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Environmental justice issues in communities hosting US nuclear power plants

Description

This study explores the potential risks associated with the 65 U.S.-based commercial nuclear power plants (NPPs) and the distribution of those risks among the populations of both their respective host communities and of the communities located in outlying areas. First,

This study explores the potential risks associated with the 65 U.S.-based commercial nuclear power plants (NPPs) and the distribution of those risks among the populations of both their respective host communities and of the communities located in outlying areas. First, I examine the relevant environmental justice issues. I start by examining the racial/ethnic composition of the host community populations, as well as the disparities in socio-economic status that exist, if any, between the host communities and communities located in outlying areas. Second, I estimate the statistical associations that exist, if any, between a population's distance from a NPP and several independent variables. I conduct multivariate ordinary least square (OLS) regression analyses and spatial autocorrelation regression (SAR) analyses at the national, regional and individual-NPP levels. Third, I construct a NPP potential risk index (NPP PRI) that defines four discrete risk categories--namely, very high risk, high risk, moderate risk, and low risk. The NPP PRI allows me then to estimate the demographic characteristics of the populations exposed to each so-defined level of risk. Fourth, using the Palo Verde NPP as the subject, I simulate a scenario in which a NPP experiences a core-damage accident. I use the RASCAL 4.3 software to simulate the path of dispersion of the resultant radioactive plume, and to investigate the statistical associations that exist, if any, between the dispersed radioactive plume and the demographic characteristics of the populations located within the plume's footprint. This study utilizes distributive justice theories to understand the distribution of the potential risks associated with NPPs, many of which are unpredictable, irreversible and inescapable. I employ an approach that takes into account multiple stakeholders in order to provide avenues for all parties to express concerns, and to ensure the relevance and actionability of any resulting policy recommendations.

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Created

Date Created
2014

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Moderating power: municipal interbasin groundwater transfers in Arizona

Description

The act of moving water across basins is a recent phenomenon in Arizona water policy. This thesis creates a narrative arc for understanding the long-term issues that set precedents for interbasin water transportation and the immediate causes--namely the passage of

The act of moving water across basins is a recent phenomenon in Arizona water policy. This thesis creates a narrative arc for understanding the long-term issues that set precedents for interbasin water transportation and the immediate causes--namely the passage of the seminal Groundwater Management Act (GMA) in 1980--that motivated Scottsdale, Mesa, and Phoenix to acquire rural farmlands in the mid-1980s with the intent of transporting the underlying groundwater back to their respective service areas in the immediate future. Residents of rural areas were active participants in not only the sales of these farmlands, but also in how municipalities would economically develop these properties in the years to come. Their role made these municipal "water farm" purchases function as exchanges. Fears about the impact of these properties and the water transportation they anticipated on communities-of-origin; the limited nature of economic, fiscal, and hydrologic data at the time; and the rise of private water speculators turned water farms into a major political controversy. The six years it took the legislature to wrestle with the problem at the heart this issue--the value of water to rural communities--were among its most tumultuous. The loss of key lawmakers involved in GMA negotiations, the impeachment of Governor Evan Mecham, and a bribery scandal called AZScam collectively sidetracked negotiations. Even more critical was the absence of a mutual recognition that these water farms posed a problem and the external pressure that had forced all parties involved in earlier groundwater-related negotiations to craft compromise. After cities and speculators failed to force a bill favorable to their interests in 1989, a re-alignment among blocs occurred: cities joined with rural interests to craft legislation that grandfathered in existing urban water farms and limited future water farms to several basins. In exchange, rural interests supported a bill to create a Phoenix-area groundwater replenishment district that enabled cooperative management of water supplies. These two bills, which were jointly signed into law in June 1991, tentatively resolved the water farm issue. The creation of a groundwater replenishment district that has subsidized growth in Maricopa, Pinal, and Pima Counties, the creation water bank to store unused Central Arizona Project water for times of drought, and a host of water conservation measures and water leases enabled by the passage of several tribal water rights settlements have set favorable conditions such that Scottsdale, Mesa, and Phoenix never had any reason to transport any water from their water farms. The legacy of these properties then is that they were the product of the intense urgency and uncertainty in urban planning premised on assumptions of growing populations and complementary, inelastic demand. But even as per capita water consumption has declined throughout the Phoenix-area, continued growth has increased demand, beyond the capacity of available supplies so that there will likely be a new push for rural water farms in the foreseeable future.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2013

