The Environmental Resilience Institute and the Integrated Program in the Environment teamed up in fall 2020 to present a series of lunch-hour talks centered on environmental and climate resilience issues.
2020 Environmental Resilience Speaker Series
Denise Abdul-Rahman - September 4, 2020
Description of the video:>> Welcome, everyone to the first event in this fall Environmental Resilience Speaker Series jointly presented by Indiana University's Integrated Program in the Environment and the Environmental Resilience Institute. I am Sarah Mincey. I'm the director of the Integrated Program in the Environment, and I'm joined by Janet McCabe, who's also cohosting today.
Janet's the director for the Environmental Resilience Institute.
>> Hi everyone.
>> So we're so pleased that you're able to join us today. Making lemonade out of lemons has gotten to be routine with most of us these days, and this virtual speaker series is the latest frosty glass. One upside is that more people can join us though in this way.
So people who would not have been able to physically come to Bloomington, we're happy to have you on the call. That means our speakers can reach more people. And we urge you if you enjoy today's presentation to let your friends and your family know so they can join next time.
We have a great lineup of speakers throughout the fall who will speak on a range of interesting topics in a format that will allow, we hope, for interaction with the speakers and an opportunity for interdisciplinary dialogue. Both the Integrated Program in the Environment and the Environmental Resilience Institute are founded on the understanding that interdisciplinary learning and research are essential to teach today's scholars and to solve today's problems, not to mention tomorrow's.
The natural and social sciences, the humanities, and the arts are all critical and in play as we tackle climate change and the environmental challenges that are affecting our health and our communities and our economy here in Bloomington and around the world. Even the pandemic, a global public health crisis is connected to how we are using and abusing the world's resources as we push humans and animals closer together through deforestation, drought, and flood, enabling the spread of diseases, as we've seen in the case of COVID-19.
I wanna share just a little bit with you about the Integrated Program in the Environment. IPE was founded in 2012 under the auspices of the provost and the leadership of the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Public Health.
And we bring together all of the environmental and sustainability scholarship across the various schools and departments on the Bloomington campus. IPE is made up of over 120 faculty and nearly 1,000 students studying the environment from all disciplines, the sciences, the arts, and the humanities, across more than 25 different degree programs.
So we're really excited to be a part of this speaker series that can reach these faculty and students, as well as the general public. Janet, you wanna say a few words about ERI and move on our speaker.
>> All right, I would like to thank Sarah. ERI is a little bit younger than IPE.
We were founded in 2017 as part of the IU Grand Challenge, Prepared for Environmental Change. And there you can see our little house there on the corner of Park Street where nobody goes anymore, but we hope we will some time. Our mission is to enhance resilience to environmental change and climate change in Indiana and beyond by accurately predicting impacts and effectively partnering with communities to implement feasible, equitable, and research-informed solutions.
Sarah and I wanna thank, well, I wanna thank the people who put this series together, Sarah being one of them, and also Adam Fudickar, who is a fellow with the Environmental Resilience Institute. And also, I wanna thank Mariana Cains, a recent PhD recipient from the O'Neill school, who's worked with us on a number of projects.
I think they've done just an excellent job of finding a range of speakers on different topics for this fall series. And as Sarah said, we're needing to find good things to spend our time on and keep learning and keep interacting as we deal with COVID here. In particular, our speakers this fall are gonna be speaking on a number of issues relevant to topics of systemic racial inequity, environmental injustice, and the need for a just transition to a future that's healthy and safe for all people, not just those who've been privileged by centuries of inequitable systems and societies.
So you'll be able to find information about each talk on the ERI and IPE web pages and in our regular newsletters. Here's the information from ERI of how to get to us. Here's the information for IPE and how to get to them. We really do encourage you to sign up for our newsletters, because in addition to information about this series, there's lots of other great stuff going on at IU that I'm sure you wanna know about.
And I wanna say too that if you have ideas for us for good speakers, either inside or outside the university, you'll see that flipping back here, that these remaining speakers are all from inside, but our kickoff speaker is not. So we'd love to have people from inside or outside the university.
Please get in touch with one of us, Sarah, me, Adam, anybody at one of our organizations. I need to do a few obligatory logistical details. Everybody's screen and audio are muted. Sadly, I understand there's been an increase in inappropriate behavior on IU Zoom calls. So we wanna make sure that we can focus on our speaker, not be distracted.
We do want you to send us your questions though. So please put them in the chat room. And I'm a big believer in putting them in as soon as you think of them so that you don't spend the rest of the talk trying to remember what question you wanted to ask.
And Sarah and I and the other moderators will monitor throughout the talk and then we can provide them to Denise at the end. So with that, I think that I am ready to introduce our first speaker for the speaker series. And I'm lucky enough to know Denise personally.
So I will tell you all the wonderful things about her, but really, I wanna introduce you to her as a person who I know and have worked with. She's a staff member at the NAACP environmental justice program. She's the regional field organizer not just for Indiana, but for the entire Midwest and Plains states.
The three objectives of her program are to reduce harmful emissions, to clean greenhouse gases, advance energy efficiency and clean energy, and strengthen community resilience and livability. She holds a BS in management, an MBA in healthcare management, and a health informatics designation from the IU School of Informatics. So even though she's not an employee right now, she has plenty of connections with IU.
Denise has led many advocacy campaigns at the state house, at the federal level, and in our communities. One in particular I'll mention is her work to lead a contingent that was crucial to the defeat of House Bill 1320. Which was a bill that sought to depict a narrative that solar energy was unfair to people of color and African-Americans.
And therefore, would impose a fee to distribute energy across the grid that should be enforced to make it fair for all. She has a keen eye for irony, and misinformation, and disinformation, and calling it out when she sees it. The Just Energy campaign of what she was apart solidified the defeat, and the victory got national attention with the LA Times of Bloomberg News.
She's had the privilege to speak and work with various academic institutions. She currently serves on the Midwest Renewable Energy Association Board of Directors. She was a delegate to the Paris meeting of the Parties at 21. She was a delegate to Global Climate Action Summit. She's former vice chair of the Indianapolis Air Pollution Control Board.
And she was an advisor, or is an advisor for the Indianapolis Thrive Climate Action Plan. And she and I served together on the Indiana State Department of Health Children's Lead Poisoning Advisory Council. I've known her for many years, and can personally attest to her fierce, and unrelenting advocacy for African Americans, and environmental justice for those who are so often denied it.
She's received much recognition for her work. A few noteworthy recognitions are faith based Reverend Moses Sanders Drum Major for Humanity's Award 2020, which has got to be one of the greatest award names of all times. Who wouldn't wanna get the Drum Major for Humanities Award? The Indiana University Robert McKinney School of Law Environmental Protector Award in 2019, and the NAACP, Indiana Hazel B Hunter Award also in 2019.
So all of this is a testament to Denise's commitment and accomplishments. But what I picture when I think of her work is her engagement with real people in real communities dealing with real injustices. Being clear, consistent and insistent about the need to address environmental justice, and bring fairness to African Americans.
This is what really matters, and she knows that. So please welcome Denise Abdul-Rahman.
>> Thank you so much, Janet. It's quite a humbling and an honor to be introduced by you with your stellar background, and also an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Environmental Resilience Institute.
So I really appreciate all of those that have provided this invitation for me to present to the school, and I look forward to all the ways that we can create a radical and transformative change in Indiana, the Midwest, the nation, and the globe. So I'll just go ahead into my presentation, which, the basic agenda is for me to just come to you in my own way.
I am basically practitioner in this body of work to give some cultural grounding and framing around the healing justice, the trauma of climate calamity. To give a frame around African descendants, and our just transition, the just transition framework, environmental and climate justice. Our goals and objectives to talk about equitable climate adaptation indicators, and the national climate of the Midwest.
And to also talk about differential building, and vision, and what all can be done. So coming in my own way, I come from a mother who started the very first head start in Lafayette, Indiana. She was a woman's right activist that traveled to Beijing, China at the same time as Hillary Rodham Clinton fighting for the rights of the Chinese women and other women around the globe, and she taught self-care to young women of HBCUs.
My big momma picture below, March for Jobs for Justice, which, that has historic day has just recently passed, August the 28th. She went in 1963 during Dr. King's I Have a Dream speech. She also started her own fabric business, served on the multicultural board at Purdue. And she was a woman that advocated for married women to be able to get a mortgage, because at that time, married women were not allowed to get a mortgage on their own.
And then my father, a stark civil rights advocate in his own right, went to the National Black political convention in Gary, under the leadership of Mayor Gary Hatchard. And my father fought to have the first African American Vietnam veteran that was killed in Lafayette, Dennis Burton, to assure that his name was placed on some building or some facility.
And I wanna in that same kinda context, take just one moment to really lift up the names of Daniel Purdue, Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, and so many more that have gone by that have been murdered during this time, and not receiving equity in 2020. And then I myself I have marched in the first Women's March.
I spoke at the UN, Women in New York on gender, women and climate change and marched in the streets. The Conference of Parties, where there were 15,000 of us in the streets, and did a Black Lives Matter action in the at that time in Paris, France. I gained a global perspective at that time, connecting with many people around the world, and even meeting woman from Palestine that shared how the women there are not taught how to drive, and that they're not allowed to learn how to swim, and so on.
They have the highest mortality when flooding occurs there. And speaking with people from Sudan who are having basically war, even at this time over water. One, the northerners in the continent of Africa want to water their camels, while Sudanese are wanting the water to live for human life and for vegetation.
So from the perspective again of African descendants, seeking adjust transition. We've been seeking adjust transition for over 401 years. We've been traveled across the transatlantic slave trade, over 12 million of us. Our people were enslaved and we endured the African descendant holocaust, i.e., the strange fruit. We've survived the Jim Crow Segregation.
We've in the midst still in the impacts of redlining, where our communities are divided up and living in older housing stock. We endured the war on drugs, as termed by Michelle Alexander, as a term in The New Jim Crow, that was instrumental in the mass incarceration of many of our black and brown bodies that we call AKA James Crow.
And that the calculating of seats by the time our children are in third grade, to be placed into the school to prison pipeline. Many of our communities are over policed. Our educational systems are under resourced. And blighted and dilapidated housing, old housing stock, outdated combined sewage overflow systems.
We live in full apartheid conditions, unequitable greenery and lacking aesthetics. We are many times underemployed and unemployed. We are the essential workers, identified at this time, that are being disproportionately impacted by this pandemic or COVID-19. Or as the urban streets have named her Rona, nickname, Rona. We are the holsters of many of the polluting systems, such as fossil fuels and vehicle emissions.
And we are most disproportionately impacted by the impacts of climate. And continuing with the vein of our enslavement, one of the first people I think that may have been environmental justice advocate or freedom fighter would be Harriet Tubman. She knew to follow the stars and follow them north, and she was familiar with the woods and the marshes of the region.
And she looked at the moss and learned that moss grew on the north side, and that is the way to go to freedom. And so identifying her is a potential first environmental justice advocate for people of African descent. And also someone that should be on the $20 bill.
So we operate pretty much at the national level and share with our members the just transition frame. And this just transition frame was developed by the movement generation with the Our Power Campaign, which the NAACP a member. And this strategic framework talks about how we should resist, we should rethink, and we should restructure our systems.
It identifies the extractive economy and everything that takes from our communities. And we identify that as basically trying to stop that bad. And how we want to move toward building the new, to what we call the living economy or regenerative economy. This framework wants to shift economic control to the communities.
This would be this radical, transformative way of being to resolve the impacts of inequity and climate calamity. To democratize the wealth and the workplace, to advance ecological restoration, and to drive racial justice and social equity. To re-localize most of the food production and consumption, and to retain, restore cultures and traditions.
So the NAACP program, we do this, we've identified environmental injustices, that including climate change, do have a disproportionate impact on communities of color and low income communities, in the United States and around the world. The NAACP Environmental Justice program was created to provide resources and support to community leadership in addressing this human and civil rights issue by advocating for three objectives.
We wanna reduce harmful emissions, particularly greenhouse gases. And we combine that action on shutting down coal plants and other toxic facilities at the local level. As well as building new toxic facilities, as well as stopping the building of new toxic facilities. With advocacy to strengthen the development and monitoring and enforcement of regulations at federal, state, and local levels.
Also, it includes a focus on making corporations responsible and accountable. And this is an action that we did opposing in Indianapolis Power & Light, asking them to retire the coal fired power plant by 2016. This was before masks were seemingly required, because we identified ourselves as unable to breathe.
We infuse art with our young people to be involved and to simply depict how these polluting systems are impacting them. And how they, in fact, want energy democracy, energy justice. We advance energy efficiency and clean energy. We work at the state level on campaigns to pass renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.
While simultaneously working at the local level with small businesses and unions and others on developing demonstration projects. To ensure that communities of color are accessing revenue generation opportunities in the new energy economy. While providing safer, more sustainable mechanisms for managing energy needs for our communities and beyond. And we strengthen our communities resilience and livability.
We work to ensure that communities are equipped to engage in sustainability and climate action planning. And that they integrate policies and practices that are advancing food justice, that are advocating for transportation equity, that uphold civil and human rights in emergency management, and that facilitate democracy. And here is actually my brother who's a star fisherman, and I dare not tell him that the fish that he's pulling out of the Wabash River in Lafayette, Indiana may have mercury.
And other pollutants. Now I just wanna give some examples across the nation and here in Indiana, of some of the work that is being moved to create this transformation to create this differential building. That that will help to mitigate climate impacts, that will help communities to be adaptive, and that will also transform and move equity and climate resiliency at the same time.
Here pictured is President Dedric Doolin, the NAACP Cedar Rapids in Iowa, and he is working on plans to deploy solar on the Mount Zion Baptist Church. You can see pictured here the solar panels, so they've already had a solar audit. And then at the same time, they just endured a horrific tornado, which this very same church was obliterated in many ways.
And so now, we're looking to see how we can incorporate building this much better and much more sustainable since they've endured that tornado. And we have president Danielle Sydnor who is the NAACP, president of Cleveland. And she has been fighting, they high levels of ozone and particulate matter there.
And she spoke out about how asthma hits black people particularly hard, and that the health care system often fails them. And that there's an estimated 15.3% of black children that have the disease of asthma compared to 7.1 of their white counterparts, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
And overall, African Americans are nearly three times as likely to die from asthma than white people. And here we have President Teresa Haley who is at the state conference of Illinois and she has been fighting to shut down the Dallman Coal Plant. She worked with the city council and other leaders in the environmental movement to get them to commit to shutting down many of the units of this plant.
She herself is an asthma sufferer. She's also fought for electric vehicle buses via the Volkswagon system. She wants children to ride on clean buses without being impacted by diesel fuel. And she advocates for the training of young people with energy efficiency. And here we have Mr. Tavian Moore who's the NAACP youth leader in Grand Rapids.
And there you can see that they're creating food resilience for them. And he says that many facets to the environmental justice goes hand in hand with food sovereignty. And leading a sustainable lifestyle by growing your own food cuts down on food costs and shipping waste and fuel consumption associated with the produce transportation and many other environmental issues.
Not only is this gardening is rewarding and therapeutic for the mind and body. And the greater Grand Rapids youth also partner with the Thomas Street Garden to start this Garden for the Youth. And it's located in a predominantly black and brown neighborhood on the southeast side of Grand Rapids.
A neighborhood that has historically been under resourced and overlooked by community based initiatives. So not only has this garden provided a green space for youth to interact with their environment in an urban setting. It has started a meaningful conversation about health disparities and linked to poor diet in black and brown communities.
And that their overall goal is to educate the public on the statistics and shed lights on the disparities and actively work to find the solutions to the problems. And next we have what we just recently did here in Indiana with President Gerald Arnold of the NAACP Evansville vicinity which identified the first NAACP Indiana solar.
That was deployed on the greater St. James Community Recreation Center and Education Center. And also deployed the first what we call the Powerup Solar and Jobs Cohort. Now our national office, we have deployed this first started with the Rosemary Lydell, President of the Rocky Mountain Conference. Her pilot was with formerly incarcerated persons, and they deployed solar in Colorado Springs.
There was a second initiative that was done in Compton, California. And that was on a domestic violence center with domestic violence survivors. And they were trained and deployed solar there as well. We've done work around there Our Youth Scientists, particularly in East Chicago, Indiana, where it's 95%, black and LatinX.
They were hosting 91,000 parts per billion of lead toxicity. Their close proximity to Calumet River that once was one of the most polluted rivers in the nation. And these children are hosting a legacy of lead over 40 years. There was a major crisis there, considered a disaster. People were displaced from their housing and their water later became contaminated.
So we did a training with children at two schools, one Joseph Block Middle School, the other the Urban Enterprise. And we helped the children to, we send them home with little makeshift caskets that said, hey get a water bottle and get some water out of your faucet. Here's a cotton square, dust something in your house and put that in this baggie along with the water bottle.
And here's a little tiny baggie, go ahead and get some soil out of your yard with your parents' permission. And put that in the baggie and bring it to your classroom and label would have their name and everything on it. And we partnered with academia to have them test it.
And to have a conversation with children, they had to present their findings and they had to present in front of everyone. and they also were given some journalism skills. Being told that they can tell their own stories on what was happening with them. And I just wanna point out, Mr. Coleman's no longer with us, the Science Guy there, but he dressed up for the whole part, and we really appreciate him as a science teacher.
And here we have here Akeesha Daniels, who's a survivor of the West Calumet Lead & Arsenic poisoning. Which I, I don't know if I mentioned it, it was a superfund site, three superfund site, three zones of what they call superfund site. And it's still being remediated as we speak, and still many challenges, but we provided another platform for her in which to speak out.
We created a whole report, and we did roundtables and listening sessions, and we brought in stakeholders including the US EPA, the Housing and Civil Rights Commission. We brought in folks from Flint that had experience of lead poisoning, and we just simply listened. And then we created the Chicago Toxic Crisis Report for them to implement many of their solutions.
We also provided where we got our food absorbs lead, so we brought in fresh fruits and vegetables to try to slow up the impact of lead in the blood system. We partnered with some of the local stores there. We partnered with the churches there. We delivered, deployed water filtration systems to that community, as well as with bottled water, and other ways in which we could collectively move with them for their resilience and resistance.
Our Gary branch is working on climate action planning led by Lori Latham. And Latonya Troutman is with the Michigan City branch. They have been working on their own Community Climate Action Plan, which they would want to present to the city of Gary at some point in time, and for consideration.
Ideally, infusing equity, and infusing the resource tools that the NAACP has to offer. This is our Gary member through the Indiana State Conference, Attorney James Brandon-Williams as we stood on the streets of Indianapolis on Martin Luther King Boulevard. And we called for clean energy, community solar, and how our communities are impacted by polluting systems.
And we call it the THIS IS US campaign. We have our members of the Indianapolis branch, Miss Elizabeth Gore and Mr. Gary Howlin, who have been working for clean water in the school systems of Indianapolis to assure that they are lead free. And also, Miss Gore or the Martindale Brightwood Collaborative, and also a member of the NAACP Indianapolis chapter who has been overseeing the remediation by the US EPA in that area of Martindale Brightwood, and helping to educate her community on how to be resilient to the impacts of lead.
And President of Greater Lafayette branch called for equity in the Climate Action Planning there. We've worked on energy efficiency at the state level, calling for mandatory energy efficiency the Senate Bill 412. We've had roundtables with the governor, and we've spoken out the 21st Century Energy Policy Taskforce. And we asked for the governor to have an environmental justice expert on that 21st Century Energy Policy Taskforce.
That did not happen, but we still presented our information both to him, and presented our information to that taskforce. And some of the things that are called for, everything from resiliency hubs, to community owned solar, to more energy efficiency, because much of the housing stock is is old and needs weatherization, and so forth.
