Natural Disasters, Extreme Events, Environmental Justice, and Decentralized Approaches
Funded by the ASU President’s Strategic Initiative Fund at Arizona State University, my collaborators and I extend my larger research to investigate whether and how decentralized approaches in environmental and natural resource management involving the private sector and markets could be effectively leveraged and designed to help socially vulnerable communities respond to, recover from, and prepare for increasingly more frequent occurrences of extreme events.
This research seeks answers to the following questions:
What are the direct and indirect impacts of extreme events on local energy systems and related infrastructure in socially vulnerable communities?
What are the economic and political drivers of collaboration between the private sector and regulators across local, state, and federal levels in optimizing existing or planned energy systems and infrastructures?
How can public policies and private-public partnerships be better designed to incentivize and increase investments in low-carbon energy systems in vulnerable communities?
One of my doctoral students and I recently published an article in Journal of Environmental Management, which finds that during the 2020 wildfire season, wildfires exacerbated COVID-19 infections and deaths in California by depleting the already scarce public and private healthcare and housing resources, notably in communities exhibiting high social vulnerability.
In another project, ASU colleagues (Danae Hernandez-Cortez, Diana Bowman) and I are in the process of developing a methodology for quantifying the equity impacts of transport infrastructure policies in low income and minority communities where traditionally benefit-cost analyses of infrastructural projects have emphasized cost minimization and economic efficiency.
Invited by the U.S. Department of Transportation for a second-round review, this latter project is part of a proposal, of which I am a co-PI, to create a University Transportation Center, along with sustainability, engineering, and law colleagues at ASU, UCLA, and Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.