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Environmental justice and the siting of SR-85 and North Gateway Transfer Station

Description

It is widely recognized that, compared to others, minority and low-income populations are more exposed to environmental burdens and unwanted land uses like waste facilities. To prevent these injustices, cities and industry need to recognize these potential problems in the

It is widely recognized that, compared to others, minority and low-income populations are more exposed to environmental burdens and unwanted land uses like waste facilities. To prevent these injustices, cities and industry need to recognize these potential problems in the siting process and work to address them. I studied Phoenix, AZ, which has historically suffered from environmental justice issues. I examined whether Phoenix considered environmental justice concerns when siting their newest landfill (SR-85) and transfer station (North Gateway Transfer Station). Additionally, I assessed current views on sustainability from members of the Phoenix Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee and of decision-makers in the Public Works Department and Solid Waste Division. Using a mixed methods approach consisting of interviews, document analysis, and a demographic assessment of census tracts, I addressed two main research questions:

1. Do the distributions and siting processes of environmental burdens from SR-85 and North Gateway Transfer Station constitute a case of environmental injustice according to commonly held definitions?

2. Do current Solid Waste and council members on the Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee consider environmental justice, defined as stakeholder engagement, to be a part of sustainability?

The results show that the distribution and siting processes of environmental burdens from these facilities may constitute a case of environmental injustice. While city officials do involve stakeholders in siting decisions, the effects of this involvement is unclear. An analysis of long-term demographic data, however, revealed no significant racial, ethnic, or economic effects due to the locations of the SR-85 and North Gateway Transfer Station.

Interviews with current members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, Public Works Department, and Solid Waste Division indicated that Phoenix’s decision-makers don’t consider environmental justice as part of sustainability. However, they seem to consider stakeholder engagement as important for decision-making.

To help mitigate future injustices, Phoenix needs buffer zone policies for waste facilities and stakeholder engagement policies for decision-making to ensure the public is engaged appropriately in all circumstances. Enacting these policies will help Phoenix become both a more sustainable city and one in which stakeholders have the opportunity to provide feedback and are given decision-making power.

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Created

Date Created
2015

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Social work students' attitudes toward the natural environment

Description

The natural environment is becoming an increasing concern within the global society and within the realm of social work practice. Social work practitioners and scholars are advocating for incorporating environmental justice into social work education, but have yet to adequately

The natural environment is becoming an increasing concern within the global society and within the realm of social work practice. Social work practitioners and scholars are advocating for incorporating environmental justice into social work education, but have yet to adequately develop the research and strategies to execute this task. To further develop the research behind this concept, 112 social work students’ attitudes toward the environment were analyzed using the New Environmental Paradigm Scale and questions regarding the intersection of social work and the natural environment. Analysis of the data found social work students were less pro-environment than populations within previous studies. Although, social work students reported the desire to learn more about environmental issues and felt as though it would help them become better social workers. Results also suggested social work students did not know where to find information on environmental issues and misconstrued information on environmental issues, whether or not they felt informed. It will be imperative to further develop the research on incorporating environmental justice into social work education through future pilot programs with student attitudes and cultures into consideration.

