Learning and Development Series - Environmental Injustice





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Published on Apr 10, 2014

Step Up Silicon Valley Learning and Development Series

Environmental Injustice: A Spatial Analysis of Cumulative Environmental Benefits and Burdens for Santa Clara County's Neighborhoods.

Presented by Professor Iris T. Stewart, Professor Christopher M. Bacon, and William Burke

The distribution of environmental benefits and burdens has a significant impact on human health and raises questions about environmental justice and equal access. We expanded upon research methods used by scholars at UC Berkeley and California's Environmental Protection Agency to complete an assessment of cumulative environmental impacts in Santa Clara County. This study uses Geographic Information Systems integrating three difference indices. They include a social vulnerability index (e.g. census track level data about poverty levels, race/ethnicity, age, education, and English proficiency), environmental burdens index (e.g. hazardous emission sites, transportation, and agricultural releases), and environmental benefits index (e.g. parks and open spaces). These indices are mapped and conjuctively analyzed to understand the spatial patterns among social vulnerability and distribution of environmental benefits and burdens. The results find that in some cases low income residents and more socially vulnerable communities are associated with higher concentrations of environmental burdens. They also suggest the need for additional study and environmental monitoring. They could also inform community action and policy.

Produced by Step Up Silicon Valley & Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County

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