Cover image for Killing me softly : toxic waste, corporate profit, and the struggle for environmental justice
Killing me softly : toxic waste, corporate profit, and the struggle for environmental justice
Girdner, Eddie J.
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Publication Information:
New York : Monthly Review Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
ix, 162 pages ; 23 cm
The toxic political economy -- Wasting America: capitalism, waste, and the market in the United States -- Environmental justice, democracy, and grassroots political struggle -- The people's struggle against Amoco waste-tech in Mercer County, Missouri -- Lessons from Mercer County -- Wasting the world: enclosure, accumulation and local environmental struggles on a global scale.
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GE220 .G57 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The political economy of toxic waste was summed up by Lawrence Summersthen chief economist at the World Bank, later U.S. Treasury Secretaryin his notorious claim that poor people live in environments that are, from an economic point of view, not sufficiently polluted. The toxic waste industry came to prominence in the United States after 1945. In its ceaseless search for profit, it now routinely endangers the health of people around the worlds and the planet itself.

Smith and Girdner's Killing Me Softly examines the growth of the toxic waste industry and the economic logic behind its expansion. It gives a hard-hitting account of the damage it has done throughout the United States. It focuses in particular on the struggle of the people of Mercer County, Missouri, against the plans of Amoco Waste-Tech to establish a huge toxic waste landfill in the county. It shows how the persistence of ordinary people in a poor and politically marginalized area could prevail against the predations of corporate power.

Although race and ethnicity play a crucial role in deciding which communities are targeted for toxic waste dumps, Smith and Girdner argue that the critical cleavage within the United States and globally is that of class. The struggle for environmental justice has an important role to play in empowering poor communities and bringing them into a larger movement for social justice.

Author Notes

Eddie J. Girdner teaches International Relations at Baskent University in Ankara, Turkey
Jack Smith teaches English and Philosophy at North Central Missouri College

Reviews 1

Choice Review

While offering a hopeful look at a successful battle to preserve the environment in a poor rural community in Missouri, Killing Me Softly argues its case by using strong rhetoric backed by history of the environmental justice movement. Though stating that environmental injustice has sometimes been viewed as primarily a racial issue, Girdner (Bashkent Univ., Turkey) and Smith (North Central Missouri College) offer evidence (such as an EPA official explaining how corporations look for places to dump where there is less likelihood of organized resistance) that it is also, critically, income levels that help determine placement of waste facilities: poor, rural counties are often targeted. This enlarges on the discussion in works by Robert Bullard, Bunyan Bryant, and others, broadening it to include the root causes of profit-driven "sacrifice zones." The author concludes that "the environmental justice movement must transcend race and national identities." Calling ultimately on grassroots education and activism in fighting capitalistic corporate enrichment and "rampant consumerism" at the expense of the global public good, this book will interest those in areas threatened with toxic waste facilities and seeking nonexploitive "alternative patterns of development" for their communities. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels. S. E. Wiegand Saint Mary's College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
1. The Toxic Political Economyp. 1
2. Wasting America: Capitalism, Waste, and the Market in the United Statesp. 32
3. Environmental Justice, Democracy, and Grassroots Political Strugglep. 53
4. The People's Struggle Against Amoco Waste-Tech in Mercer County, Missourip. 68
5. Lessons from Mercer Countyp. 95
6. Wasting the World: Enclosure, Accumulation and Local Environmental Struggles on a Global Scalep. 115
Endnotesp. 131