A Review of Stakeholder Feedback and Indicator Analysis for the Maryland Environmental Justice Screening Tool
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Background: A wealth of research has shown that communities of color and low-income populations have been disproportionately burdened by environmental hazards and locally unwanted land uses (LULUs) including incinerators, power plants, landfills, and other pollution- intensive facilities. Unfortunately, the State of Maryland has made little progress in constructing tools to assess and address environmental injustice and related health issues. The National Center for Smart Growth has begun developing a new mapping tool for Maryland—Maryland EJSCREEN—that highlights the prevalence and frequency of environmental hazards and LULUs and their health risks for nearby populations. Goal: The long-term goal is to use this tool to highlight areas with environmental justice issues and areas that need additional investments. The tool should be used in permitting, regulatory, zoning, and development decisions. Objectives: This project’s objectives are to collect information on environmental, social, economic, exposure, and health indicators that should be included in the Maryland EJSCREEN tool; obtain feedback from stakeholder groups on indicators that should be included in the tool and prioritized; and demonstrate the utility of the EJSCREEN tool. Approach: In collaboration with the Partnership in Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS), we performed a literature review of economic, social, environmental, exposure, and health indicators identified as important by several Prince George’s County community members and stakeholders in a series of demonstration workshops. Stakeholders included residents from the Port Towns, Environmental Action Council members, the Environmental Justice legislative team, and the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities. Flashcards, posters, and surveys were distributed to community members and stakeholders to gather valued feedback about necessary indicators that were acceptable to be highlighted in Maryland EJSCREEN. Results: We found that the demonstration workshops were effective in soliciting feedback from residents, advocates, health practitioners, policymakers, and other stakeholder groups. Importance to Public Health: This tool can be used by local residents to advocate for new policies, better enforcement, and public health improvements. It can also be used by government officials to build healthier, greener, more equitable, and more sustainable communities.
Final project (Fall 2017-Spring 2018). University of Maryland, College Park.