U.S. Environmental Justice Challenges in the Pursuit of a Low-Carbon Energy Future

103 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2022

See all articles by John Byrne

John Byrne

Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP), University of Delaware

Job Taminiau

Foundation for Renewable Energy & Environment

Daniel Cristinzio

University of Delaware

Dharni Grover

University of Delaware; Foundation for Renewable Energy and Environment

Daniel Sanchez Carretero

University of Delaware

Date Written: October 1, 2022

Abstract

This report brings into focus the cumulative environmental, social, energy, economic, and climate change related risks borne by local communities and identifies potential strategies to alleviate the burdens these risks impose. The cumulative risk profile discussed in this report is based on best practices conducted in leading states across the country and also adopted by the U.S. federal government. In particular, we evaluate a series of environmental, economic, and social indicators at the U.S. Census block group level that, combined, present a cumulative risk profile and display the inequities present among local communities. The indicators are derived from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of California. To deepen our understanding of the pervasive inequities among local communities, we overlay the cumulative risk profile with community-level participation in the solar energy market. Policies that advance the solar energy market can learn from the overlap between indicators of injustice and existing solar energy market distributions.

We apply the term ‘low-carbon planning for all’ to frame the research included in this report. This approach contextualizes the ongoing renewable energy transition as communities with the least means are typically unable to fully participate in the society-wide transformation of the energy system and, as a result, are commonly denied several of the benefits that accrue from the switch to sustainable energy. To assess the possible benefits of a strategy of low-carbon planning for all, this report first structures the identification and classification processes available to characterize community vulnerabilities and needs. To gain understanding of cumulative risk profiles and their potential interactions with existing solar energy markets, we apply a case study assessment of the state of Delaware by mapping the state’s communities at the U.S. Census block group level. Our analysis produces, among others, a geospatial overview of Delaware’s cumulative risk profile. Our findings suggest the distribution of these communities are geospatially concentrated in a few parts of Delaware.

Suggested Citation

Byrne, John and Taminiau, Job and Cristinzio, Daniel and Grover, Dharni and Sanchez Carretero, Daniel, U.S. Environmental Justice Challenges in the Pursuit of a Low-Carbon Energy Future (October 1, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4237862 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4237862

John Byrne

Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP), University of Delaware ( email )

278 Graham Hall
Newark, DE 19716
United States

Job Taminiau (Contact Author)

Foundation for Renewable Energy & Environment ( email )

630 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10111
United States

HOME PAGE: http://freefutures.org

Daniel Cristinzio

University of Delaware ( email )

Newark, DE 19711
United States

Dharni Grover

University of Delaware ( email )

Foundation for Renewable Energy and Environment ( email )

Daniel Sanchez Carretero

University of Delaware ( email )

Newark, DE 19711
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Downloads
44
Abstract Views
348
PlumX Metrics