Mini Atlas of Environmental Justice in Minneapolis, MN

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Mini Atlas of Environmental Justice in Minneapolis, MN
Steger, Andrew
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Denver, CO
University of Colorado Denver
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This atlas seeks to ask one question: "Is there evidence of disadvantaged communities in Minneapolis, MN bearing disproportionate environmental burden?" In light of the history and more recent findings regarding the subject, it visually explores (as well as informs) the community at large about potential issues regarding environmental justice in the area. Specifically, Superfund sites, Brownfield sites, and geolocated 311 data are explored in light of the city's demographics.
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Analyzing Environmental Justice in Minneapolis, MN: A Cartographic Approach By Andrew Steger Introduction The environmental justice (EJ) movement has been slowly gaining momentum, especially since 1994 with Executive Order 12898, which requires every federal agency to achieve EJ in regards to low income and minority populations (Cutter, 1995). EJ refers to pr ocedural and distributive environmental inequities among differing social groups. Minneapolis in the past has experienced environmental justice issues, including elevated particulate matter and heavy metals in predominantly African American neighborhoods (Hyvonen, 2017). This mini atlas inquires about more present times. Specifically, the research question asks, Methods In this project, we explored t he research question through both cartography and spatial statistics. EJ can be measured and researched in many diverse ways. Researchers have mapped and regressed pollution surfaces , su ch as ozone and PM10 (Pope et. a l., 2016), examined the locations to xic waste facilities ( Cutter et al., 1996), and used case studies to examine both distributional as well as procedural environmental justice (Lake, 1996) among others. In this light, my approach decided to both visually explore and run spatial statistics to understand where disadvantaged populations live within the city, where toxic sites (such as superfund sites and brownfield sites) are located, and where environmentally related complaints are lodged to see if these factors are related. This mini atlas is geared towards a general audience consisting of EJ advocates, pol icymakers, and concerned citizens. The data consists of state boundaries and roads files from the USGS, a roads file from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, 2017 census data from the American Community Survey, census block group spatial informa tion for the U.S. Census Bureau, remediation sites from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and public 311 data from the City of Minneapolis. The cartography was performed with a combination of QGIS 3.4.1 and Adobe Illustrator. Prior to making the ma ps, the census attribute data was joined to the spatial shapefiles. Many cartographic techniques were performed. In particular, the inverted polygons technique in combination with draw effects was used to create good figure ground organization. The shap eburst fill (with a transparent center) for community boundaries was also used to help with visual contrast and hierarchical organization. The mini atlas consists of six maps. The first is a reference map that orients the viewer to the locations of the c ommunities within the city in relation to the major interstates and each other. The second looks at the distribution of minority and economically disadvantaged populations and asks if there is statistically significant clustering of these populations with in the


consists of multiplying the percentage minority by the percent of the population below the poverty line for each census block group. Map 3 relates the DI to s uperfund s ites, Map 4 relates the DI to 311 complaints (citizen complaints lodged with the city) regarding chemical spills and emergency pollution, and Map 5 relates the DI to 311 complaints regarding illegal dumping. The final map is a heatmap to vi sualize the density of brownfield sites within the city. The diversity in map/visualization types, data types, and statistical analyses was intended to give a more holistic view of environmental justice within Minneapolis, though a complete view of distri butive justice is beyond the scope of the mini atlas. Results We see that the city of Minneapolis is divided into 11 official communities. Visually, we notice that a high proportion of disadvantaged people live in the Camden, Near North, Phillips, and University communities (Map 2). Camden, Near North, and Phillips are associated with both a high minority population and high percentage of people living below the poverty line. The University community has a high percentage of people living below the p overty line, but much lower percentages of minority populations. When looking at each variable separately, above 0.35 for both variables. When vis ualizing the DI, we broke the data up into 5 bins, 0 60, 60 168, 168 699, 699 1948, and 1948 6048, based on quantile classification. If we assume that the total area for each bin is approximately the same, we notice that the number of s uperfund s ites steadily increases with an increasing DI (Map 3). We can see that the communities with an especially low DI (like Southwest and Nokomis) in the southern part of the city have or have had remarkably few Superfund Sites (less than 5 total). Compare t hat to almost 20 for the highest DI bin. The 311 complaints do not always have as clear of a relationship. Regarding chemical spills, we see few complaints in the Southwest and Nokomis communities (Map 4), but we also see few complaints in the Universit y and Phillips communities. In general , as DI increases, so do chemical spill complaints (standardized for population). We also see that the number of complaints ha s decreased between 2014 and 2018 for the highest DI bins (6.33 to 4.21 complaints per 100 ,000 residents for block groups with a DI between 699 and 1948, and 6.95 to 3.97 complaints for blocks with a DI greater than 1948). This could possibly suggest increasing equality during this time period, especially since block groups with a lower DI eit her increased in the number of complaints or stayed constant. More data would help to substantiate this claim. Regarding emergency pollution complaints, there appears to not be any correlation. The number of pollution complaints per capita did not show any trends, as block groups with the lowest, middle, and highest DIs all tended to show high numbers of complaints. The block groups in between these (with a DI of 60 168 and 699 1948) had low numbers of complaints per capita. The one set of 311 data that does show a consistent trend are the illegal dumping complaints. Not only is illegal dumping unsightly, it is also an environmental health hazard as improperly discarded garbage can expose people to unwanted dangers. The heatmap shows a


