In 2014 the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) released CalEnviroScreen 2.0, developed to identify communities facing “multiple burdens of pollution and socioeconomic disadvantage” (CalEnviroScreen FAQs, 2016). Contemporaneously, California was suffering a severe drought. CalEPA implemented emergency water cutbacks such that community allowances ranged from approximately 70%–430% of the U.S. average for water consumption. Decades of research find that racial and ethnic minorities face greater environmental burdens than others. Did the CalEPA cutbacks disproportionately affect already burdened communities or those with higher percentages of minorities? Using geographic information systems and spatial regression analysis, we find that the water cutbacks did not, ceteris paribus, further stress already burdened communities, but communities with a more significant percentage of Hispanics are estimated to receive lower water allowances even controlling for poverty. This research broadens the areas in which we can look for environmental (in)justice beyond standard dis/amenities, and implies that even intra-organizational policy goals of reducing environmental justice burdens may not be enough.
- regional governance
- urban studies