Finding Procedural Justice in Baltimore’s Department of Public Works

by Maren Stunes

Faculty Intro:

“Maren Stunes’ research paper, completed in Fall 2016 in ES 375, Environmental Justice, demonstrates a critical analysis of the Baltimore City Public Works Department and its decision to shut off water to citizens with outstanding bills. She utilizes a procedural justice lens to critically examine the structural inefficiencies in city government. Baltimore City represents a fascinating case study in this context due to its unique political structure and recent, controversial decisions to shut-off water to its most vulnerable communities. Stunes argues that there is a lack of opportunity for citizens to participate in those decisions that affect their everyday lives and livelihoods. Drawing on literature grounded in water rights, Stunes demonstrates that water has particular significance as a human right. The paper offers a new lens through which to understand structural decision-making processes in city government in Baltimore, highlighting the way in which the most marginal populations continue to be made irrelevant, a process that carries greater weight when analyzed in the context of access to and distribution of water.”

From the Author:

“This paper emerged from my desire to bring attention to local environmental injustices occurring in our Greater Baltimore community. For months preceding my research, headlining cases of environmental injustice, like the contamination of water in Flint, Michigan, had placed a spotlight on structural inequities in environmental decision making that adversely impact marginalized communities. I wanted to expand that spotlight to Baltimore and demonstrate the pervasive nature of environmental injustices, by both chronicling and visualizing (via maps!) water affordability and access issues, while considering the structures of power that deter a human’s right to water.”

Read: Finding Procedural Justice in Baltimore’s Department of Public Works

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