And I'm gonna stop for a second and try to backtrack to a video that I'd like to share that kind of exemplifies our desire for Just Transition. The thing about hip hop Today it is, it's smart, it's insightful.
>> Let hip hop lead the way to a great future.
>> High rate of-
>> Devastated by Katrina-
>> Be sure to follow, and now they are.
>> Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the agency of the- America can create millions of well paid, green collar jobs.
We can make our streets safer and our communities healthier. We can save the planet for our children and our children's children. That is the promise of a green economy.
>> We will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient. So we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.
We need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy, develop technologies like wind power and solar power, advance biofuel, and more efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.
>> So that is pretty thematic and very culturally relatable, especially if one is trying to help many that are the most vulnerable, again, living with near proximity to polluting systems.
We, African Americans pay 49 billion to the energy sector, but only hold 1% of the energy jobs. If we are highly, because of inequitable systems and we're in need of system change, that we are the ones highly impacted by this pandemic that is shining a light on inequities, then we may want to consider having culturally relatable information, and policies, and advocacies, and I guess practicum.
And then getting close here to wrapping up, just to share here in the Midwest, that we had heavy flash flooding in the Chicago area. Some of the things that we're doing at the national level is providing equitable flood management training to our members. We may all recall that in Midland, Michigan, the rains lead to a dam failure.
Over 11,000 people were safely evacuated. I touched on the fact that there were major tornadoes in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and perhaps beyond. There were some recent tornadoes in the Gary, Indiana area where their power was cut off. And of course, I always speak around the challenges around agricultural yields.
And people living in food apartheid areas are lacking food access, and the price of food, how it's going to go up, and so how folks need to have their own access to food. Living in urban heat islands, it can be a challenge, and talking about how Big Mama never wants to turn up her air conditioning because she wants to keep her utility costs down, and how we're gonna need to build cooling stations and heating stations in which she may be able to go play bingo and stay cool for a while.
Or we can start ramping up the weatherization, that she might feel comfortable turning up the air. And that we see that energy is a human right. No one should fear being cold in the winter or being hot in the summer. Everyone should have access to energy. The NAACP has what we call our Equity in Building Resilience in Adaptation Plan.
And one might consider what constitutes strengthening resiliency through equitable adaptation planning. How do we assess the context comprehensively so that effective methods are designed to be able to declare that a community is in fact resilient, and that has been achieved? We must develop systems that address the needs and provide protection for those that are most vulnerable and marginalized.
We have the Our Communities and Our Power toolkit. Which aims to support communities in honing a collective vision for cooperative, independent society that embodies deep democracy in a way that uplifts Earth rights and human rights, and is rooted in the principles and practices of solidarity economy. And the tools and models in the toolkit uplift methods for community driven processes that ensure the adaptation to climate change happens on the people's terms.
And lastly, We want to push for transformation and transformative decision makers and those assessing adaptive capacity and action to extend their concerns from the proximate causes of risk, such as dwelling, and dwelling quality, and livelihood structures, or demographic characteristics, to its structural or root causes, and looking at social, cultural, and economic relationships, and power hierarchies, and to justify choices made between incremental and transformative agendas and transformation, fundamental change to, The functioning of systems.
Examples include new social contracts, and new relationships of power by gender, class, and ethnicity, that surface alternative development priorities preferences and pathways. And in developing in inequality and transformation analysis framework Shachar argues for a model to examine the structural relational dimensions of inequity. That shapes, vulnerabilities and to look at relational views that allow for better understanding and assessing the transformation that constrains institutions and structures.
And the roles played by actors in any processes or the blockages of those being included. And here's just some of our different methodologies and since we're running out of time, I won't really go through those. And also things that one can do, everything from calling on your legislators and looking for what we call climate champions, creating scorecards on how they are doing.
Lifting up local and state clean air ordinances and better net metering legislation and creating better water and food access. In housing building codes, and I'll say first and really foremost, which I did not go over is something that we in environmental justice community really lift up is the head mass principles.
Which is truly letting people speak for themselves, building relationships and and so much more. And, in conclusion, everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verbs agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, so generated by love, thank you.
>> Thank you so much for that, it's really overwhelming to see all that activity going on. We do have some questions and I wanna encourage people that if you if you have a question, please do, feel free to put that into the chat. You kinda started this at the end but I think so many people on this call, wanna know what they can do and particularly from a university setting.
We have faculty, we have students, we have graduate students, undergraduates. What are some of the best ways that people in the university setting can get involved in the work that you're doing?
>> Well, I think there's many different ways one, I think from a academia perspective. It's everything from being partnerships and providing in terms.
There I didn't touch on the fact that I did have a lot of great relationships with academia and realizing that a lot of data on the impacts on black and brown people are lacking. Particularly in Indiana and possibly beyond. I did for example, a student at IU McKinney School of Law he did a report I think his name was Sean Evans.
He did a report on where does pollution or who does it impact and in the end he truthfully said I really was thinking and hoping it was in the low income communities. And he said he just kept doing it and doing it and he discovered that it was truly, most of the pollution was in black and brown communities that came out to be his findings.
And so we were able to use that report and it gave us voice in the statehouse, to advocate. Other examples is having students just do research. We've had students through the IU McKinney School of Law at the time of the Clean Power Plan, do research for us. And make it more layman and more understandable and culturally relatable too, so certainly internships.
The other things are as folks are working on reports or policies to assure that there isn't an equity frame that are built in. And then there's always reaching out to any of your local branches whether it's the Midwest or in Indiana. And offering to serve on the environmental climate justice committee and helping to provide that scholarly and academia support
>> Well, I think there are many people who would love the opportunity to help.
And I'll put IEU and myself forward as a contact for you Denise if there are specific projects issues where you think expertise from somebody at IEU or an intern would be helpful. We can be a clearinghouse for that if you like.
>> Sarah, did you have a question?.
>> Yeah, I'll jump in, there's a question that's interesting to me that came through. Which is that many of the advocacy groups seem themselves to be either predominantly black or white. They're not very diverse, I'm curious if you agree with that. And do you know of examples of advocacy efforts that have been more diverse
>> Well, I think there's something that's more important than diversity.
So, and I don't think I know for my frame it's never intentional to be so afrocentric. I believe in human beings and I look for what we call real human beings. But there's a lot of politics, there's resource grabbing, there's co-opting of narratives and frames. And there is a need for some groups of people to heal and be in relationship with each other and determine their own self determination.
And that can't happen when there's other groups imposing their agendas. And so those are things that need great and many conversations and I've been privileged to be a part of a lot of national groups that are doing that hard work. And to just give one example, equity. What equity means to you may be different into what it means to me.
So when organizations and groups wanna work together they need to create a shared understanding. On what is equity to us as a collective if we're going to work together? And avoiding transactional and extractive relationships and I believe and I think many that I've been hanging out with and learning from.
Is that relationships are truly key in all this body of work,because there's another system change we want. Maybe it's relationship changing on how we relate to each other. And certainly making human centered decisions and not profit driven decisions, and so it's really complex. So when you hear, and then also I know it seems provocative, it shouldn't.
But to have someone say that I am advocating for a group, that is truly most impacted by why they change, should not be so threatening or so. There has to be a voice, and it's a truthful narrative I believe. And a narrative that especially people of African descent that have not felt allowed to express.
It's my truth if someone is of, other folks have their own truth that they've always been able to tell. And I think we're just coming into a beam where we're like, hey, we can tell our story. We can tell who we are, we could say the term Big Mama if we want to.
It's okay, that's who have. And so I try to do what I do to give that permission, and to make it I guess, mainstream acceptable, even though it hasn't probably been thought of in that way.
>> What an important conversation, thank you for that answer. I think so many of us who have been recipients of privilege over time, are really struggling to figure ou how we engage properly and respectfully, but also constructively and productively.
So, well, Denise thank you so much. It's been a wonderful start to our series here, it's just been great to have you. We really appreciate the gift of your time, and even more we appreciate the work that you're doing in our communities, to help make this a fairer place for everybody, and especially for those of African descent in our communities.
On behalf of Sarah and everybody, I will thank you for for joining us. And I wanna close this off and invite you all to come back again next time. Both of our websites IP and the RI will have information about this series. And so tell your friends, tell your neighbors, and stay safe and well everybody.
>> Thanks, bye everybody.
>> Thank you.
We Are Done Dying – Transformation and Liberation
This talk addressed the journey of people of African descent toward resilience and resistance from all that seeks to harm and impede their human and civil rights.
Suzannah Comfort - September 18, 2020
Description of the video:>> Hello everyone, welcome to the fall Environmental Resilience Speaker Series jointly presented by Indiana university's integrated program on the environment, and the Environmental Resilience Institute at IU. I'm Adam Fudickar, I'm a research fellow at the Environmental Resilience Institute. So we're pleased you're able to join us, we have a great lineup of speakers throughout the fall who will speak on a range of interesting topics in a format that will allow for interaction with the speakers and an opportunity for interdisciplinary dialogue.
Both IPE and ERI are founded on the understanding, that interdisciplinary learning and research are essential to teach today's scholars, and to solve today's problems. The Natural and Social Sciences, the humanities and the arts are all critical and in play as we tackle climate change, and the environmental challenges that are affecting our health, our communities and our economy, here in Bloomington and around the world.
The IPE was founded in 2012 by the provost and the leadership of the O'Neill school, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Public Health. To bring together all of the environmental and sustainability scholarship across the various schools and departments on the Bloomington campus. IPE is made up of over 120 faculty and nearly 1,000 students studying the environment from all angles, the sciences, arts and humanities across 27 degree programs.
The ERI was founded in 2017 as part of the IE prepared for environmental grant challenge. Its mission is to enhance resilience to environmental change in Indiana and beyond by accurately predicting impacts and effectively partnering with communities to implement feasible, equitable, and research informed solutions. I'd like to start by thanking Sarah Mency from IPE and Mariana Cains from the O'Neill School, who organized the speaker series.
We have a wide variety of speakers who can share their experiences, research, and insights with us. In particular, our speakers this semester will focus on topics relevant to the issues of systemic racial inequality, environmental injustice and the need for a just transition to a future that is healthy and safe for all people.
So here's a list of just a few of the talks we have coming up this semester. If you go to our individual web pages you'll find a complete list, and you can sign up for our regular newsletters so that you can receive information about coming in advance and notices about our upcoming talks in the speaker series.
So you can also see the information for our social media for the ERI, here's the IPE webpage address and the IPE social media information, so we encourage you to sign up for our newsletters. Before we start, I'd like to ask everyone to mute yourself and if you come up with questions during the talk, please enter into the chat box.
At the end of the talk, we should have time for questions, so we'll address the speak with your questions at the end. And I'd now like to turn it over to Jim Shanahan, Dean of the Media School at IU and Associate Director of the ERI.
>> Thank you Adam, great to be here with all of you.
And thank you so much for coming to our talk and it's my pleasure to have the duty to introduce today's speaker who I know very well because she is an assistant professor here, in our own media school. I'm talking about Suzannah Comfort, Suzannah has her PhD from the University of North Carolina and her work focuses on a variety of issues in relation to environmental communication.
Quite a variety as a matter of fact, including such topics as how environmental issues are covered in news and journalism. How communication is done performed and how effective it is by environmental NGOs, and many related topics. Very worthwhile diving into her CV later if you get a chance.
Prior to coming to IU and also prior to her PhD work Suzannah has also worked in the environmental communication field, as the editorial director of a magazine called Oceana. And a lot of really great research on topics as varied as, working with the archives of environmental groups, to look for communication issues and patterns, there are.
Topics like who gets covered in international climate change coverage. She's looked at the environmental messaging of Pope Francis and has also developed a lot of expertise in the overall field of environmental communication, with a systematic review of our environmental comm literature. So I'm really pleased to have her as a colleague, I'm pretty sure she's a native Hoosier as well right Susannah?
Giving me the thumbs up there, and so, thank you so much for coming to hear from Susannah Comfort. So this is Susannah I'll turn it over to you.
>> All right thank you, Jim. Please let me know if there's any issues hearing me or anything cuz I said earlier, I'm still skeptical about zoom and making sure I have the technological expertise.
All right, so I'm gonna share my screen, so give me one second. All right, does that look good? Everyone can see it Jim, you can see it? Great, all right so topic of my talk today is Journalists as activists and activists as journalists. How the American environmental movement has used journalism as an advocacy tool.
So essentially here what I'm interested in is the relationship between journalism and advocacy. And basically, a fundamental question in my research is what is journalism, and who gets to count as a journalist? So, today I'm gonna dive into a historical project that I did, but I do think it's relevant to our current media landscape, and I'll try and make some of those connections, as I go through the talk.
My goal is to have time for questions and discussion at the end, so hopefully I'll be able to get through this quickly, I'll do my best, cuz I do want to have a conversation. So, when we think about news, we think about, big news organizations like I've got NBC News, NPR, Fox News, Wall Street Journal.
And these large mainstream news organizations all operate in pretty much a similar fashion. And I know what you're thinking, NPR and Fox News have nothing in common, how dare you suggest that they operate similarly? And it's true that in terms of their story selection, and how they present stories and the fact that NPR is a radio station and Fox News is a cable TV channel, there are differences between these news organizations.
However, when we look big picture about how all these mainstream news organizations operate, they have more in common, than they don't have in common. So for example, they are professional, they are produced by people who are paid to produce journalistic information. They are operating under the, a similar series of norms and practices in the sense that they go out with a mission of being factual, of presenting events as they happen of presenting a plurality of voices.
So, and an important characteristic they have in common, although NPR is a bit of an exception to this, but most of these mainstream news organizations are also commercial. Meaning that they operate under market conditions, they need to appeal to a wide audience their subscription or, Are advertising supported.
So all of these characteristics result in sort of constraints on how they operate. And even if you disagree with some of the coverage you see from different news organizations, they are going out with a mission to be factual, and to present multiple points of view. They may not execute in a way that's always satisfying, but they're all operating under the same basic assumptions about what is journalism.
However, when we sort of step back to think about other definitions of journalism, we can start to include other forms of doing journalism. So I've posted a couple of historic examples here. So the North Star to the upper left there, that is Frederick Douglass abolitionist newspaper. Below that I've got a socialist newspaper, and we've got here an example from the LGBT Press.
So in addition to these large mainstream kind of general interest news organizations that operate sort of in commercial market based orientation. We also have a whole universe of smaller niche or alternative presses that are presenting alternative points of view. So today, abolition would be a mainstream perspective, but it was not a mainstream perspective when Frederick Douglass was writing about it.
Others sort of outside of mainstream thought like socialist thought, or LGBT rights, etc. We're historically excluded from our national news organizations because national news are so big picture commercial, general interest news aims towards the middle in terms of American values. And when a group presents an alternative worldview or perspective, it's often excluded from those mainstream news organizations.
They just don't receive coverage or when they do, the coverage is extremely diminishing towards towards the movement or towards alternative points of view. So this type of journalism has been around for, in the history of the United States as long as we've been around. And it goes by a number of different names, alternative journalism, dissident, advocacy, or social movement journalism.
And it has some characteristics that are fundamentally different from our traditional mainstream journalism. One is that it's often non commercial, meaning it's produced by amateurs. It's funded in some alternative way, may get some advertising funding, may get some subscription funding, but they're often seeking other formats to fund these these publications.
They're written by people who's primary identity may not be journalist, it may be activist with journalist kind of as a secondary identity. And they're not as interested in presenting a plurality of points of view because their point of view is excluded from the mainstream. They don't really feel the need to quote unquote balance their point of view with a mainstream point of view that has historically suppressed their point of view.
So the orientation and the way these alternative presses function has been really different from the mainstream press. And there's been a lot of good scholarship on the African American press in American history, LGBT press, and these other social movement presses. So, this quote just kind of summarizes what these alternative presses are doing.
The capacity of a society to learn and respond to change conditions is less dependent on the generation of alternative worldviews, open communication of these realities into the general stock of common knowledge and the use of this knowledge in the development of social institutions. So there's two ways that niche perspectives and social movements can do these things, generate alternative worldview and one of those is through traditional journalism.
So these commercial mainstream news organizations are a route for the generation and adoption of alternative worldviews because they provide this public forum and they have a really broad reach. However, mainstream journalism has more often function as an agent of social control rather than social change. Meaning that if you were an abolitionist, you were unlikely to get your perspective represented in mainstream, well, what would have been to the mainstream commercial press back then.
In more recent years, you can even see today in the way that the news generally covers has been covering the protest/riots depending on who's covering it. That usually even today, news coverage of protests tends to diminish the political aspirations of the protesters, and instead focuses on the destruction and disruption to the social order.
So, journalists like to think of themselves as really progressive and pushing for social change, but usually the reality is not so progressive. So the basic questions that I am interested in and I'm going to attempt to answer or address a little bit today include why do social movements choose journalism as a tool for furthering their goals?
When traditional journalism hasn't really done a great job of representing social movements. What are the potential pitfalls for journalists operating in this uneasy space between journalism and advocacy? If you know anything about journalism, you know that one of the bedrock rules is that your traditional journalist is not supposed to be an advocate, they're supposed to be a dispassionate observer.
And the social movement or alternative press violates that assumption because participants in social movement journalism are also participants in the movement. So, there's a gatekeeping action that goes on where traditional journalists don't wanna acknowledge that social media movement journalism or advocacy journalism also performs journalistic functions. How to advocacy organizations balance the requirements of the journalism field with the requirements of the advocacy field when they're operating under two very different sets of norms and assumptions?
And to bring it to our current media climate, what does it mean for journalism and society as we see more and more advocacy, nonprofit, and/or partisan news organizations entering the field? So I'll kind of address it at the end. I'm not gonna answer all these questions, of course, because this is a lot, but these are the sort of the general guiding ideas.
So in my particular area of expertise, what I'm interested in is the environmental movement. As a social movement, the environmental movement has been an interesting one because it is one of the most mainstream of social movements which is a bit of an oxymoron. Because usually social movements exist, sort of opposite the mainstream because they want to change mainstream thinking.
But at the same time, the environmental movement has had to push for social change and has dealt with conflict throughout its entire existence. So I won't go into a long detailed history of American environmentalism in the interest of time. But let me just briefly sketch that there really wasn't much of an organized environmental movement until about the turn of the 20th century.
And that's when groups like the Audubon Society, and the Sierra Club were founded, Wilderness Society it was a little bit later in the 1930s. But these groups operated primarily as niche special interest groups that were interested in narrow topics. Sierra Club was very focused on Western mountains, Yosemite area, California specifically and preserving those areas.
Audubon was very specifically focused on bird conservation. So it wasn't until the 1960s that we saw kind of a shift from a niche special interest group that had small memberships in the low thousands, to a mass social movement. And the difference between being a niche interest group and mass social movement is the ability to capture the attention of a wide swath of Americans, average everyday Americans rather than people who only care about mountains or birds.
And that's what happened in the 1960s along with that whole protest generation, civil rights movements, women's rights and so on. The environmental movement followed up on those other movements and captured a really broad coalition of interest. So we saw a lot of movement in the environmental movement interest in 1960s into the 70s, and it was quite bipartisan, quite widely supported.
It wasn't until the 80s that it started to become more partisan and now we see more of a split between conservatives and liberals on environmentalism. However, it did enjoy quite a long period of broad bipartisan support in the middle of the 20th century. So, one of my interest is in how these organizations, many of which have now been around for over 100 years or close to it, use journalism and media as an advocacy tool.
Meaning that when they were going out saying look, we want to get better policy for bird protection, we want to set aside more acreage for wilderness protection. They weren't just doing, behind the scenes lobbying, although they were doing that, they were also taking these claims to the public sphere.
