Targeting “Cerrell” Communities
Industry and government see siting strategy as their most important undertaking. Though we haven’t found a “Master Plan” specifically targeting poor, Black, Hispanic, Appalachian or Native American communities for LULUs (Locally Undesirable Land Use), we’ve come close in this and some other cases. In this case, of 43 trash incinerators planned for California, the 3 that ended up getting built were in communities of color.
In 1984, the California Waste Management Board paid the Los Angeles consulting firm, Cerrell Associates, $500,000 to define communities that won’t resist siting of LULUs. The study drew on a broad range of industry and academic studies and we believe it’s been broadly circulated throughout the regulatory agencies and waste industry around the country. The Cerrell Study is explicit in identifying communities who won’t resist LULUs. Because almost every new group served by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice since 1984 (and by the Energy Justice Network since 1999) matches the Cerrell profile, we believe it’s the “Master Plan” for siting. Cerrell provides important proof that siting is 99% politics and 1% science.
One amazing line in the report (see p53) rings particularly true in our experience: “One occupational classification has consistently demonstrated itself as a strong indicator of opposition to the siting of noxious facilities, especially nuclear power plants — housewives.” It’s amazing how well these words and the strategies outlined in this document over 20 years ago still hold very true today.
Here’s what the Cerrell study says:
LEAST LIKELY TO RESIST
Southern, Midwestern communities Rural communities
Open to promises of economic benefits Conservative, Republican, Free-Market Above Middle Age
High school or less education
Not involved in social issues
Old-time residents (20 years+)
“Nature exploitive occupations” (farming, ranching, mining)
MOST LIKELY TO RESIST Northeastern, western, California Urban communities
Don’t care or benefits are minor Liberal, Democrat, “Welfare State” Young and middle-aged College-educated
Middle and upper income
Residents for 5-26 years Professional (i.e. “YUPPIES”)
To deflate a Cerrell strategy, get it out before your community. Show how it’s polluters’ way to identify “toxic chumps.” TELL your friends, neighbors and local media about Cerrell so word gets out that the real reason why you’re getting a LULU is because a Los Angeles consulting firm study says you’re too stupid to resist. They ought to be really thrilled to hear that! Most groups that unveiled the Cerrell Formula stirred massive community outrage and stiffened resistance to the LULU.[This intro page adapted by the Energy Justice Network (www.energyjustice.net) from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (www.chej.org). Please see www.ejnet.org/ej/ for additional information on environmental justice and environmental racism. The rest of this document is the unadulterated original report.]