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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation

Environmental Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Stanger, Nicholas

Second Advisor

Darby, Kate J.

Third Advisor

Barnhart, Charles


Energy justice, based within the roots and philosophy of environmental justice, is a relatively new framework of assessing justice throughout our energy systems from production to consumption (Jenkins et al., 2020). Environmental justice emerged in the 1980s in response to the disproportionate burden that low income and communities of color experience from environmental harms and their negative externalities (Bullard & Johnson, 2000). Energy justice applies these concepts to our energy systems in a variety of ways. This research operationalizes one popular definition of energy justice to assess the presence of justice within the siting proposal of an energy infrastructure project. The case study analyzed in this research is the Cherry Point Gateway Pacific coal export terminal proposal in Whatcom County, Washington that was mainly active from 2011-2016. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejected this proposal in 2016 based on the pre-existing treaty rights of the Lummi Nation. The framework of energy justice I chose for this research includes the three tenets of distributional, procedural, and recognition justice. Using a case study methodology, I assess the three tenets by analyzing existing data and documents. Though applying this tool is a helpful first step in critical analysis of energy infrastructure, it can and should be expanded to include the complexities of justice and U.S.-based energy systems. This includes prioritizing Indigenous rights and justice, as well as political economic context.




energy justice, environmental justice, energy projects, coal, siting


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Coal-fired power plants--Washington (State)--Cherry Point; Indigenous peoples--Land tenure--Washington (State)--Cherry Point; Energy security--Washington (State)--Whatcom County; Environmental justice--Washington (State)--Whatcom County

Geographic Coverage

Whatcom County (Wash.); Cherry Point (Wash.)




masters theses




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