And we know one of the basic assumptions of alternative media and social movements media is that you have to take your perspective just from the niche, the interest group of people who are already engaged and bring it to the broader public sphere. And that's one leverage one lever of social change.
So what these organizations did is they produce their own media. And one reason why they produce their own media is as I referred to earlier, the national news media or sort of typical state level media as well, newspapers, they didn't cover this very much. Environmental journalism as a beat, meaning organizational sort of section or resource, a place where news organizations would spend resources.
Environmental journalism as we know it now really didn't exist until the late 1960s, so well after the public had gotten really engaged with environmentalism. So you couldn't really take these claims just to the press because the press was not very interested, it was not viewed as news, someone has to make it news.
So what these organizations did instead was produce their own news, they performed a journalistic function, and they produced these membership magazines. I have some examples up here, Audubon and Sierra magazines are still existing today and have circulations of over half a million each. Wilderness no longer existed it folded in, I think the early 2000s, but it did exist from the 1930s until then.
And all of these went from being very small membership oriented magazines that had circulation of a few thousand to, more general interest going beyond just the niche group that already cared about their issues trying to take it to a broader public. And so even today, this is from Ottawa magazine from two years ago, they're using the language of journalism to convey their legitimacy.
So this is an editorial by the then editor and chief of Ottawa magazine. He's drawing a really interesting distinction here, he says odd as this may sound, Audobon italics is not Audobon, not in italics. The magazine is function as an independent journalistic entity, published by the National Audubon Society and covering topics of interest to the organization members.
For the entirety of its hundred plus years and counting, it's not a house organ, its value derived entirely from its integrity. You can trust what you read here is factually accurate and fair, blah, blah, blah. So you see that he's making a claim that look, we're doing journalism, this is our line in the sand, don't tell us that we're not, we're really doing this.
So one thing I went and I looked at, in the archival research that I did was I went and I wanted to understand what these organizations were thinking. When they redevelop these magazines from being quite niche oriented, to general interests, conservation, or environmental publications that would push forward the environmental cause.
And especially in the case of Audubon, it became a nationally awarded magazine at one it was the first advocacy produced publication to win a national magazine award for reporting excellence in the 1970s. So it was kind of the the flagbearer for this genre of publication. So what did they do for this project?
Actually, let me go back to this is a more pleasant slide. I went to the organizational archives of each of these organizations, Sierra Club archives are located at the University of California in Berkeley. Audubon organizational archives are located at New York Public Library, and Wilderness societies or archives are at the Denver Public Library.
So I last year, with a little bit of funding from IU as well, I was able to go to these archives and look into what were the conversations inside the organizations about adopting journalism to try to further their social movement goals. So actually, the first organization to broach this idea within the environmental realm that I could find, was the wilderness society, and I apologize for the quality of this slide, that's gonna be a theme.
But this is a letter from Howard Zahniser, who was a founder of the Wilderness Society, to the president of the Wilderness Society, Harvey Broome in the 1950s. And he says a matter that's been in my mind is the need for more forceful interpretive journalism in our field of conservation.
For a periodical that would be independent of inhibitions arising from off the record cooperation and confidences with officials, and other organizations that would come up promptly and currently with news and editorial interpretation. And then skip to the next paragraph, if you look to our recent winter magazine, you will see something like an illustration of what I mean.
With a magazine of color, regularity and frequency of appearance maybe by monthly instead of quarterly. And the appeals of editorial time and attention can give it I believe we could achieve a strong influence for wilderness preservation. So he's saying that, journalism is a tool to get us to our goal, which in the Wilderness society's case is increased wilderness preservation.
And one interesting thing that you see in this field, is the influence of a lot of former journalists. Howard Zahniser was a former journalist a newspaperman before he became involved with environmental advocacy. And he actually went on to become the main architect of the the Wilderness Act in the 1960s, which was a major piece of legislation.
But he wasn't alone, many of these organizations had former journalists as directors or presidents, or other high level positions in these organizations. So you see they're bringing that logic from the journalism field into the advocacy field and thinking, how can I use this tool to further our goals?
So Howard Zahniser was on the forefront, but it wasn't the Wilderness Society that really set the stage for journalism from environmental advocacy organizations. It was actually the Audubon Society, they really took the lead. So here's an example of an issue of Audubon Magazine from 1960. You can see on the left, we've got some pictures from their annual black tie gala.
Everyone looks quite grim, but I think they're having a good time. But you see, there's the photos, it's very promotional. It's not especially interesting if you're not a member of this particular group wanting to see your picture in the magazine. The other genre of article you would see in Audubon in the early 60s and before was ornithological essays about bird species.
So here's one about the purple capped fairy hummingbird. The author of this piece, Alexander Scutchess, an ornithologist. So this was the sort of pre-journalistic Audubon Magazine. Promotional in nature, highly niche, not especially compelling from an art perspective, or a narrative perspective. So they realized this was a missed opportunity here.
And they actually engaged a consultant firm, Cresap McCormick and Paget in New York, Ottawa's also based in New York, to do analysis and come up with recommendations for the magazine's redevelopment. And they came up with these four ideas. Immediate action should be taken to strengthen editorial impact. It should be made more attractive.
We should continue to invest in editorial quality as we go up in circulation. And we should reduce the cost of producing the magazine. So classic, you should do more with less kind of attitude. But what ended up happening is Audubon was successful beyond its wildest imagination. This consulting firm estimated that their circulation could go from about 30,000 to 50,000.
They actually went up to more 350,000 within five to seven years, so it was really a successful redesign. So what did they do? Almost immediately, this issue is 19, I wanna say 66, they hired a new editor in 1966, early 66, named Les a former newspaper man from Michigan.
And he decided this was no longer a magazine about birds, this was a magazine about the environmental movements and the ongoing destruction of the American environment. So the type of journalism you'd see in the magazine in those years was articles like this one, that used very dramatic language.
An offense against America, a mountain is ravaged, a valley shattered. So we've traveled a long way from those pictures of the men and women in black tie at the gala. Now we're going into in-depth and lengthy, I mean, these articles were just thousands and thousands of words long.
Lengthy in-depth investigations into broad environmental issues that were not limited to birds. So to give another example, a couple other examples from those years, the 1970 on the right there. On the left we have an article about pollution, which was a major concern in the 1960s and 70s.
Of course, it still is today. And on the right people pollution. Perhaps a term we might not use today. This article is written by Paul Ehrlich. If you don't know that name, he was a biologist who wrote a famous book in the late 1960s called The Population Bomb.
There was a very prominent theory about environmentalism at a time that was basically Malthusian, saying that we were producing more and more people and the earth's resources couldn't keep up. And Ehrlich was one of the primary proponents of this perspective. So you see here we're doing journalistic work but also drawing on some non-journalists to produce it, such as Paul Ehrlich being a scientist.
But in using narrative, using drama, using a lot of the same concepts that are in sort of traditional mainstream journalism. And I give this example as well, this is from the 1971. So at this point the magazine's circulation was well over, I think 3 or 400,000. A far cry from where it had been ten years earlier.
And here we have an example of a bird-related article. But if you read the article, it's about the moral dilemma facing falconers. Within the bird community, there was, I suppose there probably still is, a variety of perspectives about the morality of owning falcons and training them in falconry.
So this article gives those multiple perspectives. So it's, again, drawing on this traditional journalistic practices of presenting a plurality of points of view. Where in the past, Audubon might have only published the anti-falconry point of view, now they're presenting both points of view. So a balanced vision of this type of issue.
So we're, again, drawing on these traditional journalistic norms and practices. And George Laycock is a professional writer. Previously, the magazine, the only authors in it were amateurs. They were unpaid, so they submitted their own essays, essentially. So we've got to move towards professionalism, a move towards more actual journalists contributing to the magazine.
And the actual work they're producing resembles mainstream journalism. And at this time in the 1960s and 70s, it was a real heyday of narrative long form journalism. And there was a broader conversation ongoing about, how should journalism be produced, and is it possible to be a dispassionate observer?
At that same time we saw the rise of what was then called new journalism, which you may be familiar with when you think of Joan Didion's work. And there are numerous, what's his name, I'm gonna blank on all the people whose names I've read. Hunter Thompson's work, of course.
Where the writer embeds himself or herself in this issue and becomes an actor, so to speak. Not an actor like they're making it up, but an agent within the story, that they're acknowledging their presence within the story. So there is this broader questioning of, what does it mean to be a journalist?
And I think it kind of cracked open the possibility that an advocacy press like Audubon Magazine could be one of those journalistic outlets, be considered journalism, if we're questioning, what are the fundamentals of journalism at this time? So did it work for Audubon Magazine? It absolutely did from a circulation point of view.
They went from, let's see, 1965, less than 40,000 in circulation to over 300,000. And that was just within about one decade of redeveloping the magazine. So they were able to sell ads, which raised a whole other bevy of questions because they sold ads to timber and oil companies, which raised some controversy within the organization.
And really broadened the reach. And helped the claims of the environmental movement reach a more mainstream audience. What ended up happening was the magazine was so popular, it was actually read by both environmentalists and groups you might consider non-environmentalists. Because you might have it at the dentist's office, for example.
So if they ran an article about oil companies They would often follow it up with a letter to the editor from the oil company, disputing claims made in the article. And in that way, it served as a forum between multiple points of view. So what did it mean from an internal point of view?
So you have an advocacy organization, its goal is to increase bird protections. It doesn't identify fundamentally as a journalistic organization. So here is the example of a memo from the president of Audubon Society, Carl Buchheister. I can't remember the exact year, this was about 1966, I believe. And he's referring to an article that was about to get published.
And he says, I disapprove 100% of our publishing this article or even aiding in having it published elsewhere. It's no good, the article could expose us to libel suits. This is the kinda article that involves policy decision of the board level. So here he's saying, you don't have full autonomy, editor Les Line, to do whatever you want.
We have to be cautious, we can't just publish anything, because we could get in trouble. Here's another example where an internal conversation revealed some of the dynamics at play here. So this is a memo from the vice president of science, he was one of the science directors for the Audubon Society, to the editor of Audubon Magazine.
And he offers, he says, I offered to personally review, if time permits, articles 1 and 2, and volunteer Gene's services, if time and logistics permit, to review 3 for general scientific content and accuracy. So he's just saying, let us take a quick look, a little fact check on your work.
And this was Les's response, you don't have to read the whole thing, but it basically says no thank you. And when we want your services, you will be asked, and don't hold your breath. So here he says, we will not routinely submit our articles for review by you and your staff.
And that it is our historic procedure to submit galley proofs of all articles to the Society president, as publisher of Audubon. Beyond that, the responsibility for the content of Audubon lies with the editors and authors. So from the editor's perspective, Les Line, he's saying, look, we're journalists, we take responsibility for our material.
And we are not going to allow you or our co-colleagues here at Audubon Society to get involved. We make the decisions, we're operating as a journalistic entity. And so Les Line and these other editors would often draw this line in the sand. But the reality was actually a bit more nuanced in terms of whether non-editors within the organization could influence the content of these magazines.
And one reason why this was an issue was because readers could not distinguish between Audubon in italics and Audubon Society, which I think is reasonable. So this is from a letter to the editor. No matter how you may say that the reader of Audubon Magazine should know that the Society is not endorsing every view expressed in the articles.
Nevertheless, the readers of that magazine are gonna feel that it's being used as a forum for the expression of views of the writers. And they're gonna translate that into a feeling that we endorse those views. Actually, I believe this is not a letter to the editor. This is from one of the board members of Audubon Society.
So he's saying, look, how can we expect our readers and audience to read articles and say, that's not the Audubon Society view, when it's in Audubon Magazine, which is a fairly reasonable question. Here's a memo from the chief scientist at Audubon Society, who had a long-running campaign against Les Line and the magazine.
Everywhere I go in the nation, Texas, Florida, California, I run into objections about the Society's stance that's represented by Audubon and editor Line. If you have been at all inclined to view my feud with Les as a personal problem, I urge you to inquire more carefully because I think the Society has a serious problem on its hands.
So here, again, he's saying that look, people think the organization is the magazine. And this presents a real problem for us when we don't endorse all the views in the magazine but it says Audubon on it. So this conversation, I had found a million examples of it not just within the Audubon Society but also the Sierra Club and Wilderness Society records.
That doing quasi-journalistic or journalism work within the confines of this type of organization is really fraught because of these confusions about what editorial independence means, if you can have that. And how other people are going to perceive you, the organization, or the journalistic entity as social movement actors, as journalists, etc.
So to summarize those points, the problems with doing journalism within the boundaries of a non-journalistic entity with its own social change goals. Editorial independence will always be negotiated. So I actually gave a version of this talk to the National Audubon Society in January in New York. And after I concluded the talk, and I went into a bunch more examples of conflicts between the editorial team and the board of directors and other staffers at the Society.
And the first thing someone said was you could swap out all the years for 2020 and it would be the same. So even today these conversations are the same, like what does it mean to produce editorial content? How can we reflect the organization but also confer the legitimacy of independence, of factuality, etc.?
Another thing that will always happen is that traditional journalists will continue to seek to exclude advocacy presses from the, quote, unquote, club. So to give an example, the Society for Environmental Journalists is the main trade organization that represents environmental journalism in the US. And they have membership rules where if you receive most of your income from, quote, unquote, advocacy press, you can't be a full member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.
Which is really challenging for freelance journalists, which most environmental journalists are, because there aren't that many full-time environmental journalism positions. Freelance journalists, their income varies year to year, their clients and outlets that they publish in vary year to year. And so they're being told, well, you don't count as a full journalist if you are writing for Sierra, if you're writing for Audubon, etc.
So there's a gatekeeping action going on that I think is ultimately a bit fruitless and undermining to the Society of Environmental Journalists, but it's happening. And then lastly, the other thing I want to touch on is that even in a social media reality, so the examples I just gave are from the 60s and 70s.
You think, the media landscape has changed so much now. I would say, yes, but, yes. But traditional journalism in the form of these big mainstream news outlets still continue to be an important pathway to legitimacy, scope enlargement, and mobilization. By which I mean that there are examples of social movements that we can name just even in the last few years.
Where social media was the primary format where people communicated and created an imagined community. And that has kind of replaced, in many ways, what these magazines did 30, 40-plus years ago. Cuz they also served to create a forum and an imagined community of supporters of people who are geographically dispersed.
So now we have social media performing that role. However, when the traditional large news organizations notice it and if they do choose to cover it, it does confer. I would argue, it still confers legitimacy to the social movement by saying, this is a big enough deal that now it's on NBC Nightly News.
And it also allows activists to Enlarge the scope of their claims and their issues and increase mobilization, you can mobilize through social media. Absolutely. But I think that boost you get from especially television news, which is still such an important purveyor of information today, that there's still going to be this relationship between traditional news and advocacy presses even if the advocacy Media is in the form of digital social media.
All right, so I wanna end with just touching on the current landscape for environmental journalism. So, I think there is a, as I stated before, environmental journalism as we know it today really didn't exist until the 1960s. News organizations didn't start applying resources to it until the late 1960s.
And since then, the resources that news organizations give to environment journalism has varied a lot. It goes up for a little while. It goes down for a little while. And then, it kind of just cycles through. But I do think that we are seeing more awareness environmental issues are pervasive.
They're kind of like the master problem that underlies a lot of other problems in our society. This is the front page the New York Times from just a couple or last week, talking about what's going on in California. And calling them climate events, like this is related to climate change.
And it's having a major impact on our society today. Beyond that, what I'm seeing is an explosion in nonprofits, environmental journalism. So, one I would recommend is inside climate news. This is a Pulitzer Prize winning news organization that has a lot of what you might call traditional journalists working for it.
It's not attached to any advocacy organization. It's funded by Pew and a variety of other sources. So, they can attempt to, avoid those pitfalls of working from an advocacy perspective. There's also right here at IU, tlhe Indiana Environmental Reporter, which is fulfilling a really important news needs since there's very few dedicated environmental journalists in the state of Indiana.
Now, the IER is funded by IU and the media school. They do make a, try to make a distinction that they don't work for the media school, they don't work for IU, so they should be independent. But with these organizations, any of them inside climate news or IER, the question of how ownership might influence their news production is always an open one.
And you really can't know till you start looking at what kind of news they produce. And lastly, I wanna touch on Heated which is a climate newsletter, email newsletter. Newsletters are having a moment. I'm also has a podcast. And this is a weekly newsletter produced by Emily Atkinson, who is a journalist, and it's quite good.
If you are interested in viral news, I'd recommend signing up for it. And she posted this on twitter not too long ago. And I think it's really relevant to our discussion about environmental journalism in general. And she says, as a journalist, I've often been being partisan for supporting issues like equal rights and climate justice.
But I believe that making your values known makes you more trustworthy, not less. I believe such lack of transparency is why many Americans don't trust reporters. So, what she's getting at here is, it is a trend in journalism more broadly away from the dispassionate observer, and toward the idea that we can't avoid bias.
We can only acknowledge it and be transparent about it. So, we're seeing transparency as a news norm ascendant. And environmental journalists in particular have been tarnished with the brush of lack of objectivity for the last 50 plus years. I interviewed some environment journalists for another project a couple years ago, and I asked them about this.
I said, what do you do when people say that you're biased, cuz you're environmental journalist, and you must be anti business, for example? And one of them, well, he got so angry, journalists can be really, really righteous. And he said, it's stupid to say that cuz I'm an environmental journalist.
I must be anti business. You don't tell, don't say health reporter is like, Pro heart attack or, Anti healthy vegetables or healthy lifestyle. And I thought that was a really good analogy, but for some reason, environmental journals in particular, have been having searched onto the side within the broader journalist field, is being somehow compromised or not objective.
And what Emily Atkin is expressing here is that it's not about pretending to be totally dispassionate and unbiased, and without any kind of opinion or perspective, it's about transparency. And I think that is a broader trend within journalism, more widely. So with that, I think I'm gonna end it, because I would like to have a conversation for a few minutes before we end.
So, thank you so much for your time. And perhaps, we can talk for a little bit how.
>> Thank you Susanna. Susanna, can you hear me okay?.
>> Okay, thank you so much. So, let me first remind folks that if you have questions, you can submit those to the chat, and I will ask them, up Suzanna.
And so, just type away and then those will get in there really quickly. So, while I'm waiting for those, let me start with, you give a sense of what you perceive the overall frequency of coverage of environmental issues to be in all the forms of journalism that you mentioned.
When we compare it to all the other issues that compete for our attention.
>> I would say on the whole, it's very low news priority. I think you see spikes in attention when there's a major sort of driving events. If there's a hurricane, for example, that as historic in some wayz because it's stronger, bigger storm surge, etc.
Then you might see a spike in sort of climate change related reporting. But usually, it fades off. I'd say it's not a stable beat at most news organizations. Usually, it's the kind of beat where a journalist might pick up because they especially want to do it, and are interested.
But there's very little institutional resources for environmental journalism. We just saw in the last few years, the New York Times and CNN both dismantled their climate desks that they had. They had both built a pod of 5 to 10 reporters who worked specifically on the climate beat, and then, after a few years, got rid of it.
So, you saw there's kind of a movement towards, we're gonna really, dedicate resources to this. And then, a fading away of those resources. And I've seen that pattern when I've looked at it from a historic perspective. It's been pretty much that pattern since the 1960s. There's a big wave.
There's from 1968 editor and publisher reported, I think two environmental journalists in the United States that labeled themselves as environmental journalists. By 1970 there are over 100, but Newspapers. But today, I have a number of newspapers that have an environmental journalists are very few. I think Indianapolis Star only has them because they're grants supported.