hi gh density of complaints right over areas with a high DI in the northeastern part of Minneapolis and in the Phillips community (Map 5). When looking at the number of illegal dumping complaints per 100,000 residents, it also stead i ly increases with an incr easing DI. For block groups with a DI less than 60, there were 84.2 complaints per 100,000 residents, while for block groups with a DI greater than 1948, there were 306. A similar heatmap also allows us to visualize brownfield density within Minneapolis. or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous (Environmental Protection Agency , 2019), are not randomly distributed across the city (Map 6). The highest density of brownfields occur s in the Central, University, and Phillips communities. Here there are 106 brownfields sites per square mile, 79 brownfield sites per square mile, and 50 brownfield sites per square mile respectively. Discussion In regards to the research question, it is safe to say that disadvantaged communities in bear a greater burden in all ways however. Disadvantaged citizens are stil l living in communities isolated from more affluent ones. Regarding past and present s uperfund sites, sites of illegal dumping, and brownfield sites, minority and low income citizens have a greater environmental burden . Regarding the locations of emergenc y pollution incidents and chemical spills , the pattern is not as clear. We must also not e the limitations of the study. In visual analysis, differing human s on ly a snapshot of two years of data. Map 5 may be inf luenced by the lack of data beyond the city limit boundaries; and we must be wary of confounding fact ors on Map 6. For this map , we must remember that there will almost always be a higher density of brownfields in areas with a this map will still give insig ht into potential exposure to hazardous sites. The fact that the atlas shows examples of environmental injustice in some ways, and environmental justice in others presents difficulty in conveying information to the intended audience (policy makers, EJ adv ocates, and citizens). A policy maker would have difficulty coming to one single conclusion about EJ in the city. Likewise, an advocate would have problems happening on a ll accounts. I believe this to be a good thing, as it encourages an honest conversation that could lead to a more nuanced approach to combating EJ issues. The cartographic medium is a great way to both research and convey these nuances. The colors and symbols in the maps, paired with the charts and narrative, provide multiple means of communication and exploration for an audience as diverse as thi s one. Conclusion


This visual study was intended to be just a small pilot to research EJ in Minneapolis. It has been enough however to warrant future consideration and exploration of the issue. I recommend continuing the study, with the DI framework, t o investigate interpolated pollution surfaces (especially ozone and PM10), as well as access to desirable environmental benefits (such as parks and clean water ). This will provide a more complete distributive EJ picture.


Research Paper References Cutter, S. L., Holm, D., & Clark, L. (1996). The Role of Geographic Scale in Monitoring Environmental Justice. Risk Analysis, 16(4), 517 526. doi: 10.1111/j.1539 6924.1996.tb01097.x Cutter, S. (1995). Race, class and environmental justice. Progress in Human Geography, 19(1), 111 122. doi: 10.1177/030913259501900111 Retrieved October 31, 2019, from epas brownfields program . Hyvonen, J. (2017, October 1). Environmental Justice in North Minneapolis. Retrieved October 10, 2019, from justice in north minneapolis/. Lake, R. W. (1996). VOLUNTEERS, NIMBYs, AN D ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE: DILEMMAS OF DEMOCRATIC PRACTICE. Antipode, 28(2), 160 174. doi: 10.1111/j.1467 8330.1996.tb00520.x Pope, R., Wu, J., & Boone, C. (2016). Spatial patterns of air pollutants and social groups: a distributive environmental justice stu dy in the phoenix metropolitan region of USA. Environmental Management, 58(5), 753 766. doi: 10.1007/s00267 016 0741 z