Professor Jill Harrison
Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Colorado Boulder
Oct 1, 2021
GUGG 6, 3:30 PM
In this presentation, Harrison will present key findings from her book, From the Inside Out, whichlifts the veil on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other environmental regulatory agencies to offer new insights into why they fail to reduce harmful toxics and other hazards in our nation’s most environmentally overburdened and vulnerable communities. It examines the disappointing pace of environmental regulatory agencies’ “environmental justice” (EJ) programs and policies as a case through which to understand why, despite reducing air and water pollution for the nation overall, government has not protected the communities who suffer themost. Other scholars have shown that budget cuts, industry pressure, and other factors outside the control of agency staff constrain the possibilities for EJ reforms to regulatory practice. This book shows that agencies’ EJ efforts are also undermined by elements of regulatory workplace culture. Through extensive interviews with and observations of staff at numerous environmental regulatory agencies across the United States, Harrison shows that agencies’ EJ efforts are undermined by everyday ways in which well-meaning staff dedicated to environmental regulation reject EJ reforms as violating what they think their organization does and should do. A rare glimpse inside environmental regulatory agencies, these findings help explain the shortcomings of environmental regulation and policy implementation today. It also shows how agencies’ EJ staff – those tasked with developing EJ reforms – endeavor to change both regulatory practice and regulatory culture from the inside out.