So, people are looking for alternative routes to support environmental journalism, because for whatever reason, there's less of an appetite for maybe, because people perceive it as a bummer. Or it's not as, it just doesn't attract as much attention as sports coverage or political scandal coverage. But I think it is.
In the United States as a whole, it goes like this. It's never really very stable.
>> So now, the questions are pouring. And let me just thank you very briefly for mentioning Indiana environmental reporter and with the reporters at the star. And also, the reporter who's at it.
In the public media that's funded by us, those are three out of really the only five reporters in the whole state of Indiana, that are covering environmental issues on a statewide, levels. So that makes your point pretty well. So let me just start lining up these questions now that are coming in from somebody really interested in birds.
What happened to the Audubon editor who was controversial.
>> He was editor for 30 years, and then he was fired in 1991.
>> So basically what happened was, there was a change in leadership at the top of the Audubon Society. And while Audubon magazine was very quote unquote successful in terms of attaining cultural capital, for the organization and spreading its message, it also became extremely bloated and very expensive.
And I think another trend that happened as we saw in the 60s and 70s arises in specialized magazines, there's a downfall of the general interest magazines like Life and Look and Saturday Evening Post. And then the rise of special interest magazines like Sports Illustrated, Playboy, etc. And Audubon was in that trend, but that trend, as all trends do, there's a big rise in special interest magazines and it kind of dipped off.
So the timing for less is not great. And I think after 30 years at the helm, he refused to change his ways, so he was fired in 1981. And I actually had a great quote from him, that I showed to the National Audubon Society because all their employees are so young no one remembers any of this.
And it was when he was fired, he talked about how he was gonna become this PC namby pamby not afraid of controversy publication, so good luck, suckers. That was basically his goodbye message.
>> I can imagine it was great fun being able to go through all these archives and looking at that stuff.
Another question too, what degree has research shown, if you're aware that advocacy journalism organisations have had an effect on, shaping mainstream media agendas.
>> I think that my understanding of that literature is that it has shown to have an effect. But what has happened was, particularly with the rise of digital media, allowing pretty much anyone to be a publisher.
So producing a magazine like Audubon is quite expensive and resource intensive, but with the rise of digital media around the turn of the 20th century, that changed the landscape. If you all remember, political blogs were a really big deal. And they were a alternative venue for different political perspectives that weren't really necessarily being represented in the big mainstream news organizations.
And from my observation, and I think other scholars have seen this as well. What's happened is the institutionalizing of those blogs. So they've been purchased by the big mainstream news organisations. So they still function as kind of a alternative voice, but they don't operate totally independent of the mainstream anymore.
It's kind of the mainstream is just sort of absorbed and claimed, the alternative voices. And now some scholars argue that there really is no meaningful difference between alternative and mainstream media. Because of the increased partisanship of mainstream media and because of the increased technological capacity for anyone to be a mainstream media producer.
It used to be that, it was more like citizen journalists just posted on social media but now citizen journalists are sharing with the New York Times. So like when there was the big hurricane that came through the Caribbean, a couple years ago, where there are no journalists there.
Because we'd have hardly any foreign bureaus anymore. All the photos were from Facebook, that citizens had posted that were now published in the New York Times. So some have argued and I think there's some legitimacy to this that, that distinction between alternative and mainstream is no longer meaningful.
>> Next question, you showed a picture earlier of the folks at the black tie ball. I agree looking rather grim and this question is about, do you have an opinion on the rejection that we hear nowadays of early environmental organizations as examples of, white privilege?
>> Yeah, so there is a the history of the environmental movement is very white.
There's three main threads in American Environmental history. One is the conservation movement which was focused on conservation natural resources like timber, water and etc. And now it's kind of a technocratic scientific approach to environmental use. There's the preservation movement, which was about preserving wild spaces, national parks, etc.
And then there was urban environmental reform, which was you think about early 20th century Sinclair, Lewis the Jungle, we're dealing with the environmental problems of the city. Those three strands, operated quite separately, especially the urban environmentalists were sort of excluded from, the conservation and preservation arms of the movement.
And it wasn't really till the 1960s that these three arms came together and had more of an ecosystem approach that acknowledged environmental issues, came from the city as well from rural or wilderness areas. So the violent movement right now is grappling with that, it's well documented that John Muir was a racist.
He's the founder of the Sierra Club, the history of our national parks has a history of relocation of indigenous people. Audubon, John James Audubon, who's not the founder of the Audubon Society, but he was named for them, also had some problematic features to his life. And Audubon Society itself was the most lily white and elite of all of the American environmental organizations.
So they're all grappling with that today. I think there's a much greater understanding of the concept of environmental justice, which has been around now for decades. But I think it's only just recently started to, become adopted into the mainstream environmental thinking. So they're still grappling with these histories.
I was just contacted by, Audubon actually last week. They're asking me if in the archives I'd found any more racist stuff, cuz they want to get ahead of it. Truly like my research didn't show that because I wasn't looking early enough, I was looking at the 60s and 70s.
And frankly, they just didn't see race as one of the mediating factors. So they never discussed it, it was just invisible to them.
>> Yeah. Next question is would you say a word about advocacy journalists willingness or not, to specifically engage in articles or editorials on political candidates.
Particularly with those organizations that consider themselves to be nonpartisan?
>> So this means an advocacy journalist writing a column, endorsing a political candidate?
>> Yeah, or perhaps not even just specifically endorsing but, anything on political candidates.
>> I don't write specifically on political communication and initiatives, but I do think that If you're an advocacy journalist, you're already comfortable, with expressing opinion.
In fact, Emily Akon the woman who writes the heated newsletter, she calls herself an opinion journalist. So she's giving herself a name that allows her to acknowledge that her perspective is injected into everything that she writes. And I think that kinda labeling might be actually really helpful for audiences to understand what they're actually looking at.
So from my perspective I don't see any issue with opinion or advocacy journalists getting engaged with electoral politics, as long as it's transparent.
>> Yeah, just some more questions coming in. Here's one. From a listener who's saying, I love to use the archives, really interesting research. I'm curious about the evolution of environmental journalism genres.
So how would you characterize, for instance, the give and take between nature writing and science writing in the early history of American Environmental Journalism?
>> Great question, so, of course, we have a long tradition of nature writing that goes back, longer than environmental journalism existed. I think that when you look at these early advocacy groups publications.
A lot of what they published was more in the genre of nature writing, than what you might consider journalism oriented. Nature writing, I mean, a more personal narrative and personal perspective than sort of drawing on external sources. I think you don't see the trend and the switch towards science journalism until the 1960s, 50s, 60s.
And I think that's because science journalism at that point was also ascending, and people were interested in that. I think nature writing itself has been excluded from news organizations. It's usually viewed as a separate genre of writing, but I did see examples of it in the advocacy publications for sure.
In fact, I'd say that was the dominant genre, until they started switching to the more journalistic mode of the 1960s.
>> A lot of the early writing in magazine form, and you looked a lot of magazine format was done in magazines that were oriented at people. Who specifically liked hunting, fishing, that type of sportsmen activity, if you will.
Did you look at that at all in relation to these other environment, or cuz, some of those had also pretty large circulations?
>> Yeah, so there's a genre of sort of sporting magazines, for us in Field and Stream. I think American Sportsmen is the title of another one, where you did actually see a lot of early conservation and sport.
Where they start to realize that, you can't just go shoot all of the buffalo. Eventually, there will be zero buffalo or zero elk, etc. So there are great examples of early conservation and sport in those magazines. And in fact some of their editors, George Grinnell, was the editor of Forest and Stream.
And he went on to become an early member, or founder of the Audubon Society. So you see, again, there's connections between editorial roles and advocacy roles. And I don't think that's exclusive to environmentalism, that's just my area of expertise. But I think it's not a coincidence that people who recognize the public sphere's the space where power is decided.
Are people who are already working in that kind of space, and they can see the reverse at work, when we get that issue out. And they can influence policy or social change.
>> Well, Susanna, we've run out of time, well, I do have some other great questions here for you.
So I will save those in the chat and make sure you get those, and so thank you so much. That was a really fascinating talk, of course I knew your work, but this is my first chance to hear how deeply you dived into the archives, that was really cool.
So thanks so much for being on.
>> Thank you, and I appreciate everyone attending.
>> Yeah, and I wanna thank Adam for his role here, Adam surely you're great, thanks. Thanks to IPE and ERI for sponsoring this, so come back and see us all again very soon, bye, everyone.
Journalists as Activists and Activists as Journalists: How the American Environmental Movement Has Used Journalism as an Advocacy Tool
This talk focused on what it means to produce forms of "alternative" journalism and the relationship between advocacy and journalism.
Sanya Carley and David Konisky - October 2, 2020
Description of the video:>> website, Sanya comes to us having taken degrees at Swarthmore in Economics, a Master's at UW Madison in Urban and Regional Planning, and then taking her doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She and I have worked together on numerous kinds of energy things, and nice complementary aspects for socioeconomic stuff and my technical things, and we do things quite nicely.
Sarah if we could go to David, please. David Konisky. David is a political scientist by training, undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis, masters at Yale, and then taking the MIT doctorate in the mid two thousands. So David comes to us from George Town with a nice perspective on the political and social elements.
So together, Sanya and David have gotten together and they have thought about the the socioeconomic implications of energy costs, particularly in the context of our current COVID crisis. So, I'm gonna function as the moderator here, we'll go for 40 or so minutes and let our let our presenters talk about their material.
And I encourage you them to submit questions or thoughts into the chat, I'll have access to that. And at about 12:45 or so will will end and I'll try and organize a little discussion there with your chat inquiry. So, David and Sanya, I turn it over to you guys, and energy insecurity in the time of COVID-19, please.
>> Thank you,John. Thank you also Sarah and others, thank you to all the participants for being here today. So, I'm going to tee us off and then David will take over midway through the presentation, so you get a little bit of a flavor from both of us. And I just would like to acknowledge that this is shared work, but also our two collaborators, hopefully, I think are here with us today, they are amazing.
Michelle Graf and Trevor Mehmet, both PhD students in the O'Neill School. So what I would like to present today is our study or ongoing study on energy insecurity during a time of COVID. And I would like to begin by acknowledging our funders, we've been very lucky to have very generous support from the National Science Foundation from IU through the environmental resilience Institute, and the Office of Vice President of Research as well as the Alfred P Sloan Foundation.
So let me begin by describing what energy insecurity is so that we're all on the same page. Energy insecurity is generally defined as an inability to meet one's household energy demands. So what this could mean for example is that one might not be able to pay their energy bill, or it could also mean that a household doesn't actually have access to electricity, for example if they're unable to pay their energy bills and it has been disconnected from their utility provider.
Now, we know that energy insecurity is a pervasive problem in the United States, though the degree to which we actually don't know which is part of the motivation for this study. And we know that energy insecurity when a household cannot pay for their energy or don't have access to their energy, we know that there are severe consequences such as mental and physical health implications.
It can affect one's mental health in quite obvious ways if you don't have access, let's say, to cooling during a very hot day. But it can also affect people physically and with a more extreme case of through deaths from extreme heat or cold exposure. And this is actually not a small problem in the United States although we weigh under estimated prevalence.
But here I've just included a headline from CNN from a few years ago of a New Jersey a woman who was disconnected a day or two before, she was on oxygen and she died once her power was disconnected. This kind of story is quite common. So we're actually living through a very interesting and terrible time besides just the pandemic, but also with climate change and the fires that are ravaging the West Coast.
There are many outages that are currently in place as a result of PG&E, the utility provider needing to essentially ensure the safety of their electric lines, and so they have these forced outages. So we can learn a little bit from the forced outages as to what happens to the households that face these conditions that no longer overnight have, for example, have access to electricity.
So we can see here on the right hand side for example, some of the the new stories coming out of this. This was just from last year's blackouts, and some of these stories where mothers do not keep their children warm, for example. Parents struggle with their children to put them on electronic devices, which is all the more important right now and the time of homeschooling.
And I think that the average price of the groceries that a family lost in this last round of blackouts in 2019 was about $300. Now some people can absorb the cost of replacing all their food in the refrigerator in their freezer when they lose it, but others can't.
And if you're already struggling from material hardship, then replacing $300 of groceries is truly devastating. Now we know a little bit as I noted about the prevalence of energy insecurity within the United States. The primary way that we do is through the Energy Information Administration which administers a survey every four or five years, that includes some questions on challenges that households might face paying their bills.
So we know from the last year of data available from 2015, that 31% of respondents said that they had difficulty paying their energy bills, or maintaining adequate temperatures in their home. And 20% of this national sample said that as a result of their high energy bills, they had to forego buying other necessities such as food.
So this this really highlights how energy insecurity threatens, or exacerbates other forms of material hardship if a household has to make these very difficult trade offs, for example, if they put money towards food, or put money towards health care. We also know from other studies that the energy burden faced by some households is much higher than others.
So what this graph shows is that the average household spends about 3.5% of their income on energy. But that if we look across certain social demographics, we see that some households spend much, much more than 3.5%. So low income city dwelling households, for example, spend over 7%. Households that identify as African Americans spend about 5.5% of their income on energy.
Now these data sources are great and they they give us a certain sense of the problem, but they do not provide a very comprehensive view of just how prevalent energy insecurity is. And next slide, David, thank you. One can also surmise and as we've confirmed that the pandemic is actually going to exacerbate energy insecurity.
So what this slide shows is that the demand for energy over the pandemic has increased. So this is what's called a load curve. You're looking at the time of day, so hours of the day, and how much electricity or energy a household is demanding. Then you can see that during weekdays as well as weekends, there's been an increase in the amount of energy that a household demands.
Now, this means that these households end up paying a lot more for electricity as a result, whereas formerly it might have been the case that an employer for example, might have paid for that electricity. Now, during the pandemic, there have been many states that have decided that they will put utility disconnection protections in place to help these vulnerable households.
And so what these protections are essentially as they tell all the utilities. Within the states, that over a certain time period they're not allowed to disconnect houses that can't pay for their energy bills. What I would say, roughly half the states adopted some form of protection, particularly in the early months of the pandemic, starting around mostly in April.
But now as we are six, seven months into the pandemic, we're seeing many of these states letting these protections expire. This map is actually a little outdated, these protections are changing on almost a daily basis. But what you can see here is that many states recently had expirations, and many more have expirations as of the end of September.
And when households are not protected from being disconnected, of course, then they will face these certain forms of mental and physical stress. Now we've already seen just many headlines over the the past few months as these utility protections are expiring that we can see that households, 35 million in one state, or 35 million across the country, and pretty big numbers in various states are quite compromised as a result of these lapsing protections.
Okay, so the research questions that we have posed as a result of this project is one, just a very broad question, given the paucity of data that exists right now in terms of the problem, we asked the question of just how prevalent is energy insecurity within the United States.
But then secondly, has this insecurity or have rates of insecurity actually gone up as a result of the pandemic? We asked, what factors then lead households to be more or less energy insecure, both generally as well as during the pandemic? And what are the implications for households when they are energy insecure?
So, for example, what kinds of cooking strategies might they adapt in terms of their behaviour as well as other forms of material hardship, how they spend their money, where they seek assistance, if they have access to assistance, if they have access to legal services, and so forth. So this is our project.
Now I will talk about some of the conceptual work that is underpinning our work. So, the the broad literature, we've bucketed here, one is the literature on energy insecurity, and understanding the problem. The second is thinking about the public health outcomes of being insecure. A third is thinking about the difference between acute and chronic insecurity.
So long term insecurity every single month. For example, a household might not be able to pay its energy bills versus acute, if there are shocks, for example, that send a household into this state of insecurity. And of course, the pandemic is one such form that might send a household into acute insecurity.
And we also pull from the literature on material hardship as well as the evolving literature on energy justice, which I'll say, is the founding framework that Dave, and I, and Michelle, and Trevor have adopted as we've thought about these challenges. So we're always thinking about just generally, what are the justice implications of our evolving energy systems?
And this energy insecurity is a prime one. So, contributions of this work. One is to produce quantitative analysis, and actually have data that we can use to get a sense of the magnitude of the problem. And the data come from a survey, a sample of Americans under 200% of the federal poverty line, as I'll describe in just a slide or two.
We also are able to establish a pre-pandemic baseline. And so get a sense of who is energy insecure, even predating the pandemic. And then also have these measures of post, beginning of pandemic, how are households changing in their insecurity? And then we also have multiple measures of energy insecurity.
Which we range in severity, if you can just press the arrow over David, yeah, here we go. So the least severe would be, you cannot pay your energy bill, which of course is very severe in terms of consequence for a household that's in that condition. But if they cannot pay their energy bill, then they may, or will likely receive a notice of disconnection from their utility provider.
And then the most severe form of insecurity then is being disconnected from the utility provider. So, in our work, we're leveraging this schema. Okay, so, a few points about research design. Our survey, or our design for our broader project is to administer a survey on a panel of individuals.
And we are approaching this panel at four different points in time over the course of an entire year. So here we've created a timeline for you. You can see that the pandemic began in March, well, technically, it began before March, but this is when it really was truly obvious to everyone that the pandemic was here.
And this is when we started to see extreme unemployment increases. We then administered our first survey within two months of the beginning of those experiences in April and May. We also recently administered our second round of survey in August, which was to account for all the warm months.
So think about what might happen when it's particularly hot outside and we have heat waves. And what kinds of behaviors or challenges a household might face if they are unable to pay for their energy but they still need to be cool. Our third wave of survey data administration will be around December or January.
The objective here is to get a particularly cold month, to think through some of the implications for households when they are facing very cold conditions. I'll note that people die more frequently from hot temperatures. However, in very cold temperatures, one or a household might resort to particularly unsafe behaviors, such as using space heaters, for example, or even using an electric oven that's opened to heat a room.
And then our final form our final wave will be in March or April, approximately one year after the wave began. So, we're tracking the same households, approximately 2000 households, over the course of this entire year, through different seasons. Our first survey in Wave 1, we had 2,381 households, and these are adults that the household income is within 200% of the federal poverty line.
So these are low income households. Our survey was administered online, it was approximately 10 to 15 minutes long, and it was administered by YouGov, to a nationally representative sample of this population, the 200% of the federal poverty line. And we asked questions about energy insecurity, including the various degrees of insecurity.
We have questions that identify on certain demographics, behavioral responses, health, both mental and physical health, the degree to which households take or apply for government assistance, as well as a variety of housing conditions. And we also ask questions about how energy insecurity was in the past year, in the past three months, and in the past month.
And what we'll present on today are just points specifically from the past month, in the past year. We also were very fortunate to be able to have Indiana samples specifically, and this is also a representative. Which is pretty incredible for a survey firm to be able to pull such a sample, but it's also within 200% of the federal poverty line.
So today what we're presenting is both include the results from the national sample as well as the Indiana specific sample.
>> Okay, sorry, I had to find my unmute button. Great, so I'm David. Thank you, Sanya for getting us started and thanks to Sarah and John for hosting us.
Sanya did an incredible job considering I was the one getting the PowerPoint slide. So that was very fluid, so Kudos to you. So what I wanna do is sort of take us through some of the results. And as Sanya noted, I will talk both about the national sample but as well as have a few slides on the Indiana survey.
The results we'll focus mostly got on our initial wave. So think about the time period of around April, May, being sort of the period of when that that survey was in the field. But I'll also share some preliminary findings from tthe second wave which was in August, as Sanya mentioned.
So the first research question, if you recall is that we're really curious about is trying to get a better handle on the prevalence of energy insecurity. And to see the rate at which that varies by different sort of population subgroups. So in this graphic, what you're looking at is sort of a select number of household characteristics and some demographics across our three measures of energy insecurity.
