The majority of environmental justice policies today exist as extremely decentralized municipal ordinances or as extremely centralized government agency strategies. Each system of regulation presents distinct advantages. Therefore, an analysis of the City of Cincinnati Environmental Justice Ordinance within the context of the ongoing debate between the benefits of centralized versus decentralized environmental regulations (the centralization-decentralization debate) examines the advantages of each scheme of regulations more extensively. However, each argument in favor of one type of regulation represents a disadvantage of the other, so this Note argues that by implementing environmental justice regulations at the state level, with the Cincinnati Ordinance as a model, the benefits of both local and national policies can be combined while mitigating the relative disadvantages. To illustrate the inadequacies of both federal and local level attempts to achieve environmental justice, this Note canvasses a brief history of the environmental justice movement at the federal, state, and local levels, including a description of the specific provisions of the Ordinance. As the history of the movement will show, neither the federal, state, nor local level governments provide effective or efficient legal remedies for environmental justice. However, state administrative agencies, whose regulatory authority mirrors those at the federal level, have the flexibility to expand their environmental justice policies with the cooperation of state legislatures. Part III of this Note then provides an analysis of the Ordinance regarding the effectiveness of its provisions in achieving the goals of the environmental justice movement. The Ordinance provides an effective model for future environmental justice policies because it enhances government accountability. Additionally, Part III analyzes the Ordinance with respect to the centralization -decentralization debate. Theoretically, environmental justice regulations can be promulgated at any level of government--either by the national government as the supreme law of the land or under the state and local police powers. However, an analysis of the Ordinance within the context of the centralization-decentralization debate is necessary to show that practical considerations weigh in favor of neither local nor national environmental just policies, but for regulations at the state level instead.
Note, The Cincinnati Environmental Justice Ordinance: Proposing a New Model for Environmental Justice Regulations by the States, 60 Clev. St. L. Rev. 223 (2012)