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Created

Date Created
2016

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Unveiling water (in) justice in Arequipa: a case study of mining industry in urban space

Description

Following harsh economic and political reforms in the 1990s, Peru became a model of a neoliberal state based on natural resource extraction. Since then social and environmental conflicts between local communities and the extractive industry, particularly mining corporations, have multiplied

Following harsh economic and political reforms in the 1990s, Peru became a model of a neoliberal state based on natural resource extraction. Since then social and environmental conflicts between local communities and the extractive industry, particularly mining corporations, have multiplied resulting in violent clashes and a shared perception that the state is not guaranteeing people's rights. At the crossroads of the struggle between mining corporations and local communities lay different ways of living and relating to nature. This research concerns water conflict in an urban mining setting. More precisely, this research critically analyzes water conflict in the city of Arequipa as a backdrop for revealing what water injustices look like on the ground. With one million inhabitants, Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru. Arequipa is also home to the third largest copper mine in Peru. On June 2006, social organizations and political authorities marched in protest of the copper mine's acquisition of additional water rights and its use of a tax exemption program. In the aftermath of large protests, the conflict was resolved through a multi-actor negotiation in which the mine became, through a public-private partnership, co-provider of urban water services. Through a unique interdisciplinary theoretical approach and grounded on ethnographic methods I attempt to expose the complexity of water injustice in this particular case. My theoretical framework is based on three large fields of study, that of post-colonial studies, political ecology and critical studies of law. By mapping state-society-nature power relations, analyzing structures of oppression and unpacking the meaning of water rights, my research unveils serious water injustices. My first research finding points to the existence of a racist and classist system that excludes poor and marginal people from water services and from accessing the city. Second, although there are different social and cultural interpretations of water rights, some interpretations hold more power and become hegemonic. Water injustice, in this regard manifests by the rise in power of the economic view of water rights. Finally, neoliberal reforms prioritizing development based on the extractive industries and the commodification of nature are conducive to water injustices.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2012

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Transportation cordon pricing in the San Francisco Bay Area: analyzing equity implications for low-income commuters

Description

Cordon pricing strategies attempt to charge motorists for the marginal social costs of driving in heavily congested areas, lure them out of their vehicles and into other modes, and thereby reduce vehicle miles traveled and congestion-related externalities. These strategies are

Cordon pricing strategies attempt to charge motorists for the marginal social costs of driving in heavily congested areas, lure them out of their vehicles and into other modes, and thereby reduce vehicle miles traveled and congestion-related externalities. These strategies are gaining policy-makers` attention worldwide. The benefits and costs of such strategies can potentially lead to a disproportionate and inequitable burden on lower income commuters, particularly those commuters with poor accessibility to alternative modes of transportation. Strategies designed to mitigate the impacts of cordon pricing for disadvantaged travelers, such as discount and exemptions, can reduce the effectiveness of the pricing strategy. Transit improvements using pricing fee revenues are another mitigation strategy, but can be wasteful and inefficient if not properly targeted toward those most disadvantaged and in need. This research examines these considerations and explores the implications for transportation planners working to balance goals of system effectiveness, efficiency, and equity. First, a theoretical conceptual model for analyzing the justice implications of cordon pricing is presented. Next, the Mobility Access and Pricing Study, a cordon pricing strategy examined by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority is analyzed utilizing a neighborhood-level accessibility-based approach. The fee-payment impacts for low-income transportation-disadvantaged commuters within the San Francisco Bay area are examined, utilizing Geographic Information Systems coupled with data from the Longitudinal Employment and Household Dynamics program of the US Census Bureau. This research questions whether the recommended blanket 50% discount for low-income travelers would unnecessarily reduce the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the cordon pricing system. It is proposed that reinvestment of revenue in transportation-improvement projects targeted at those most disproportionately impacted by tolling fees, low-income automobile-dependent peak-period commuters in areas with poor access to alternative modes, would be a more suitable mitigation strategy. This would not only help maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of the cordon pricing system, but would better address income, modal and spatial equity issues. The results of this study demonstrate how the spatial distribution of the toll-payment impacts may burden low-income residents in quite different ways, thereby warranting the inclusion of such analysis in transportation planning and practice.