So there's a lot to unpack in this figure. But what you're looking at is for proportions of our respondents that indicated that during the past year or during the past month whether they were unable to pay energy bill. And then similarly, where did they receive a disconnection notice from their utility provider, and then the blue is they're actually disconnected.
The full bar represents the proportion that during some point in last year had sort of met one of these or responded in this way to these energy and security measures. And then the hash marks gives you a sense of just those in the last month. So that's sort of the orientation of the figure.
So what's quite striking about these just prevalence results is that you see really big differences across different segments of the population. So one of the really interesting findings is that people who are living in poor housing conditions. So here, think about people and houses who they may be drafty, they may have mold.
They may have broken or not functioning well HVAC systems. And it's in those cases where people are struggling the most with these energy insecurity measures, right? Both in terms of inability to pay bills, as well as receiving notices and actually being disconnected. Simply people who are in households where someone relies on a lot on an electronic medical device, right?
So the very people who need electricity to maintain their well-being are more likely to be energy insecure across each of our measures compared to those that do not. And then in terms of, you also see something very similar with households of children under five. And then also we find very prominent differences across sort of racial and ethnic groups, right?
One of the core things we are learning which furbish confirms what others have spoken to in the literature is that black and Hispanic households are facing much more severe energy insecurity compared to their white counterparts. So this is just one sort of quick sort of analysis. It gives you a sense of how these measures vary across different segments of the population.
Just as a reminder, all of these respondents sort of meet our income threshold. So these are people who are at to represent of the federal poverty line or lower as a household income. So what does that mean? So those are our survey results, but one of the things we can do then is sort of take those estimates to get a sense of just how prominent a problem this is across the entire US population.
That's what we do in this table. And sort of the top part of the table expresses this in terms of the number of households. And the bottom looks at number of individuals. So if you sort of use our estimates then and sort of come up with these aggregate numbers, you see that we're talking about 4 million households.
5 million households at some point during the last year, were unable to pay the energy bill and would receive a notice that their service may be disconnected. And about 2 million people overall actually had their service disconnected. One early indication that things got worse during the early months of the pandemic is that a really large percentage portion of those overall numbers are current just in the last month.
Which for our respondents again means sort of April, May time period of this of this year. Those are certain terms of households like a number of integral individuals we're talking about. 25 million individuals over the past year who were unable to pay energy bill, about half of those would have occurred in the early years, sorry, the early bunch, the pandemic and you can see the similar numbers.
So this more than anything else shows I think, illustrates that this is a pretty big problem. This is not something that is just happening to a few vulnerable households across the country. This is an issue that is quite prevalent, and so I noted it's sort of an underappreciated form of material hardship.
Okay, so the next question is what factors predict chronic energy insecurity and the sort of statistical analysis that we do. And also your results from is logistic regression, which we're gonna look at the correlates of both chronic and acute energy insecurity. We are accounting for state level phenomenon that might be sort of common to our respondents that might affect somebody outcomes.
And just for the remodeling boss who might be more convinced by a more standard linear regression model, all of our results are consistent sort of regardless of what kind of approach you take. So what the regression analysis allows us to do is look to see what the independent effects are of different demographics, as well as different household conditions sort of holding other factors constant, right?
So you can sort of look at these as are the independent effects of, for example, needing an electronic device in your household or having a household that defies as black or Hispanic. So what these odds ratios which we show here, display and we have results both for the last year as well as the last month, is that if there's an odds ratio above one, then you are more likely to have responded in the survey that you were unable to pay the energy bill.
That you received a shutoff notice and then in fact you were disconnected. And what I wanna highlight in these results is that those factors that sort of seem to come out in that sort of descriptive bar graph table or chart that I showed you a few minutes ago, all for the hand, all sort of remain to a moresort of sophisticated regression approach.
And some of the really strong determinants or correlates these measures of energy and security are households with children under five, those relying on an electronic medical device. Households that are black or Hispanic, particularly poor households. So remember again, our samples are people who are Have household incomes of 200% of the federal poverty line or lower.
And what we show, at least over the last year, is that those who are at 100% or below are particularly hard hit. And then, notably, people who are living in housing conditions which are on average not as great are suffering the most as well. So what's interesting about these results, if you sort of look on the left hand side and on the right hand side is that they're pretty consistent over the last year and the last month.
But some of the effects over the last month get bigger, right? So the way to sort of think about this is, who's getting hardest hit, or who was most affected in terms of energy insecurity during that early period of time of the COVID pandemic? And here we see that effects of race really sort of stand out, as well as those of poor housing conditions, and families needing an electronic medical device.
So long story short here, the point is that these demographic characteristics are pretty strong indicators of who's facing energy insecurity across the country. Okay, so let me try to say more about the impact of the COVID pandemic. I think we can learn a little bit just from looking at those two graphics as I just presented.
But we designed the survey to be a little bit more specific, a little bit more fine tuned to try to get at this particular question, which is, in what ways the COVID pandemic exacerbated energy insecurity. And the way we did that is we asked a series of additional questions that you sort of can think about as being COVID specific, right?
So these range from asking people if they, or someone in their household, had symptoms of COVID or if they had a positive test. We looked at people who had lost lost income from job loss. So these could be people who were unemployed or who were furloughed or had reduced hours.
We asked about a whole series of COVID impacts, in particular, whether people were less able to pay their rent or mortgage, or meet other sort of household needs. And we also asked whether or not people received their stimulus checks as part of the CARES act. So what this graph is showing is individuals in terms of how they responded to these questions, alongside these energy insecurity indicators.
And what you can see, if you look at people who have some COVID symptoms themselves or someone in their household had these symptoms, they're more likely to be energy insecure, that's implied from this graph. Certainly people who faced some sort of economic hardship as a result of the pandemic were also, perhaps unsurprisingly, more likely to face energy insecurity.
And I think I wanna sort of highlight the very last part of the graph, which shows that the stimulus checks, the first thing to note is we've been finding pretty high prevalence of people who have not received their check. In our most recent survey, we found that just about 30%, I think it was, of the people had received their CARES check.
So that's kind of a striking statistic on its own. But certainly people who are not receiving this additional assistance which is intended obviously to help them meet their household needs, they are more likely to face energy insecurity, in terms of not being able to pay a bill and receiving shut-off notices and also being disconnected.
These kinds of results, just if you're curious, hold up in a regression framework. So this is just showing you sort of coefficients from a similar kind of model that we did before. These models control for all those other factors I already showed you. So on top of race, on top of housing conditions, on top of households needing medical device, people who are disproportionately affected by the COVID pandemic, this is uniquely contributing to their energy insecurity, right?
So the big inference to make from these results is that the pandemic and the economic dislocation that has resulted has really exacerbated energy insecurity, right? So people who may chronically be suffering from this problem or experiencing this problem, they are more likely to even be exacerbated for those individuals.
And there probably are new people who are being brought into an energy insecurity stage, whereas they may have been more energy secure pre pandemic. So just to sort of summarize some of those findings, the pandemic we think has really deepened energy insecurity. As I already noted, there are these independent effects of the pandemic as we've measured them, which are contributing to our understanding of who's energy insecure.
And the good news about the CARES act is that it seems to have helped. For those people who actually received the support, it did reduce their chances of being energy insecure. The challenge is that not as many people received their support as probably should have. Okay, so those were the national sort of wave one results.
I'm gonna spend just a few minutes quickly going through some of the Indiana results and then give you sort of a sense of what we've been finding in our subsequent wave two. So as Sonja mentioned, we've basically ran the exact same survey instruments among a state representative sample here in Indiana.
This graphic just simply shows you where our respondents come from. And the survey was designed to to be geographically representative. So we're sort of hitting each part of the state but also to be representative of, again, the same income population here in Indiana. And what's remarkable, I mean, I think, remarkable, or at least noteworthy, is that we find basically the same thing, right.
The same factors that exist and come out as being important in our national survey emerge in the Indiana specific survey. Now in particular, race and ethnicity, for Blacks and Hispanics are much more likely to face energy security across all of our measures. It's particularly noteworthy that as the measures or as the energy insecurity gets more and more severe, so our measures are more, they're more severe,hese race factors are particularly prominent.
But we're also finding that poor housing conditions, the amount people are spending on energy, all kind of hang out in the Indiana survey. We're still sort of working through the Indiana results, but I think that the big lesson is that Indiana, we're special in many ways, but the problem is certainly present in an Indiana as well.
Okay, so how have things gotten worse over the course of the summer? As Sonja, we've just gotten results back from the second wave of our survey, which was in the field in the middle, so the early to mid part of August. And our whole purpose for doing this panel design is allowing us to track households over the course of a full year.
And the August timing in particular is important because it's a hot month, right? So it's a period of time where people may have additional demand to use electricity for cooling needs. So just to give you a sense of what we learned from from wave two, and this will be a brief part of the presentation.
One of the new areas we're asking in wave two, is we're trying to get a handle on what kind of utility debt people are beginning to accrue, right. And one of the things we've learned is that nearly two out of the five households that we interviewed, that we surveyed, has some sort of utility debt, right.
So this is on top of other kinds of debt, certainly these households have credit card debt. They have student loan debt, all the other kinds of debts that people tend to have. But these are cases where people have a balance on their utility bill, right? So these are the very people who are at risk of receiving a disconnection notice and being disconnected from their utility provider.
About 20%, I believe have utility debt of about $100 or more and about 1% had over $1,000 or more in debt. So now, one of the implications of the shut-off policy protections that Sonia was talking about earlier was that while they put, they were more toria on actual disconnections.
They are not designed to alleviate the long term reality that phil sought to pay the bills that they use, that associate they use. So just because you're not gonna get shut off does not mean you won't have to go back in time and pay off the debt that you've been accruing.
So one of the things we're tracking our surveys is how bad utility the debt burden is getting for daddy's low income households. So a couple other interesting numbers 38% of respondents across both ways had received their stimulus checked. We should probably emphasize they're only 38%, right? So this is a population that this aid would have been most helpful for and our results show that would make a difference, at least for us relieving some energy insecurity.
But strikingly, just under 40% of our respondents actually received their carers check. We also found out about over 7% of house individuals in our survey were evicted over the summer. And just in terms of some other trade-offs or other interesting factoids, 64% require prescription medication. And 18% of those cannot fill their prescription since COVID began.
So we're trying to sort of track, now our work is really about energy and security. But we're trying to track more generally how energy security sort of fits into the larger sort of portfolio of material hardship that these households are facing. In terms of the energy and security measures themselves in terms of wave too, or now really looking across from both ways of our surveys.
Since May, our best estimates are about 20% of these low income households faced a month where they could not pay a bill, right? About 50% received a shut-off notice and 6 to 7% were actually disconnected. Again, it bears repeating that this is a period of time when we had these protection policies in place which are now largely expiring.
So we have every reason to expect that the rates of disconnection are going to increase In the coming months. And that's particularly problematic, given we're heading into the colder part of the year where people are reliant on these services. The effects based on race and ethnicity are quite prominence.
This is again, sorta aggregating across both of our surveys. You can see that Blacks, for example, are more than twice as likely not to have been able to pay an energy bill compared to Whites, similarly for Hispanics. And even more striking is the difference between Blacks, and Hispanics, and Whites both receiving a notice and being disconnected, right?
So the racial disparities are really, they're front and center in all of the analysis we've been doing, and a topic that we are spending a lot of time thinking about, okay? Let me just finish with some discussion implications, and we're very interested to hear people's questions and have some discussion.
So we've already sort of mentioned seasonal implications, right? So one of the ideas in doing this research is that, the energy and security may vary in intensity because of the time of year, right? So summer presents his own set of problems because of how hot it gets and the need for cooling whether it be air conditioners or fans, whether it's having well insulated homes, etc.
There are different set of challenges that emerged during the winter months when it gets extremely cold. One of the things we'll try to do in our next survey is to expand beyond electricity. A lot of people will use other sources of energy in order to keep their homes warm, while that can be natural gas, it could be heating oil.
And we want to extend our thinking to those kinds of sources as well, as I think made pretty clear. There are these really prevalent racial disparities in energy and security. And obviously, this is not the only place where we see racial disparities and health outcomes and economic outcomes.
And one of the things we're trying to unpack is, really wish there is sort of systematic biases or discrimination or other kind of inequities that are driving these results around these surveys of disparities that we're finding. And there's this compounding effect, right? So we see racial disparities here, but as we all know people of color have been disproportionately hurt economically because of the pandemic.
They're more likely to face health implications of COVID in terms of both getting symptoms, or getting COVID, as well as higher mortality rates. So all these things are sort of interacting in a way that's quite devastating, that's something we wanna be able to think more about. As we've noted, the shock moratoriums are basically coming to an end.
We've been tracking these since the beginning of the pandemics. Underneath these emergency measures are sort of a patchwork of state policies that provides some protections for individuals. The emergency provisions added some additional protections. But as these expire, we wanna understand what this is going to mean for energy insecurity.
And in all likelihood, it's going to exacerbate the problems that we are demonstrating through our research. I mentioned the problem of debt accrual. And then, another dimension which we really haven't talked too much about today, that we're studying through the surveys and in other work is, thinking about where government can step in, right?
So there are a couple of government programs at the federal level that are designed to help people with this problem. The low income, home, I always get this act this one, the Home Energy Assistance Program, I think it is. A likely for short, is designed to help people meet for acute energy needs, right?
So if you can't meet your bill for one month, you can get some assistance. If you have sort of a breakdown in equipment, you can get some assistance. But this is a small program that is underfunded and it is that funds get exhausted early in the year often, so they're not available during hot summer months.
So clearly there's more need for these kinds of assistance programs. There was sort of a short term infusion of dollars through the Cares Act into the likely program. But certainly, not enough to meet a demand, but that program is designed to deal with sort of acute problems, all right?
And what's lacking is programs to help people improve their housing conditions. For example, so there is a federal program, the Weatherization Assistance Program which is intended to provide resources to help folks insulate their homes, make sure that their equipment is working efficiently, etc. But that program, she was pretty small, and we know that there are disparities and who gets access to those resources.
So clearly, given the material hardship people are facing in this realm. Additional government assistance would be one solution to meeting this challenge. And for us as a research team, we're just starting to get started on this, we have a lot of work to do around energy insecurity. The research we present today is really about the prevalence of the problem, and who's more likely to experience it.
Our surveys are also designed to. Try to understand how people are coping, right both behaviorally as well as financially. So we will be continuing to ask questions in those areas and we'll do analysis as we go through subsequent waves of the survey, we sort of mentioned for the patchwork upticks, neck disconnection protection policies.
We wanna understand the impact of those policies. We're curious about what people do when they face energy insecurity, when they receive a shutoff notice for example, are they able to access legal services? What other kind of resources are they able to find to help them through those challenging times.
Raising questions about trust and utility providers and the degree to which people's trust changes their behavior or changes the way they sort of cope with these kinds of problems. So we have a very full plate on our hands. And we expect this to sort of keep us busy for the coming months and longer.
And we're very interested to hear what kind of questions you have. And part of her motivation for presenting research like this is that we are sort of constantly learning from interactions and people's feedback and it helps her guide them the kind of questions that we take on. So thank you very much and look forward to our discussion.
>> Super, super, thank you guys. Thank you very much for the nice presentation. Let me remind our participants, you can send your questions in via chat. I've got a couple of them here in front of me. And so we can start with those. I've taken a few notes here and I've got some questions on my own.
So let me go ahead and begin with some questions that we received from the audience here. And David, I think you touched upon it a fair amount, and David, I don't know if you wanna scroll back or if you wanna put your screen to maybe non present mode so we can refer to the slides in a more effective way.
But I think he maybe covered some of these questions in some of your comments, does your survey the survey tools that you use and the results that you got capture the effects and the impacts of the state run Energy Assistance programmes during the time of COVID?
>> So I can take that.
So we Insomnia may have to refresh my memory. So we ask people so one of the questions we ask people is if they sought financial assistance to help pay energy bills. And we asked about a whole different sort of portfolio potential sources, right? So it could range from, no, I asked a friend or a family member or I sought out assistance from a faith based organization or another or nonprofit organization.
And we certainly we asked about access to federal assistance programs. I believe we also asked about sort of a government agency you in general, I don't recall if we specified a state versus a local signing might remember, but I we haven't looked closely at those data yet. I couldn't give you a sense of what proportion of respondents sort of chose that path or were successful in getting assistance from a state agency.
That's where the first answer to the question. Second thing I would note is we know locally, for example, that people have the ability to get some assistance through sort of government programs that are being administered there at the city level or at the county level. So it's certainly possible that there are other sources of financial assistance, at least in the short term during the pandemic, I don't have great sense that that's available to people sort of writ large during quote unquote, normal times.
So I would add that as well.
>> I'll just add one other thing, the lykki program that David talked about, as well as the wapp to the short term infusion of money to help pay for a bill as well as the money to help weatherize one's home are both functionally state programs.
They're actually national programs but the money funnels then through the states determine how to allocate it and what the eligibility requirements are and so forth. So, it's possible that for question, you were actually thinking about the like, even the walk program. We do we not only ask about it, but we control for it in our studies and I think you might have seen in the Indiana one in particular, that light heap is important and it does help with energy and security.
But again, it's very short term temporary assistance.
>> That inquiry is about federal programs government programs. Another facet to that in the second part of this question is have nonprofits had a significant impact have there been some non government kinds of impacts in terms of helping energy security either historically or in in the frame of your of your survey a time.
>> We, Michelle's on this call and maybe I'm just calling her out without being able to see if
>> Michelle has done yeah, thumbs up. Okay, so Michelle has done quite a bit of perusing of our data in terms of nonprofit organizations and financial assistance. And I think that across the board, what she's finding is that all of these forms of assistance can help.
And that's just generally from our long term work on energy just as we find that nonprofits please play a really important role in Energy Justice Programs and in helping vulnerable communities. So these findings are reaffirmed though we don't in any of the papers we have right now. We don't focus very specifically on the nonprofit assistance.
>> Okay, good. Now I'm delighted to ask this next question here. What effect could energy and security during COVID have on the transition to clean energy? So we're all transitioning, and there's some economic and social implications to that energy justice implication. So what about that, relative to this transition that we're sort of in
>> That's a tough one.
>> Yeah. It's interesting question, and to be candid, when we first started talking about doing research around energy and security. That was our frame. That was what we were thinking about. Right? We began this work start couple years ago, obviously pre-COVID. And there are many ways in which the energy transition could, for example, raise electricity prices for some people in some areas, right.
So as you sort of move away from fossil fuels to renewables and some places, that's has very little cost implications. Other places may drive up electricity costs, as utilities, modernize their grids and seek recovery for those investments that could increase rates. Right? So COVID aside I think the two big points to make is that some people across the country just pay more for electricity, right?
So they're gonna be disproportionately affected by those kinds of changes. We also know that's sort of the energy burden, which is sort of this idea that it's sort of how much of your disposable income do you pay for it for energy needs. There are disparities in that. It turns out that people of colour, for example, pay more of their sort of disposable income on energy than then sort of white folks.
And that's controlling for things like housing conditions or other factors like region in the country that might drive absurd energy costs. So I think it's a long way of saying sort of energy security is not specific to COVID at all. Certainly it's gotten worse. But this is a problem that's, pretty prevalent across the country.
And anything that results in higher energy prices is gonna have these two disproportionally
>> I'll just add on top of that, that one possible intervention or public policy type approach that one could take is to help these households with energy efficiency as well as provide them with access to clean energy technologies such as solar panels.
Right so the energy efficiency would bring down their their energy bills. Solar panels would allow them to offset their energy bills, and possibly even sell some of their electricity to the grid. Solar panels or storage units or something like that would also help these households have more energy autonomy.
