmental law are the subjects of a new book by Edwardo Rhodes, a professor in Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Environmental Justice in America, published by Indiana University Press, examines how well-meaning environmental laws can have unintended consequences for impoverished Americans, particularly those in racial minorities and other historically underrepresented groups. Rhodes also discusses laws and policies that have worked and the concept of fairness when thorny, race-charged environmental questions are tackled.

"One of the book's primary objectives is exploring the basic notion that the same environmental policies and activities can have quite different effects across racial, income and other population categories," Rhodes said. "In fact, one of the greatest environmental issues of the next several years will be how to deal with these differences."

Rhodes, a former Brookings Institute fellow and investigator for New York City's Office of Review for the Human Resources Administration, said he's learned that pragmatism -- rather than politically charged divisiveness -- is crucial to creating environmental laws and policies that are fairest to all.