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Date Created
2013

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Earthquake geology, hazard, urban form and social vulnerability along the San Andreas Fault

Description

The San Andreas Fault (SAF) is the primary structure within a system of faults accommodating motion between the North American and Pacific plates. Physical models of faulting and characterizations of seismic hazard are informed by investigations of paleoseismology, slip distribution,

The San Andreas Fault (SAF) is the primary structure within a system of faults accommodating motion between the North American and Pacific plates. Physical models of faulting and characterizations of seismic hazard are informed by investigations of paleoseismology, slip distribution, and slip rate. The impact of earthquakes on people is due in large part to social vulnerability. This dissertation contributes an analysis about the relationships between earthquake hazard and social vulnerability in Los Angeles, CA and investigations of paleoseismology and fault scarp array complexity on the central SAF. Analysis of fault scarp array geometry and morphology using 0.5 m digital elevation models along 122 km of the central SAF reveals significant variation in the complexity of SAF structure. Scarp trace complexity is measured by scarp separation, changes in strike, fault trace gaps, and scarp length per SAF kilometer. Geometrical complexity in fault scarp arrays indicates that the central SAF can be grouped into seven segments. Segment boundaries are controlled by interactions with subsidiary faults. Investigation of an offset channel at Parkfield, CA yields a late Holocene slip rate of 26.2 +6.4/- 4.3 mm/yr. This rate is lower than geologic measurements on the Carrizo section of the SAF and rates implied by far-field geodesy. However, it is consistent with historical observations of slip at Parkfield. Paleoseismology at Parkfield indicates that large earthquakes are absent from the stratigraphic record for at least a millennia. Together these observations imply that the amount of plate boundary slip accommodated by the main SAF varies along strike. Contrary to most environmental justice analyses showing that vulnerable populations are spatially-tied to environmental hazards, geospatial analyses relating social vulnerability and earthquake hazard in southern California show that these groups are not disproportionately exposed to the areas of greatest hazard. Instead, park and green space is linked to earthquake hazard through fault zone regulation. In Los Angeles, a parks poor city, the distribution of social vulnerability is strongly tied to a lack of park space. Thus, people with access to financial and political resources strive to live in neighborhoods with parks, even in the face of forewarned risk.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2011

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This is our land [untitled]: community-based environmental activism in the late twentieth century

Description

This dissertation examines the development of grassroots environmental organizations between 1970 and 2000 and the role they played in the larger American environmental movement and civil society during that period. Much has been written about growth in environmental values in

This dissertation examines the development of grassroots environmental organizations between 1970 and 2000 and the role they played in the larger American environmental movement and civil society during that period. Much has been written about growth in environmental values in the United States during the twentieth century and about the role of national environmental organizations in helping to pass landmark federal-level environmental laws during the 1960s and 1970s. This study illuminates a different story of how citizen activists worked to protect and improve the air, water, healthfulness and quality of life of where they lived. At the local level, activists looked much different than they did in Washington, D.C.--they tended to be volunteers without any formal training in environmental science or policy. They were also more likely to be women than at the national level. They tended to frame environmental issues and solutions in familiar ways that made sense to them. Rather than focusing on the science or economics of an environmental issue, they framed it in terms of fairness and justice and giving citizens a say in the decisions that affected their health and quality of life. And, as the regulatory, political, and social landscape changed around them, they adapted their strategies in their efforts to continue to affect environmental decision making. Over time, they often connected their local interests and issues with more sophisticated, globalized understandings of the economic and political systems that under laid environmental issues. This study examines three case studies in the rural Great Plains, urban Southwest, and small-town Appalachia between 1970 and 2000 in an attempt to understand community-based environmental activism in the late twentieth century, how it related to the national environmental movement, the strategies local-level groups employed and when and why, the role of liberal democratic arguments in their work and in group identity formation, the limits of those arguments, and how the groups, their strategies, and the activists themselves changed overtime. These three groups were the Northern Plains Resource Council in Montana, Southwest Environmental Service in Southern Arizona, and Save Our Cumberland Mountains in Eastern Tennessee.