And not be so reliant on their electricity provider which, from what we're finding mistrust and decades of poor relations, I think really harm the the interaction between the two. So I think that there, there's possibility for, Government assistance that is moving towards a clean energy transition to specifically help these households.
>> Good, good, good, other questions from our audience, type them in, I'll do it, let me let me carry the ball in the meantime. And David, you alluded to this a little bit, your assessment on energy insecurity is in the context of other hardships, use as terms other hardships, what is the relative percentage or impact?
You had one graph, it was a nice graph, a bar graph at the beginning, I think it averaged out at about 5% of income. We talked about, you implied this business about regressiveness, as your income goes down, the impacts go up. When we compare that with housing or medical expenses or clothing or food, there's assistant programmes, there's also hardship.
Where does energy fit in that gamut of other dimensions and hardships. Either of you, I mean, David, you brought it up.
>> Sonia do you have sort of, a quantitative sense of what that looks like?
>> No, we don't ask actually for full information about all of their bills so that we have a sense of how much they're paying for energy versus other things.
We do ask a question, though about as a result of paying your energy bills, whether you have a difficult time or you must forego expenses on other things. At the end of the first survey so the first three months of the pandemic, it was a 28% of our respondents said yes, I don't remember the wave too, but I think it was much higher.
So, you know, at least a third of our respondents face these trade offs, I'll just add some anecdotal evidence that from talking to. Actually the NAACP has a chapter in Gary and they've rolled out this really innovative I think program where they have both short term as well as long term assistance.
So they've targeted households, low income households that are struggling to pay their energy bills and they're providing immediate financial assistance to help these households pay their bill. But also working with the households and weatherization programs, as well as financial literacy and all kinds of, efforts to help them in the long run, be able to pay their energy bills.
And what I really like about this is the kind of dual approach, and now I'm losing my train of thought as to how that pertains to energy and expenses. One thing that I've heard from speaking with the representative who's leading this charge. Is just how many households within this region that they're working on through this NAAC program have faced these very trade offs this summer in particular because their children are at home.
And their children aren't in school and they either homeschooled or they were just home through the whole summer. And some of these parents are at home, some of them are working like on the front line, right? And so the challenge is to what kinds of things can they do for their children to make sure that they're babysat functionally right, so that they have something to do.
And so, it was noted that these households are spending a lot of money on electronic devices or tablets or even a pool or something to just occupy their children during that time. And that actually is more important than putting money towards food for example, or energy.
>> Just swipe, yeah, I'm sure there's data out there, I'm sure there's rough percentages that you could qualitatively compare.
I mean, is that is that 5%, is that half of what, housing burdens are, I suspect it's less than the housing burden. I assume a housing burden is 10, 12, 14, 15% of an income, I assume food is up high too. So when we think about the the the impacts of this hardship relative to others, and there's always not enough resources to go around and how do we effectively help and stimulate.
And obviously the synergies you talked about Sonia are really important. If we can do something that helps employment and helps jobs and maybe even some other aspects of energy security at the same time of health impacts, that's a wonderful thing. Let's see, do I have any more questions, I don't see any there, that gives the moderator the chance with the three more minutes left to choose one of my own.
Here's a zinger, you started with the stuff there was some EIA data, right? Yeah, this is, I assume that EIA data is aggregated all energy costs, so, inside of that is electricity and natural gas and transportation fuels. So I think maybe, it's almost just a suggestion to look at in the future, very important aspect of hardship, I would say in our very mobile, American society is the ability to move around and we're very, transportational.
We're very personal auto centric, and so if you can't pay for insurance, if you can't pay for the fuel for your car, if you can't pay for payments to your vehicle. This to me is energy insecurity in the same sense, you can't go to your job you can't go to the doctor kind of thing.
Thoughts on that notion relative to this stuff you did on electricity in the home.
>> Yeah, I completely agree with you, I think that it's it's another aspect of the same problem. Though with the pandemic, people are driving less and so one could surmise that there are some savings there that could then be applied to home electricity bills, or natural gas bills.
But I agree with you, that's also, equally problematic.
>> I fear they're driving less because the schools are closed and they're out of work and those two big factors they're unable to move around. Okay, we've got a minute or so left here, any final thoughts or questions from our audience?
>> I should have for the singing children in the background, I don't know if you guys can hear them but I,
>> Do have singing children, I'm missing it.
>> I'm glad you're missing it.
>> A little life there, thank you guys very much for your thought provoking and interesting work.
I wish you the best as you move forward with the very important questions, and I think Sarah, you have a word or two to finalize with.
>> Yeah, thanks, John, let me second your thanks to Sonia and David, very important research and it's just incredibly interesting. Thank you, John for moderating this session, and thanks to our audience for tuning in and for your thoughtful questions.
We look forward to your participation in future resilient speaker sessions. The dates and times are on the screen, so please look to the ERI or IPE website for the calendar registration link. Thanks again and have a wonderful weekend everybody, Bye bye.
>> Thanks, everyone.
Energy Insecurity in the Time of COVID-19
This talk focused on nationwide and Indiana survey results focused on the prevalence of energy insecurity, the factors that contribute to it, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated it.
Dana Habeeb - October 16, 2020
Description of the video:>> Hello everyone, welcome to the ERI, or the fall Environmental Resilience Series, jointly presented by IUs integrated program on the environment, and the Environmental Resilience Institute. Before we start, I'd like to make the following statement. Indiana University wishes to acknowledge and honor the Miami, Delaware, Pottawatomie and Shawnee people on whose ancestral homelands and resources Indiana University was built.
So both IPE and ERI are founded on the understanding that interdisciplinary learning and research are essential to teach today's scholars, and to solve today's problems. IPE is dedicated to bringing together all the environmental and sustainability scholarship across the various schools and departments on the Bloomington campus. IPE is made up of over 120 faculty and nearly 1000 students studying the environment from all angles, the sciences, arts and humanities across more than 25 degree programs.
ERI was founded in 2017 as part of the IU Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge. Its mission is to enhance resilience to environmental change in Indiana and beyond by accurately predicting impacts, and effectively partnering with communities to implement feasible, equitable, and research informed solutions. So first I'd like to thank Sarah Mincey from IPE, and Marianna Canes from the O'Neill School, who helped organize a seminar speaker series.
We've had a wide variety of speakers over the course of the semester, and we have more to come. And our speakers are sharing their experiences, research, and insights with us. In particular, our speakers will focus on topics relevant to the issues, systemic racial inequality, environmental injustice. And the need for a just transition to a future that's healthy, and safe for all people, not just those you have been privileged by centuries of inequitable systems in societies.
You'll be able to find more information about each talk on the ERI and IPE websites, and you can also sign up for regular newsletters. So we encourage you to sign up for our newsletters, so that you can get reminders about these upcoming events. So please be sure to keep your audio muted.
And whenever you have questions as you think of them, type them in the chat box, and we'll monitor the chat box throughout the talk. And there will be an opportunity at the end for questions to be answered, and those will be directed to the speaker from our moderator, Heather Reynolds, who is now gonna introduce our speaker today.
>> Hi, everybody. It's great to be here with you today. I am delighted to introduce Dana Habib. She is an assistant professor currently in the Department of Informatics here at IUs Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, otherwise known as SICE. Dana was trained as an architect and urban designer.
I love that. She has master's degrees in City and Regional Planning, and in architecture, as well as a PhD in City and Regional Planning. These all come from the Georgia Institute of Technology. And her research explores climate responsive design interventions can help to mitigate climate change, and improve the health of individuals and communities.
And we have been really fortunate to have her as a member of the Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge working group in urban green infrastructure. Where she has been mapping local climate zones to better understand people's heat exposure in Bloomington and Indianapolis, as well as mapping green stormwater infrastructure, and developing an edible tree map for Bloomington.
So with that, I'd like to turn it over to Dana.
>> Thank you, Heather, so much for that introduction, and welcome everyone. Thank you for being here today. I'm gonna go ahead and share my screen with you all. Great, can everyone see that? Wonderful, so thank you all for being here today.
Today I'm gonna be talking about extreme heat vulnerability, and what we can do to protect and empower communities. In this talk, I'm gonna go over three main topics. I'm gonna first talk about work that we've done with heatwave trends. Then I'm gonna talk about different types of mitigation strategies that we can use at the local level.
And then I'm gonna talk about some more recent work that I'm doing with sensing technology. I'd like to start with the discussion on extreme heat and public health. We see that in the United States, more people die to extreme heat than any other form of natural disasters. On average, we can see upwards of 1300 people who will die to extreme heat per year in the United States on average.
And we can look at historical heatwaves, such as the European heatwave of 2003, and the Russian heatwave of 2010to see some of these examples of extreme heatwaves. Where in each of these events, over tens of thousands of individuals lost their lives during these individual events. These two heatwaves rank among two of the deadliest natural disasters in the past century.
And it really illustrates the importance of extreme heat to public health. We see that cities are more vulnerable to extreme heat because of what is known as the urban heat island effect. And the urban heat island effect occurs when we see temperatures in cities are higher than in their surrounding rural area.
This temperature differential is due to basically how we are designing cities. We are displacing the natural vegetation in cities, and replacing them with impervious surfaces, such as roads, parking lots, and buildings. And all that impervious surface goes to raise temperatures in urban environments. But one thing that we don't just see a distinction between urban and rural and temperatures, but we actually see that temperatures vary dramatically within a city, and that we see a lot of different microclimates.
And as Heather brought up some of the work that we're doing with the urban green infrastructure is mapping local climate zones. What urban climatologist have found is that there are different types of microclimate zones that really impact temperatures. And so we can expect that temperatures are higher in downtown areas, and they would be in a more residential area.
And so for example, we can see this variation. This is some work that I did last year, looking at temperatures on campus. And we can say a day of September that between Luddy parking lot on an unused campus and Dunn Woods, we see an 8.5 degrees difference in these two areas, which are pretty close together.
So not only do we see that cities are consistently higher than their rural areas, but we also see that temperatures and cities are actually increasing at a faster rate in rural areas. And some of the work that we've done has found that urban temperatures are rising at double the rate.
Cities are even more vulnerable to extreme heat because of this increase in trends. And then cities are more vulnerable because of what we're seeing with climate change. In the past five years, we have the hottest years on record with 2016 still the hottest year from start to end.
And as you all know This has been definitely a trying year for climate change where we really have it on the forefront of our mind. So I'd like to transition into some of the work that we did with heat wave trends. And so with looking at extreme heat in cities, I really want to investigate how are heat waves changing specifically in cities?
And so to do this work, I looked at the five largest US cities across the United States and I tracked heat wave changes over 50 years. When tracking these heat wave changes, I defined extreme heat events based on Gaffen and Ross definition that a heat extreme heat event is any day in which the apparent temperature exceeds the 85th percentile, the long term temperature average, of a particular location.
The phrase particular location is really important here because we are using the local climate trends for each MSA to base on these EHEs. And that's really important when looking at health effects in determining what is an EHE. We used apparent temperature, was combination of temperature and humidity because we know that humidity really impacts our body's ability to cool itself and is a better measure, apparent temperature is a better measure of heat stress.
We used the National Climate Data Center Heat Stress Index for the temperature. And we specifically were looking at daily minimum apparent temperatures, minimum referring to high nighttime temperatures. And we define heat waves as any two consecutive events, EHEs that lasted two days. We're really interested in looking at specific heat wave characteristics.
And so, what we would see is that we expect that heat waves that lasted longer would have a stronger impact to health effects because it doesn't allow for people adequate recovery periods. Also we see that heat waves that occur early in the year also impacts public health and mortality effects, because it doesn't give a person's body's ability to acclimatize to these higher temperatures.
So we actually see a huge impact to mortality at the beginning of heat wave seasons. So we wanted to track how heat waves were changing with regard to temperatures. And we're also defining them with minimum temperatures, these high nighttime temperatures. Because minimum temperatures have been shown to be a better association with negative health effects due to extreme heat.
And this is also important for cities because we see that minimum temperatures are amplified in cities because of the urban heat island effect. So what we find from this analysis that we see that all four heat wave characteristics, a frequency duration season intensity are increasing across the United States over the five decades.
We see that heat wave frequency, for example, is increasing by 20% each decade on average across large cities in the US. We didn't just look at this on average across the US. We actually looked at the individual trends for each of the cities. And one thing that we did was we grouped our cities into what we called vulnerable cities.
And a vulnerable city was any city that had a heat wave characteristic that was increasing at a faster rate than the average United States. And you had to have an increasing rate above the US standards in at least two heat wave categories. So these are a list of our vulnerable cities that we identified.
And so we can see that the cities are pretty distributed throughout the United States. Really showing that no matter where large cities are located, cities really need to be planning for extreme heat. Also one thing that we noticed is that cities on this map and especially when we did this analysis that weren't considered hot cities were popping up as vulnerable cities, like San Francisco and Portland.
Los Angeles, which this year is had record heat waves which were unprecedented. And so even during the study we're already picking up these vulnerable cities. San Francisco was ranked as a vulnerable city with regard to three heat wave characteristics, timing, frequency and duration. And San Francisco had the fastest growing heat wave season of all cities in our study.
So for example, heat waves in San Francisco were starting in 1960 by the middle of July. And by the end of our study, we're seeing them start by the beginning of June, the end of May, a month and a half increase in heat wave season. And so this work that I did looking at heat wave trends, I worked with the EPA to actually recreate this methodology, and extend it to present day, and to keep this work being updated to turn this into a Climate Change Indicator.
And so we worked on the data I'm gonna be presenting data are specifically ones who were extended out to 2018. And we didn't just do minimum temperatures, but we added maximum temperatures to look at the different definitions of heat waves. And we did a subset of the analysis as well to look at 1988 to 2018.
Because in a future work that we're working on now is that we wanna look at urban growth, and understand the correlation between urban growth and urban heat islands with regard to the change in heat wave trends. Some cities change in the analysis due to data availability. Let's see, this our data that we had before.
And that we see when we add our next decade, approximately the next decade, we can see this continued increase in our trends with the biggest difference within heat wave frequency and heat wave season. That's what season we see, on average a 16 day increase on average across all cities in our study for heat wave season.
And so we see how what's considered hot in our urban areas, the time of day is really starting to change. This is a map showing this different cities in the study that we're looking at with the graduate symbol representing decadal change rate for each of the heat wave characteristics, the frequency and season.
And so we also looked at this with regard to minimum and maximum. So here's a slide where we put the two next to each other. So we see the minimum in blue, the maximum in red. And we can see there's not as clear of a pattern as we saw with minimum with regard to maximum.
But when looking at specifically the frequency and season, we see a much clearer relationship between minimum. And we're looking at the last two decades and especially that we're really seeing that minimum temperatures may be starting to outpace maximum temperatures or heat waves when defined as maximum temperatures. And so this is important for two reasons is that we see this difference one thing that we want to tease out as I noticed is this difference between minimum maximum and how we're defining temperatures.
Whether we see that this difference might be caused by urban heat islands. So we see the synergistic effect between urban heat islands and heat waves. And that this is increasing the vulnerability of cities to heat waves and to climate change. One other thing is to note is that there's no consistent heat wave definition.
One of the studies that did a large literature review on different heat wave definitions and metrics used in research has shown that studies use different threshold values, different temperature metrics, different meteorological variables. And so there's no consistent heat wave definition at any level. And so as we can see, depending on how we define find a heat wave whether by minimum or maximum, we can actually see different trends.
And some research is also showing that depending on how you define them, you see different impacts to mortality as well. And so one thing that I noticed when doing the literature review for this paper that we're writing is that we see that of the 16 heat indices exam and only two of them use minimum temperatures.
And so minimum temperatures is being overlooked as An important metric to be used. Minimum temperatures are important for defining extreme heat events because they've been shown to be a better association with negative health effects. When looking and examining the heat wave of 2003 in Europe, researchers found that minimum temperature is one of the biggest drivers for extreme heat related mortality in Paris during that 2003 heat wave.
Also researchers looking at the difference between Europe had a heat wave in 2003, and then another large heat wave in 2006. Comparing these two heat wave events and comparing the mortality between them as well as meteorological conditions. A lot less people died in that 2006 heat wave, even though maximum temperatures were very similar and sustained in the same way.
People argued that this could be because the community was better prepared, because Europe definitely was not prepared in 2003, and so they were better prepared. But also a big difference meteorologically was that the minimum temperature was different, and one of the main climate differences between these two heat waves.
And so this is a discussion we want to bring up, is the importance of knowing how to define our extreme heat events. And also to try to make a standard that can be used for people consistently across the United States. And so the EPA has taken this heat wave trends and they have released it with the US Global Change Research Program.
And now it is one of 16 climate change indicators used for the United States. And so you can see it down here in the bottom. And so this is important because we want our cities to be able to plan for Climate change in cities. Not all cities have the resources to do climate projections or trends analysis, or to run big modeling programs.
But what the EPA is doing is releasing the methodology, the process of releasing the methodology and the access to publicly available data. And so now 189 cities across the United States have access to this data as well as methodology so that they can plan for climate change trends in their specific city.
And so that's one thing that I think is really important for us when thinking about how we can prepare is to understand our risk to climate change and to extreme heat. And the climate change indicator is one way that cities can start doing that. And so what else can we do to plan for events and heat waves.
And so what we're seeing that cities can do is that they can prepare emergency response plans. And so they can look at staffing and make sure that we have appropriate staffing during what really is the heat wave season. And look at infrastructure resilience and public education. And include infrastructure for extreme heat such as cooling centers, especially for vulnerable populations.
But cities can also manage their ambient heat. So one of the research studies that we did, we examine all climate action plans for the largest 50 cities. And when we did this review, we noticed that nine in ten US cities were pursuing policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
But only one in eight were pursuing policies designed to manage ambient heat. And this is an opportunity for cities. And so what it means to manage ambient heat is to manage the urban heat island effect. And we have specific strategies that we can use. We can do albedo strategies.
And albedo strategies are where we are changing the reflectivity of surfaces. Example of their cool roof programs. Or also the work being done in Los Angeles right now with their cool streets where they're really looking at the practicality of actually changing streets, and the albedo of streets, and the cost and the benefit to that.
Albedo strategies are really useful especially for places that don't have a lot of rainfall like Los Angeles. We can look at waste heat strategies and specifically bring an energy efficiency. We see a lot of waste heat from all the machines that are being used in our urban environment, a huge part from transportation sector.
But also from everyone using all their air conditioning and as our main adaptation device during these extreme heat. But we can also look at vegetative strategies. And so vegetative strategies have shown to be one of the most effective strategies at reducing the urban heat island effect in places with sufficient rainfall.
And they've been shown to reduce urban heat island effect by as much as 50%. And so we vegetative strategies can include Green roofs and we can look at Chicago's aggressive, green roof policies that's linked to their FAR policies. And we can also look through urban forestation and programs that big cities like New York and Los Angeles are doing to plant millions of trees within their urban environment.
As well as all the great work that's being done the state agencies to actually support their urban forests by tracking them and managing them and, maintenancing them. And so all of this is great work that can go to making us more resilient to extreme heat. And so we see this is example of Paris.
I was in Paris last year when they had their big heat wave at the end of June and it was an experience to be there. I was there actually giving a talk similar to this on extreme heat. And Paris since it was so impacted by the heat waves and the European heat waves 2003 and 2006 are really pushing really great policies to try to adapt and mitigate heat.
And so Paris is bringing in huge, mature trees into their urban environments in a way that they've never done before. And actually it's interesting for me as an architect and urban designer to see that they're putting them in front of The Opera and the Hotel Deauville, of these iconic buildings that were designed to be open and have a beautiful vistas.
