Military, Race, and Urbanization: Lessons of Environmental Injustice from Las Vegas, Nevada

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Environmental justice scholarship argues state power perpetrates environmental inequalities, but less is known about the U.S. Military’s impact on local urban environmental inequalities. To evaluate the role of the military in contributing to environmental health disparities, I draw on the case study of Las Vegas, Nevada, a southwestern city with active military sites. The analysis uses environmental health, demographic, and Geographic Information System (GIS) data from federal and county agencies. Findings from spatial error models support environmental inequality and treadmill of destruction hypotheses by demonstrating that census tracts in closer proximity to military areas have greater estimated cancer risk from air toxics. Census tracts with a higher percent of poor and Latinx residents, independent of their proximity to military areas, have an additional increase in exposure to air pollution. The case study of Las Vegas offers important lessons of environmental injustice on Latinx environmental health vulnerability and military sites in urban areas.

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Last updated on 09/01/2021