Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environment, Economics, and Politics (EEP)

Reader 1

Mary Evans

Reader 2

Thomas McHenry

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© 2017 Deedee Chao


As the environmental justice movement has spread and become more mainstream since its start in the 1980s, its framework and body of knowledge has expanded, and environmental justice activists, organizers, and scholars have developed and critiqued different methods through which environmental justice can be pursued. Among its relatively new concepts is the idea of slow violence, or the long-term and continuous impacts of environmental injustices on an afflicted community; and among the methods examined by scholars is environmental justice litigation, where legal action is taken, often with members of an affected community as plaintiffs, to remedy environmental injustices within that area.

This thesis aims to analyze the efficacy of environmental justice litigation in its ability to address slow violence through two case studies, Hinkley Groundwater Contamination and Kettleman Hills Waste Facility, which both took place in the 1990s in California, a state now known for its progressive legislation and consideration of environmental justice. It concludes that, while the short-term nature of litigation is not necessarily compatible with the long-term nature of slow violence, successful litigation coupled with the empowerment and engagement of the local community increase the likelihood of litigation partially addressing and mitigating the effects of slow violence in the present and future.