So it's really interesting to see Paris begin to remake itself more as a green city. But they're also, having access, it's important that the public has access to green spaces to cool. But also to spraying and misting systems to cool people in these environments. But also just the presence of water actually cools the near surface air temperatures because of the process of evaporation.
And so with the different strategies, I was really interested to look at the role that urban agriculture can play in lowering temperatures. And so this was some work that I did was I looked at the role that urban agriculture can play as a heat mitigation strategy. Specifically looking in the city of Atlanta.
And so for this work, I looked at both the MSA level for Atlanta and then the city level. I included land cover data and I use temperature data, satellite data that was specifically nighttime data. It was really important that I use nighttime data because number one, as we talked about the minimum temperatures have the stronger effect to heat mortality.
But because I was interested in urban agriculture, I was apotheosizing that agriculture would have a greater potential than other green infrastructure strategies such as tree canopy at actually lowering nighttime temperatures. And so I really want to look at that as well as look at the timing of how well do these green infrastructures perform during times of extreme heat.
For the city level I brought in urban form variables, and so like Heather brought up earlier, we're working on doing local climate zone mapping for Bloomington, Indianapolis right now. And this is one of the reasons why, is so we can see and have a better understanding of how temperatures are changing.
And so this was some of the local climate zone work and the urban form parameters I put into the analysis at the city level. At the MSA level, I found that agricultural lands actually outperform forested lands in reducing nighttime temperatures. And so there are different reasons why we would expect this.
And one of the main reasons is that trees Actually contract temperatures at night because of their wonderful canopy that we use and rely on the daytime that cools in the day. So in no way is this work trying to say that trees are not good for for helping us with extreme heat and heat waves, because they are.
But it's a larger discussion to understand that maybe we have different strategies that we should look at when we're designing these type of green infrastructure strategies. Also, we found that if we increase 10 acres of agriculture within a one kilometer grid cell, that we saw that we could reduce approximately 10% of Atlanta's urban heat island.
And so this is going to this understanding that we can start seeing some impact at this local level. Looking at it at the urban scale, I was really interested to see, number one, if we saw an interaction effect between where we placed agriculture. So for example, if we place agriculture in a dense downtown area, do we see that it decreases temperatures more than if we place it in a residential area?
And what I found in my initial analysis was that I didn't see an interaction effect, that the temperatures decreased, but there was no significant difference in the way they decreased unless I looked at the difference whether a heat wave was occurring. And if a heat wave was occurring, we actually saw a difference in the reduction in temperature, and greater temperature reductions in urban areas.
And so heat wave was acting as an effect modifier, and I think this is a really important thing to bring up. Because when we're designing for communities and green infrastructure, we need to make sure we understand how these strategies work during times of extreme heat, and because these are the times when we need them the most.
I was really interested to see if we see the same amount of decrease in temperatures from agriculture during heat waves. And what I saw was that urban agriculture decreased temperatures less during heat wave as compared during non-heat wave, but retaining approximately 25% of its cooling potential. So it decreased temperatures less, but it still cooled temperatures.
Whereas forests actually started having a slightly positive effect on trees at night. And so this is, again, important with regarding this understanding of timing and the importance of heat waves. I was also interested to see how big of a land do we need. So we're gonna put urban agriculture in to reduce temperatures.
Where do we actually, can we just put a small parcel, is that enough? Or do we need to see a sizable area? And so the work was teasing out that. What we were seeing was approximately 7.5 acres were needed. We start seeing this almost threshold effect happening around the 7.5, where we see decreases of temperatures happening at this one kilometer grid cell.
And so this goes to this understanding that for policies, and this is one thing I want to bring up with how do we make our communities resilient and prepare for extreme heat, is that we really need to design targeted policies, and so targeted policies to actually address these conditions.
So one thing is that we see with agriculture, one of the biggest cooling benefits is that it's often irrigated. And that is that presence of water that helps. But it also has to do with different parameters to model resistance that impacts our cooling potential. And so it's really important that during heat waves, that we're actively managing our green infrastructure, and specifically our urban agriculture.
And this is a hard question during extreme heat, because usually this is hand in hand with droughts. And so communities are going to have to make these tough decisions of how do we decide to use our water. And water is a scarce commodity, and so I don't have a clear answer there.
But this is one of those discussions I want to help contribute to, that if we do want our green infrastructure to help cool us during these times, there needs to be some active management for them. Also, the location of agriculture matters. So urban, we should keep urban agriculture urban.
And so we see a bigger effect during heat waves if we put agriculture into downtown areas, as compared to residential areas. And those were the two, actually, the local climate zones we compared those two. And so this might be going in the face of some policies in some cities who are really pushing to support urban agriculture.
But Philadelphia zoning ordinance, for example, doesn't allow commercial agriculture, or market or community supported farms, in the downtown area. And so there might be good reasons for that. But again, this might be losing the opportunity for agriculture to be able to cool these places. And then, size matters.
And so like we saw that 7.5 acres are needed to start seeing a decrease in temperatures at this one kilometer scale, but the largest farms in the US are around 5 to 6 acres. And there's not a ton of them that are that large. And so we really need to be thinking about how we can leverage public land.
And so Park Pride in Atlanta is a good example of how they're leveraging park space in order to turn that into agriculture space, or Philadelphia has an interesting vacant toolkit. So this brings me to another study that we did, which was a climate modeling that we're looking at specifically.
And so what we were interested in seeing is can we say, if we project client data out to 2050, then can our climate responsive designs cool temperatures up to? And so what we did was we were really interested to see, for example, with these climate adaptation strategies, was that say, for example, if you paint all the roofs in a city white, how would that impact climate?
Or if you put trees in all the variable space, how would that impact climate? And so we looked at this at three different cities. We looked at Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. We looked at their population change and used that for projections up to 2050. We did the climate modeling through WRF, so we used the regional climate model of WRF to do our climate models.
We actually also looked at land cover and looked at how land cover has been changing, and projecting that out to 2050 as well, as an input into our model. And so we developed these different climate scenarios. And the climate scenarios were pretty much based on a greening scenario, an albedo scenario, and then a combination of the two.
And for the greening and the albedo scenario, we designed the policies so that they would target either public land or private land. Cuz we were really looking at policies that would be implemented and enacted for parcel level development, and so policies that cities could use through zoning ordinances or different policy approaches.
And so we put this into a health effects model called BenMAP to also model the effect of the prediction of mortality that would result from different climate factors. And so we see from the analysis that this is showing a difference between business as usual conditions, and so these are grouped by the different policies and the different cities.
And so we can see that these are decreasing in different ways in the different cities, but for the most part, decreasing. And then we can look at this with regard to mortality, and this is looking at the differences in death. And we can look at, how many lives can we save with these type of climate adaptation policies?
And so with the policies, what we found was that places like Phoenix, it was the albedo strategies that worked better in Phoenix than say, the vegetative or the combined. And that makes sense because Phoenix is a very dry and arid place, and so the albedo enhancement policies are gonna be Better suited for a place like that.
Whereas in Atlanta we see that, the combination of the two of the greening, and the albedo have the biggest impact. And that with the all click, when bringing everything together in Atlanta, we could almost reverse the impact, from climate change. And we could save a large, almost 80 to 85% of lives that, would have been lost.
And so, this really gets that understanding or location. So when designing policies, we need to really understand, which policies work for our region or location. But one thing that we also did in this study, which I want to discuss here was that, we looked at the distribution of environmental health benefits, from these different climate adaptations scenarios.
And we looked at this, with regard to the distribution, with regard to the age of the residents and the cities. The medium income and then the race, and we want to see if, we saw differences between these variables. That, if we put these climate adaptation scenarios and very poor areas, do we save more lives?
And if we put them in areas that are wealthier, or if we put them in places that are more predominantly white, versus areas are not white, and so we actually see that, we can save more lives. If we target our policies, to areas especially for Atlanta, Atlanta was the clear one here.
Where we actually see that, we can save more lives if we target our strategies, in areas of low income as well as in, with regard to race. And this is, I think on everyone's mind right now is, I feel we're having this larger discussion of, looking at systemic racism in our communities, in our cities.
And I want to bring up this wonderful New York times article that, I'm sure most of you, had seen that release in August of this year. That really was, illustrating the great series of works that, have been released recently on tying redlining historical, redlining of communities of the past.
To the fact that, we're still seeing the effects of that systemic racism, and that within these red light communities, we see less green infrastructure. And we also see that, these are areas that have the highest temperature. So I want to play another image that, comes from the New York Times article Atlanta here, and so we see areas that were aided areas as bluer than areas that, were degraded If we try much harder.
And so, I think that this again, brings up this importance with regard to policy. And that, not only should we be targeting policies, with regard to how can things reduce temperatures the most, or how large should green infrastructure be. But also, where we can actually save lives the most, and where our most vulnerable populations are located in our communities.
And I think that's an important discussion, for cities and communities, to be able to protect them in the most vulnerable. And so, what we see with vulnerable populations is that, we see that age has a huge impact to vulnerability, to extreme heat. The very old, very young are very vulnerable to extreme heat.
We're actually seeing more focus on extreme athletes, and how they're becoming more vulnerable to heat, by performing their high performance, in these extreme heat conditions. And that, we're even seeing this down to high school football players in college football, an increase of deaths from heat strokes, to these athletes.
To the point that, it got brought up for Congress, something to be discussed, and dealt with. And so for communities, when preparing for extreme heat, we should know, where our vulnerable populations are. So, we should be looking at this, with regard to age and income. But also isolation, isolation is a huge variable with regard to vulnerability, to extreme heat, especially the elderly living alone.
Access to air conditioning is really important, because we see that, air conditioning is our main source adaptation during these times of extreme heat, as well as income. Which those two can go hand in hand, pre existing health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease. And respiratory diseases, all show that increases a person's risk to extreme heat events.
And so, these are vulnerable population characteristics that, community should understand and really be targeted in their communities, as well as understanding exposures. So not only who's more vulnerable, but who's being exposed to higher temperatures. Very similar, to what the New York time article is showing, the researchers looking at redlining, and the correlation of temperatures and infrastructure.
But areas with high impervious surfaces, and lack of green space, housing conditions, and lack of transportation, these are all things that can increase our exposures to extreme heat. I love this quote by a researcher Arnab Chakraborty. Says, we need to better understand where the most vulnerable people are, in order to get to them quickly, and to reduce their vulnerability over time through planning.
And so I suppose, the immediate reaction that we need to be thinking about, extreme heat, as well as how can we increase the resilience over time? I wanna bring up some work that I did on sea level rise, in the Georgia coast, with specifically talking about a vulnerable population.
So we looked at the impact of sea level rise, with regard to physical geographies, and social geographies, and on the Georgia coast. But with social geographies really, we're looking at social vulnerable, and social vulnerable populations. And we work directly with the Gullah Geechee, and the Gullah Geechee is one of the most intact African cultures that, we have in the United States.
With direct ties to West Africa, and their community lives, and is distributed from the Carolinas down to Georgia, and North Florida. And these communities are often located on islands, on the Georgia coast for example, we were working with ones off of Sapelo Island, communities of Sapelo Island. And with sea level rise, we're gonna see a huge impact to these communities, because of them having to retreat on land.
And if they are retreating on land, what is going to happen to this very important, and very rich culture that might be lost? And so when we're thinking about vulnerable population, I want us to think about, the demographics and exposures. But also the importance for heritage, and culture that could be displaced, and last due to these changing climate.
So I'm gonna wrap up by talking about, some work that I'm doing in smart cities, and environmental sensing. And so, when I talk about environmental sensing, and smart cities always bring up the question of why sensors? Why do we need sensors, to really look at extreme heat? And so, one reason as we had talked about, in the lectures, we see that temperatures vary dramatically within a city, due to urban heat on effect.
But most cities are only quantified, by one meteorological station for their location, for their region. Which is normally located in airport, and one meteorological station just is not sufficient, to be able to depict the temperature variation in an urban area. And so, researchers use satellite data a lot, which is very useful and, but satellite data also has this limitation, due to a spatial scale as well as to temporal resolutions.
And so that is one reason, as well as the fact that, satellite data is capturing surface temperature, and not capturing near surface air temperature. And as the near surface air temperature, specifically two meters, which is the direct that's the best, to associate with negative health effects. So for us to really tie this to health effects, we really need that two meter, and that distributed into the environment.
So this is why, we're seeing this push towards low cost ubiquitous sensing and our Urban environments is for these different ways as a way to improve our understanding of exposures to high temperatures. As well as to better quantify these different climate responsive designs. And so Chicago array, we've seen sensor networks pop up in different areas in the United States.
And Chicago array I think is the most prominent one where we're seeing around 40 to 80, or 100 sensors, I think now at this point, but plans of installing up to 500. So the most I think, well established one, sensor network or they're using where they're calling these modules are capturing way more than just temperature data.
But a series of environmental data as well as sound and video data. And this person is some of the work that I'm doing here on Bloomington IU campus is where I'm putting sensors onto IU campus to start monitoring how temperatures are changing in the urban environment. And I've also put sensors into different locations of urban agriculture in Bloomington to look at temperature and relative humidity.
But also to monitor solar moistures and to really start trying to investigate the impact of solar moistures on temperatures as well in looking at agriculture. And so these are some of our sensor systems that we have deployed on campus and in Bloomington. And so a simple visualization that I can show is that when looking at just three of these sensors and looking at them, let's say in a parking lot and a forest area, and in a community garden.
We see that the orange is the parking lot and as the hottest one that we see in day and night. And so we can see that the temperatures increase here in the daytime, and it come down at night. And so we're seeing these diurnal temperature trends here with this graph.
But we can see that the temperatures in the parking lots are the hottest. And then actually the coolest in the daytime by a significant amount are those located specifically, this is a done with sensors, it was located on woods. And that the community garden is in the middle.
But we see this flip-flop here which is what my research previously were showing, that it's actually, agriculture actually cools temperatures better at night than forest. And so we see this flip-flop between forest and agriculture. So it's nice to be able to really tease out these impacts of temperature and not just at one point but really thinking about the diurnal temperatures and changes in an urban environment.
And the importance that minimum temperatures plays for our communities. And so what this is I've got ongoing a new project. And so this work is being funded by the National Science Foundations to cry program. And so where I am putting both these institute sensors like I explained earlier as well on body sensors to look at heat exposure.
And so with the on-body sensors for monitoring individual's heat exposure, we want to monitor individual's heat exposures. And we're really looking at this for validating wearable sensors, we're really interested to see can sensors, if we wear them our bodies really be able to capture heat exposure. Because that would be fabulous if we could get that data.
And we're starting to see a lot of research that is starting to use that because these are really important for putting on vulnerable populations, and seeing their exposures throughout the day. And then we'll be moving into really thinking about personal heat response, which is really thinking about how our body responds to heat, that actually how exposure.
And so we ended up having four different sensors that we use. And we put them all over our body based on the literature to see how they perform in different environments, specifically looking at it on woods and lotty parking lot, and see how well they perform. And what we found from this research is that the sensors actually are not performing very well.
That they're actually over heating, especially in areas of high impervious service, as well as indirect sunlight. And so this is really a push that this is an important technology that we could really use this for vulnerable populations and for communities. Urban communities with changing climate, and this could be an important area for intervention in order to capture heat exposure.
And so with my sensor network, I've been working on a series of different projects, and really thinking of how can we use sensor networks to help stakeholders and communities. We can definitely use sensor networks to improve our methodology, to understand urban climatology better, and heat wave trends, which is very important.
But we can also look at it through looking at and quantifying green infrastructure performance or in times of extreme heat, maybe tying that into smart irrigation and water harvesting. So that we are harvesting, protecting our green infrastructure. We could use it for building energy and the role of looking at building energy modeling, as well as the potential for emergency response.
And so that's one of the things that we're wanting to be working on in the near future is how can we really depict how temperatures are changing our urban environments. And how can we give this information to people in their built environment so that people have a better understanding of their hyper local heat exposure when they're moving through an urban environment.
And then another project that we're working on now is actually looking at building energy with regard to green infrastructure. And trying to see specifically on campus if we see that buildings use less energy if their surrounding with different types of green infrastructure. And so that's work that we're just really starting to really delve into.
And the role of sensor deployments could really enhance this work to really understanding the correlation of the near surface air temperature outside of buildings. And then one that I'm very interested is really this emergency response. And how can we tailor emergency response to vulnerable population mapping with sensor networks.
So that as the researcher said in Chicago, how can we get people in emergency response to people when they need it at that time. So that wraps me up for my talking as we really want to talk through how we can empower and protect our communities. And so I went through talking about heat wave trends, and it's important for communities to be able to really assess their heat wave trends and their vulnerability to extreme heat.
Looking at different climate adaptation strategies and the role of that. And that when we're designing policies that we should be designing targeted policies to make sure that we're getting the best bang for our buck. But also that we're actually putting policies in places where vulnerable population and disadvantaged communities.
And those who are most vulnerable in our communities are located. And then the discussion on sensing technology, and how sensing technology can help us to better be prepared. So thank you very much.
>> Thank you. Adam, I don't know, are we supposed to unmute everybody or do you want me to-
>> No, you'll ask the questions.
>> Okay, great. Well, Dana, thank you. I'm clapping vigorously on behalf of the whole crowd, I'm sure, because that was fantastic.
>> Let me mention real quick that if folks have questions that they haven't asked yet, they can type them into the chat now.
>> Thanks, Adam. And yes, Dana, that was a fantastic talk. A really wide ranging but cohesive talk that really gives us an excellent view of so many of the different complexities, policy issues involved in thinking about how to keep our cities cool. So, that was really enjoyable. We do have a first question that came in early on in the talk, when you were talking about, excuse me, your comparison of cities with respect to their vulnerability, so the vulnerable cities analysis.
And the question is have you compared vulnerable versus non vulnerable cities from the vulnerability analysis to see if there are any trends with local zoning ordinances or other policies that contributed to whether a city was vulnerable or not? Or do you think that cities being vulnerable or not is totally a consequence of geography and natural features?
>> So that's a great question. So I didn't talk about this enough, but that's where our future work for this study is gonna go is really look at the difference between minimum and maximum temperatures. And I worked with on the urban climate lab back at Georgia have done trends analysis for urban heat island trends.
And so we really want to correlate how quickly cities are increasing their urban heat islands, with heat wave trends. And if we see that places that have large growing urban heat islands are correlating in places with increasing heatwave trends, then we're wanting to try to start teasing that out with regard to development policies.
And with regard to lack of green infrastructure and increasing re-purpose surface and increase the population growth and sprawling of communities because we see a direct relationship between sprawl in urban heating as well. So that's a great discussion, that's where we really kind of want to tease that out more to see, you know how our cities becoming more resilient because they have better strategies for design and development.
>> Thank you. Okay, another question, how do you determine heat wave season for a particular location.
>> So we don't define the heat wave season so we let the data tell it to us. So we define it when the heat wave starts and where the heat wave ends, and so then we look at the start of the first heat wave, and then we calculate the time to the last heat wave.
And then we look at how heat waves are increasing earlier in the year as well as how they're lasting longer in the year and that's that, we're looking at. So we don't say heat wave season is may 1. Instead we're saying no, the heat wave season is actually expanding and changing and this area is based on the fact of it's not just when the first extreme heat event is but when the first heat wave is.
>> Okay, thank you. Another question on COVID and heat waves you mentioned that those most vulnerable to heat waves are the elderly, the isolated etc. This is similar to who is most vulnerable to COVID. What can we learn through this pandemic on helping those vulnerable to heat?
>> That's why Such a great question I actually spoke with media outlet about this summer.
