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This Article argues that current administrative processes fail to effectively incorporate an important form of public participation in decision-making -- the participation by communities bearing the greatest environmental risks. This Article advocates an "environmental justice style" public participation model as a more promising approach because it calls for a recasting of the role of community participation in environmental decision-making -- a recasting which transcends traditional, modern, and proposed decision-making paradigms.Part II of this Article provides a brief history of the environmental justice movement. Part III addresses the role of the public under three models of administrative policy and decision-making: the traditional expertise-oriented model, the modern pluralistic model, and the recently proposed civic republican model. In particular, Part III examines the foundational beliefs and regulatory ideals that dominate each model. Part IV explores environmental justice advocacy under each model and concludes that such advocacy defies the structure of all models, rendering the environmental justice position a "misfit" within the. current system. Part IV addresses the misfit status and advances an alternative approach that might prove more successful in integrating environmental justice into environmental regulation. Part V contemplates this alternative approach and the limitations of traditional approaches in the context of three conventional public participation avenues in agency proceedings: advisory groups, notice and comment, and informal participation. Last, the Article suggests that taking the environmental justice challenge seriously and confronting the paradigm paradox could mark a fundamental shift in environmental regulation.

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Stanford Environmental Law Journal



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