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Created

Date Created
2012

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Integrating justice and fairness as a resolution to indigenous environmental harm

Description

Principles of climate mitigation in environmental ethics often draw on either considerations of fairness and forward-looking concerns, or on justice and backward-looking concerns. That is, according to some theorists, considerations of the current distribution of climate benefits and burdens are

Principles of climate mitigation in environmental ethics often draw on either considerations of fairness and forward-looking concerns, or on justice and backward-looking concerns. That is, according to some theorists, considerations of the current distribution of climate benefits and burdens are foremost, while others take repairing historic wrongs as paramount. Some theorists integrate considerations of fairness and justice to formulate hybrid climate principles. Such an integrative approach is promising particularly in the context of environmental harm to indigenous subsistence peoples, who are among those suffering the most from climate change. I argue that existing integrative climate principles tend not to sufficiently emphasize considerations of backward-looking justice. This is a problem for indigenous peoples seeking reparations for environmental harm and violations of their human rights. Specifically, indigenous people in the Arctic suffer a cultural harm from climate change as they lose their land, and their way of life, to erosion, cementing their status as climate refugees. I argue that the current climate situation facing Native Arctic people is unfair according to Rawls' second principle of justice. In addition, the situation is unjust as indigenous people suffer from emissions by others and few attempts are made for reparations. Thus, Rawlsian fairness combined with reparative justice provide a befitting theoretical framework. I conclude that an acceptable climate principle will adequately integrate considerations of both fairness and justice, both forward-looking and backward-looking considerations.

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Agent

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Date Created
2014

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Resisting displacement through culture and care: workplace immigration raids and the Loop 202 Freeway on Akimel O'odham land in Phoenix, Arizona, 2012-2014

Description

Low-income communities of color in the U.S. today are often vulnerable to displacement, forced relocation away from the places they call home. Displacement takes many forms, including immigration enforcement, mass incarceration, gentrification, and unwanted development. This dissertation juxtaposes two different

Low-income communities of color in the U.S. today are often vulnerable to displacement, forced relocation away from the places they call home. Displacement takes many forms, including immigration enforcement, mass incarceration, gentrification, and unwanted development. This dissertation juxtaposes two different examples of displacement, emphasizing similarities in lived experiences. Mixed methods including document-based research, map-making, visual ethnography, participant observation, and interviews were used to examine two case studies in Phoenix, Arizona: (1) workplace immigration raids, which overwhelmingly target Latino migrant workers; and (2) the Loop 202 freeway, which would disproportionately impact Akimel O'odham land. Drawing on critical geography, critical ethnic studies, feminist theory, carceral studies, and decolonial theory, this research considers: the social, economic, and political causes of displacement, its impact on the cultural and social meanings of space, the everyday practices that allow people to survive economically and emotionally, and the strategies used to organize against relocation.

Although raids are often represented as momentary spectacles of danger and containment, from a worker's perspective, raids are long trajectories through multiple sites of domination. Raids' racial geographies reinforce urban segregation, while traumatization in carceral space reduces the power of Latino migrants in the workplace. Expressions of care among raided workers and others in jail and detention make carceral spaces more livable, and contribute to movement building and abolitionist sentiments outside detention.

The Loop 202 would result in a loss of native land and sovereignty, including clean air and a mountain sacred to O'odham people. While the proposal originated with corporate desire for a transnational trade corridor, it has been sustained by local industry, the perceived inevitability of development, and colonial narratives about native people and land. O'odham artists, mothers, and elders counter the freeway's colonial logics through stories that emphasize balance, collective care over individual profit, and historical consciousness.

Both raids and the freeway have been contested by local grassroots movements. Through political education, base-building, advocacy, lawsuits, and protest strategies, community organizations have achieved changes in state practice. These movements have also worked to create alternative spaces of safety and home, rooted in interpersonal care and Latino and O'odham culture.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2014