Research

Objectives: Few studies have considered the sociohistorical intersection of environmental injustice and gentrification; a gap addressed by this case study of Seattle, Washington. This study explored the advantages of integrating air toxic risk screening with gentrification research to enhance proximity and health equity analysis methodologies. It was hypothesized that Seattle's industrial air toxic exposure risk was unevenly dispersed, that gentrification stratified the city's neighborhoods, and that the inequities of both converged. Methods. Spatial characterizations of air toxic pollution risk exposures from 1990 to 2007 were combined with longitudinal cluster analysis of census block groups in Seattle, Washington, from 1990 to 2000. Results. A cluster of air toxic exposure inequality and socioeconomic inequity converged in 1 area of south central Seattle. Minority and working class residents were more concentrated in the same neighborhoods near Seattle's worst industrial pollution risks. Conclusions. Not all pollution was distributed equally in a dynamic urban landscape. Using techniques to examine skewed riskscapes and socioeconomic urban geographies provided a foundation for future research on the connections among environmental health hazard sources, socially vulnerable neighborhoods, and health inequity. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print August 11, 2011: e1-e9. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300174).

Image: Skewed riskscapes and gentrified inequities:
Environmental Exposure Disparities in Seattle, Washington
http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/reprint/AJPH.2011.300174v1.pdf

 

Coming Clean: Information Disclosure and Environmental Performance
MIT Press, 2011
Visit the MIT Press website at http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog

Michael E. Kraft, Mark Stephan and Troy D. Abel
Coming Clean is the first book to investigate the process of information disclosure as a policy strategy for environmental protection. This process, which requires that firms disclose information about their environmental performance, is part of an approach to environmental protection that eschews the conventional command-and-control regulatory apparatus, which sometimes leads government and industry to focus on meeting only minimal standards.

The authors of Coming Clean examine the effectiveness of information disclosure in achieving actual improvements in corporate environmental performance by analyzing data from the federal government’s Toxics Release Inventory, or TRI, and drawing on an original set of survey data from corporations and federal, state, and local officials, among other sources. The authors find that TRI--probably the best-known example of information disclosure--has had a substantial effect over time on the environmental performance of industry. But, drawing on case studies from across the nation, they show that the improvement is not uniform: some facilities have been leaders while others have been laggards. The authors argue that information disclosure has an important role to play in environmental policy--but only as part of an integrated set of policy tools that includes conventional regulation.

 

Tools of Environmental Justice
This co-authored article with Mark Stephan (WSU) provides the first program evaluation of EPS's small grants program to support community organizations striving for environmental justice. We hypothesized and found that the EPS supported the enhancement of information and technical capacity in communities more than collaborative efforts.

 

Skewed Riskscapes: Environmental Injustice
This paper presents a case study of Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) air pollution exposure risks across metropolitan St. Louis. The analysis of TRIs across metropolitan St. Louis shows that minority and low-income residents were disproportionately closer to industrial pollution sources at nonrandom significance levels. Spatial concentrations of minority residents averaged nearly 40% within one kilometer of St. Louis TRI sites compared to 25% elsewhere. However, one-fifth of the region’s air pollution exposure risk over a decade was spatially concentrated among only six facilities on the southwestern border of East St. Louis. This disproportionate concentration of some of the greatest pollution risk would never be considered in most conventional environmental justice analyses. Not all pollution exposure risk is average, and the worst industrial risks deserve more attention from environmental managers assessing and mitigating environmental injustices.

 

Environmental information disclosure and risk reduction among the states.
This fall 2007 publication explores factors that may explain why some states host greater concentrations of manufacturers reducing pollution and risk. The conclusion is that the driving mechanism for industrial environmental performance may be the anticipatory actions of businesses attempting to preempt regulatory pressure, especially in policy progressive states.

 

A Value-Belief-Norm Theory of Support for Social Movements: The Case of Environmentalism
We present a theory of the basis of support for a social movement. Three types of support (citizenship actions, policy support and acceptance, and personal-sphere behaviors that accord with movement principles) are empirically distinct from each other and from committed activism. Drawing on theoretical work on values and norm-activation processes, we propose a value-belief-norm (VBN) theory of movement support. Individuals who accept a movement's basic values, believe that valued objects are threatened, and believe that their actions can help restore those values experience an obligation (personal norm) for pro-movement action that creates a predisposition to provide support; the particular type of support that results is dependent on the individual's capabilities and constraints. Data from a national survey of 420 respondents suggest that the VBN theory, when compared with other prevalent theories, offers the best available account of support for the environmental movement.

 

The Limits of Civic Environmentalism
In this 2000 publication co-authored with Mark Stephan, we use a combination of case studies and interviews to critique a growing literature that optimistically associates the devolution of environmental policy making with citizen participation.

Page Updated 10.15.2013