The Meinong Anti-Dam Movement: An Environmental Justice Perspective
Influenced by a developmental thinking mode, the government of Taiwan has actively promoted dam construction, building over 40 dams in aboriginal and residential mountain areas in only 10 years. Although the construction of a dam has significant short-term economic benefits, it also has an extremely negative influence on the surrounding environment. Besides procedural injustices, dam projects also exhibit the phenomenon of unfair social distribution. Specifically, dominant groups or ethnicities have access to the majority of the dam’s economic benefits, whereas the disadvantaged bear the environmental burdens. These burdens include the loss of natural resources, economic benefits, and cultural and ecological diversity, and imbalances in their distribution has led to numerous environmental injustice cases. The Anti-Dam Movement organized by the residents of Meinong was Taiwan’s first environmental social movement for protesting dams. The results of this 20-year protest show that the governmental processes for promoting construction projects, construction reasons, and the demands of the anti-dam protesters in Taiwan correspond to the processes and post-movement concepts of the American Environmental Justice Movement. Thus, the Anti-Dam Movement is an Environmental Justice Movement in Taiwan. This study adopted an environmental justice perspective to examine the anti-dam environmental issues in the Meinong Hakka area. Through our observations, we aimed to identify the failings of the Meinong Reservoir construction project and processes, and distributions of substantial environmental benefits and burdens. Finally, we explained the environmental justice ideals advocated by the Meinong Anti-Dam Movement.