GIS methods for screening potential environmental justice areas in New England
Author(s)Kumar, Chitra M., 1977-
Geographic information systems methods for screening potential environmental justice areas in New England
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Joseph Ferreira, Jr.
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Over the past decade scholars, scientists, and community advocates have argued that minority and low-income communities have been exposed to disproportionate amounts of hazardous pollution as a result of systematic biases in policy making and discriminatory market forces. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is an important tool used to assist regulatory agencies in identifying these potentially vulnerable or "potential environmental justice" areas so that programmatic decision-making can incorporate EJ concerns. Yet, few studies have documented or evaluated methodologies for EJ-GIS analyses utilized by public agencies. This paper explores various methodologies that approximate where communities at risk of disproportionate burden may be with respect to the unique character and composition of New England. Specific variables explored are race/ethnicity, poverty, and population density. For each variable a scale and threshold/reference value is determined; also, the possibility of establishing a ranking system was contemplated. The importance of investigating spatial clustering and integrating variables into combined criteria was also discussed. This research began with the problem being framed. Then, a survey of the literature and public institutions was done to identify relevant practices and state-of-the-art technology in environmental justice analysis. Next, a process was designed to develop and select an appropriate methodology. This process included meeting systematically with members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency New England GIS team and Mapping Workgroup of the Environmental Justice Council to discuss and compare various methods of analysis. Based on research results, recommendations were made to the EPA New England regional office on how to improve their demographic mapping system. These recommendations are hoped to be adopted by EPA New England and introduced in a desktop GIS tool by the end of 2002.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2002.Includes bibliographical references (leaves 81-85).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.