There's a lot of correlations between extreme heat, extreme heat mortality, extreme heat vulnerability and COVID. And so looking at pre existing conditions the elderly or to make people more vulnerable and so things that we can expect things that become problematic during times of extreme heat is the fact that if we have power outages, and people need to get to cooling centers, just like we see with what's happening with the hurricanes, how we shelter in place together can become more problematic.
People can't just go as easily to the library and cold themselves down because it's a hot day because the library's closed and not allowing people in. And so these normal public infrastructure that are cooling centers for people. Especially people that don't have air conditioning, become really important. But also one thing that I thought was really interesting between the link between COVID and extreme heat is his understanding of how people started really reaching out to their elders during times of COVID.
Let me go shopping for you do need something? And what we see is that this type of check in is really very effective for the elderly and for saving lives, and so the two historical heat waves that people talk about in the US are the heat waves in 1995 and 99.
And these heat waves are very similar characteristic. Semiological characteristics. But in 99, they saved a lot more lives. And one reason is, again the communities more prepared and one way they're more prepared was because they did knocking on door campaigns of going to check and elderly who were isolated.
I think that was something really beautiful to see in COVID communities. Not someone asking for help, but instead asking people how can I help you? I think this is the mentality that we need to maintain a support of how we can continue this type of check in support for most vulnerable during these times where going outside is the exposure.
Great question, I feel like I could talk about that all day.
>> Another question that came in another interesting characteristic, looking across cities is that some like San Francisco, don't have a robust network of centralized air conditioning due historically not needing this, while others like Austin already have more widespread access to residential air conditioning.
Do you think that there will be positive feedback in those cities without current air conditioning networks as they're installed this will accelerate their heat wave extremes faster than other cities with this already built in.
>> So we definitely see this problem with housing condition. And so when we're thinking about housing condition, we can think about insulation you can people who live in and trailer homes are going to be way more vulnerable as well.
So housing conditions really important. That area around the housing is really important for increased exposure, but access to air conditioning is extremely important. And so what we're seeing, it's not just access. So access is really important for places like San Francisco and Paris. So you go to Paris and those buildings did not have AC.
And so it is very difficult to be inside of a building in Paris during a heat wave is very dangerous. And so that's a really important question of how do we transition these communities that because for the most part, San Francisco, people that live in San Francisco was like, I'm not going to pay all that money for an AC when I only need it like a week of the summer.
And so there is this built in vulnerability that they're not prepared for this. And so hopefully this leads to that discussion these housing conditions do need to be upgraded and we do need to access air conditioning. And it is this wonderful question as that again just like watering agriculture, there is always a double edged sword here that use an air conditioner is gonna be using more energy that's going to be increasing waste heat that's going to be increasing climate change.
So there's not just a simple solution here. But we can think about energy efficiency, we can think about where that energy is being sourced. We can think about the fact that as well not just access but the ability to pay for AC and for air conditioning, a lot of low income communities go without AC because they can't afford those high bills.
So that's an important aspect of what as well or if their conditioning breaks in the middle of the summer, being able to just have that money to fix it. And I was literally writing an NSF grant this summer, all about this work, and my air conditioning broke. And it took so long to fix it in the middle of the heatwave, and we couldn't go anywhere because of COVID.
And I was sitting there writing about vulnerable populations. It was like my method, I felt was my method way of actually Writing a grant. But it really illustrates to me at that moment as well. But it's expensive to even fix our air conditioning unit. So there is this importance that we think about with housing, housing stocks, the healthiness of our housing stocks, but as well as income and the ability to be able to afford and have access to air conditioning.
Do we see a measurable heat island effect at a town as small as Bloomington?
>> Yes, we would see one. I haven't actually calculated it here in Bloomington that should be something I do the next little bit because I do get asked that a lot. But we are already seeing that these differences in microclimates, but what we might not be seeing is that they're not gonna be as intense as we see if we were studying this in Indianapolis or in Chicago.
We might not see this increase in the trends that we're seeing as clearly as we see in these larger cities. But we still see this distinction between this urban in the world here. And so that's a great question of knowing at what level do we see that impact.
But the work that we were showing before the trends was really looking at large cities and saying no matter where they're located, they should, and I think that can, we could do another analysis looking at smaller cities as well. We'll look at their trends across United States to see yes, these cities have made that argument that these cities are as vulnerable as well.
And I think that would be an interesting thing to dissect.
>> Okay, and this is gonna be your last question because I actually have to go to another Zoom at 1 o'clock. The question is for cities with heat monitoring networks, what's the recommended geographic distribution?. How far apart should sensors be?
So that's a good question. That's something we're trying to figure out right now. So right now the density that we have in our network on campus is I can't remember what it is off the top of my head. It's definitely less than a kilometer, a sensor and it's at least double that.
And that was around the recommendation. I still think that is something we're trying to figure out as we were gonna be testing how we can effectively map temperatures in urban environments by using these sensors. And so, one of those questions are gonna be how closely do they need to be located to each other to be able to get these valid temperature readings, as well as what's the density of them?
So that work is starting to come out. And I think that's a interesting one to, a great question to ask of what's not just how far but what's the density of the sensors as well? That's something that we're currently investigating.
>> All right, well, thank you on behalf of, you know what I'm trying to say.
I thank you the whole crowd, this was a fantastic seminar and really enjoyed it.
>> Thank you.
>> Thank you, Dana.
>> You're welcome.
Extreme Heat Vulnerability: How we can Protect and Empower Communities
This talk will discuss how we can empower communities and increase resilience to extreme heat in urban places. The talk will cover heat wave trends, heat mitigation policies, and sensing technologies which can be used to protect and educate communities about their risk to climate change.
Shellye Suttles - November 6, 2020
Description of the video:>> Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Fall Environmental Resilience Speaker Series. Jointly presented by Indiana University's Integrated Program on the Environment and the Environmental Resilience Institute. We're very happy that you can join us today. Before we start, Indiana University wishes to acknowledge and honor the Miami, Delaware, Potawatomi, and Shawnee people.
On whose ancestors homelands and resources Indiana University was built. Both IPE, and ERI are founded on the understanding that interdisciplinary learning and research. Are essential to teach today's scholars and to solve today's problems. IPE is dedicated to bringing together all of the environmental and sustainability scholarship. Across the various schools and departments on the Bloomington campus.
IPE is made up of over 120 faculty and nearly a thousand students studying the environment from all angles. The ERI was founded in 2017 as part of the IU prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge. Its mission is to enhance resilience to environmental change in Indiana and beyond. By accurately predicting impacts and effectively partnering with communities.
To implement feasible, equitable and research and forum solutions And we have a wide variety of speakers joining us this semester, and also in the Spring. And in particular, our speakers will focus on topics relevant to the issues of systemic racial inequality. Environmental and justice and the need for a just transition to a future that is healthy and safe for all people.
Not just those who have been privileged by centuries of inequitable systems and societies. So, before the talk starts, please make sure that you've muted your microphone as the talk happens. Please if you have questions, type them into the chat box. And at the end of our talk today, our moderator will present them to our speaker.
So, I'm gonna turn it over to Lingxi Chen Yang. Who's the Environmental Law Fellow at the Environmental Resilience Institute. And she will introduce our speaker today.
>> Thank you Adam. Hi everyone. My name is Lingxi. I'm the new Environmental Law Fellow at UI and I'm really pleased to introduce Dr. Shellye Suttles.
Dr. Suttles is an Agricultural Economist who focuses on local and regional food systems. Municipal food policy, agricultural energy production, and climate changes impact on agricultural land use. Dr Suttles joined the O'Neill school as an Assistant Professor this year. She also serves as an Assistant Research Scientist with the Sample Food System Science Institute at IU.
Previously Dr. Suttles served as Food Policy and Program Coordinator for the City of Indianapolis, Office of Public Health and Safety. And as an economist with the USDA's Economic Research Service. And today she's going to talk to us about the potential environmental impacts of National Transportation Safety Policy. And without further ado, I'll turn it over to you Dr. Suttles.
>> Thank you, thank you, Adam and Lingxi for that great introduction. Let me just share my screen PowerPoint presentation. So, first, thank you all for having me here today. I'm very excited to get to know more about the individuals. Who participate in the Environmental Resilience Speaker Series and Research.
And all of the interesting things that happen in both IPE and ERI. So thank you very much. I'm new to IU. So, I'm learning all of the acronyms so, you have to forgive me there. So, again, I'm Shellye Suttles and I'm with the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
And also researcher at the Austrian Workshop Sustainable Food System Science Network. So, I've been working on this project. Looking at transportation safety policy in the context of food and agricultural production. With my fellow economist, Dr. Tara Wade and Dr. Lurleen Walters at the University of Florida. So, I apologize about my sound hopefully.
Let me know if this is any better.
>> I think If you could speak up a little bit or move the microphone a little closer.
>> Okay, how about now? Is this any better?
>> That's good. Thank you.
>> Okay, thank you. I apologize. So, this is a research project that came about because Tara is actually, she has a component of education.
So, she works with community being based at a land grant institution that is University of Florida. So, in that she has an extension component of her faculty appointment. A tomato grower asked her in the middle of last year. He said, hey, there's a new transportation safety policy's is coming about.
And I'm very much aware that it's gonna impact food and agricultural sectors. What should I look out for as a producer? And so she told him, hey, I'm just hearing about it now from you. I don't know too much, but I'll find out. So, she reached out to Laureen and I, and a couple of her colleagues at the University of Florida.
And so, we all said, we really don't know about it, but let's find out together. So, this is the research we've been conducting. Looking at this new transportation safety policy that's known as Electronic Logging Mandate. In the context of food and agricultural industries. So, to start, we really had to think about the general role of transportation in the food system.
So, here we see in this diagram both supply side sectors. And demand side sectors in the food system. And we see a variety of different, all the way from production in green to wholesaling and transportation in orange. Consumer facing businesses such as retail grocery stores. In blue and then we have consumers at the end.
So, it's, a very robust system, the food system and it has kind of interactions throughout. So, stylistically, we were looking at logistics and transportation at the center of this diagram. But we know that transportation actually is affecting sectors in the food system throughout the system. So, if we think about agricultural input suppliers, sending input supplies to farmers.
If we think about farmers sending specialty crops or agricultural products to food processors and food manufacturers. Wholesalers shipping product to retail grocery stores and institutional buyers. We know that transportation is really involved in a much more systemic way. Than just a one orange box we see here. So, when we think about the volume of food and agricultural transportation in the United States.
We can really think about, looking at data in the US Commodity Flow Survey. So, when we look at the 2017 Survey. We see shipments for two food and agricultural commodities shown here. So, there are eight but we're just gonna look at two here. And so, the first is agricultural products shipments.
And so, US Census defines agricultural products as generally specialty crops. So, fresh fruit and vegetable. And it's not including cereal grains and animal feed and those other types of agricultural products. But at the same time we also have prepared food commodities, which are shipped. In the United States, and so prepared foods are what you can think about as processed foods or manufactured foods.
So when we look at shipments of these two commodities by modes of transportation, we see that by weight, about 67% of agricultural products are shipped via on road trucking. And at the same time we see for shipments of prepared food about 93% of these shipments are shipped via on road trucking.
So as a result, we conclude that on road trucking is really a significant component to the food and agricultural industries, particularly food and agricultural transportation. So when we expand our discussion into on road trucking to all commodities shipped in the United States by mode of transportation, we still see that about 81% of all commodities shipped in the United States are shipped via on road trucking.
And so this is equivalent to nearly 9 billion tons of product, that is worth over $10 trillion. So, we know that on road trucking is a very important industry for not only food and agricultural sectors but for the US economy as a whole. And so one thing that's quickly worth mentioning is that although we, are going to focus today's discussion on road trucking, we do have rail, water, and air as modes of transportation.
But it's important to think about these other modes of transportation. Ultimately they are going to require on road trucking to get that product closer to retailers and consumers in the end. So, nothing is purely shipped by water, nothing's purely shipped by rail, nothing's purely shipped by air. At the end of that final destination, it's gonna have to be shipped by on road trucking.
So with all of this on road trucking happening across the United States to move product from here to there, there are gonna be transportation safety consequences. So in 2017, we unfortunately saw 878 fatalities that involve passengers of heavy duty vehicles in these long haul transportation routes. So as a result, the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, has instituted transportation safety regulations to reduce the number of on road highway accidents, as well as highway fatalities associated with on road trucking or transportation industries.
And so, these regulations include general motor carrier regulations, just general things carriers must abide by in their operation of transportation businesses. It also includes hours of service regulation, which are kinda really looking at the human resource and hours of service rules related to transportation safety. And then we also have employee, health and safety regulations instituted by the Department of Transportation.
So in our discussion of transportation safety policy, we're going to focus on hours of service regulation. And it's because these hours of service regulation are intended to reduce fatigue driving, which generally causes these highway accidents and fatalities. So according to the Department of Transportation, the hours of service really refers to the maximum amount of time that drivers are permitted to spend driving.
Or on duty, what they would be spending time loading the vehicle, maintaining the vehicle, fueling the vehicle, and things of that nature. And but also at the same time specifies a number and a length of rest periods and breaks that are required intermittently throughout this hours of service.
So when we look at hours of service regulations, we know that the Department of Transportation only allows drivers to drive 11 hours after 10 hours off duty. And they're only allowed to complete this 11 hours of drive time within a 14 hour window. So they have to do all of that 11 hours in a 14 hour window every day.
And within these 11 hours, they're required to take 30 minute rest breaks for every 8 hours that they spend driving. And so ultimately these hours of service regulations are there to help ensure that drivers stay awake, that they stay alert while they're on the road transporting this high volume of shipments across the country.
And so you might be asking yourself, so who's checking to see if these drivers are complying with these hours of service regulation? If you're driving from California to Georgia, who's checking in to make sure you're complying with these rules? Is it Highway Patrol, is it Erik Estrada, perhaps from CHiPs.
And so ultimately, pretty much, so drivers are required to maintain hours of service documentation, in case they're audited by the Department of Transportation or their companies. But most drivers actually aren't concerned with the audits, they're concerned with being pulled over by highway patrol. And if highway patrol finds that they're not in compliance with hours of service regulations, this has the potential to jeopardize their commercial driver's licenses and ultimately jeopardize their livelihoods.
So we know that prior to a recent transportation safety policy, drivers were actually keeping paper logs. And so these paper logs weren't actually generally effective in terms of requiring or enforcing that drivers comply with hours of service regulation. And so in our review of literature we find that drivers actually drove 4 hours each day, beyond the maximum 11 hours that they're allowed to drive based on hours of service regulation.
And this typically is in order to get product to its final destination in time. So especially when we think about food and agricultural products, Kroger wants those load of lettuce today because they put it on sale in the paper and people are expecting it. So particularly for the food and agricultural industries, on time delivery is key.
And so, in an effort to avoid getting in trouble with highway patrol, drivers often kept two sets of paper logs. They kept one legitimate set of logs for themselves and for their companies. But they also kept one set of false logs for highway patrol so that if they're pulled over, highway patrol would think that they were within their hours of service maximum.
So that there was no issue with them driving additionally. And so very interestingly, the Department of Transportation knew this cheating or this double log activity was happening for a very long time. And they always ask themselves, is there an alternative technology to document hours of service compliance to ensure that drivers aren't driving past the maximum hours of service?
And so actually yes, there is. So the electronic logging device known as the ELD or E-log, is a device that synchronizes with the vehicle's engine to automatically record drive times. Let whoever's looking at the data understand when the engine was stopped, when the engine started. And this really offers very accurate recording of hours of service compliance.
And so this is important because DOT felt the electronic logging device Really offered the opportunity for drivers to have a safer work environment. So oftentimes it wasn't that the drivers wanted to push and drive beyond maximum allowable drive times. It's that their companies wanted it and that the company's clients wanted that very on time delivery.
So the Department of Transportation argued that really this was to the benefit of drivers, and it made it easier and faster to accurately record hours of service. Because in the paper log it was often very difficult for drivers to keep these gigantic log books in the vehicle and record their hours of service.
So it makes it easier not only to record, but also to share your hours on duty status with your company, highway patrol, or Department of Transportation auditors. So fortunately, the Department of Transportation moved ahead with instituting transportation safety policy, more specifically the electronic logging mandate in 2015. And so it had tried actually many times before to figure out a way to institute electronic logging devices in on long haul vehicles, commercial motor vehicles.
But it was always opposed by the trucking industry. And that was until 2015 when the DOT passed electronic logging device mandate which now requires that all drivers and carriers of commercial motor vehicles have these electronic logging devices in their vehicles. And so the mandate came in three phases.
So phase one was just the awareness and transition phase. It was a lot of PR on the part of the Department of Transportation to let drivers and carriers know that this was coming. Phase two was actually a year long between December 2017 and December 2019. And it was a phased in compliance approach.
So it allowed drivers and carriers in the industry to really phase in the electronic logging devices into their vehicles. But during this time, so this two years of phased-in compliance, agricultural industries actually received an exemption. That was until December of last year when phase three went into effect.
And so now, a majority of drivers, so nearly all drivers and commercial motor vehicle carriers in the United States are required to have electronic logging devices in their vehicles. And so there are a few exceptions. So agriculture does receive kind of a minimum amount of exceptions, if you aren't doing long haul driving very much or you're only doing it harvest season.
There's other exemptions for the motion picture industry and other industries that may have varying frequencies in length of transportation and shipments and trips. But one thing it's really important to stress with its transportation safety policy, that is electronic logging device mandate. That the ELD mandate did not actually change the hours of service rules.
So the hours of service rules that we saw previously still stand, nothing has changed about those. So the electronic logging device mandate only makes it harder for drivers and carriers to falsify hours of service records. And so ultimately, that the DOT feels that they're able to better enforce existing hours of service regulations with this ELD mandate.
And so, in our efforts as a group of agricultural economists to answer the Florida tomato growers original question. Excuse me, we noticed something really interesting about transportation safety policy. And that was very much impacted the food and agricultural industries and the economy as a whole. So we felt that it also had the potential to impact the environment, animal welfare, and food waste.
Because if these trips are going to change, perhaps there would be more spoilage in changing routes. Live animals and live fish are often transported through on road trucking in the United States, so that's why I felt there's potential for animal welfare impacts. And we know that these commercial motor vehicles are consuming diesel fuel and there would be environmental impacts to any change in transportation policy that changed transportation times in the United States.
So we really spent the last year exploring this nexus between transportation safety policy, food and agricultural policy, and environmental policy. So two important topics in food and agricultural policy that come to mind when we talk about transportation safety policy, are first food safety. And second, keeping food prices affordable in the United States.
So on the topic of food safety, the FDA is responsible for regulating food safety in the United States. And so in an effort to keep consumers safe from foodborne illnesses through food spoilage, the FDA has various food safety regulations. One of the most recent and most profound was the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act which was passed.
And so, a major component of food safety, particularly FSMA, is this appropriate and consistent refrigeration of highly perishable goods. And this really impacts the food and agriculture industry, because in the United States a majority of product that is shipped via on road trucking through refrigerated units is either food, flowers, or pharmaceuticals.
So if there's going to be changes in food safety regulation, knowing that they're going to be highly perishable goods shipped in food and agricultural industries. This becomes very important. And this also becomes much more important given the trends in healthy eating. Better encouraging Americans to consume more fresh fruit and vegetables.
So it's all kind of coalescing at once. But at the same time, we know that USDA is tasked with keeping food prices low in the United States. And this is particularly important given that when we think about what the USDA does in the context of the Farm Bill, we know that 76% of the outlays of the Farm Bill don't actually go to farmers.
It actually goes to low income Americans who need food and nutrition assistance. So USDA is really looking to keep food prices low for low income households. So, this 76% of outlays in the 2018 Farm Bill is about $66 billion that goes to low income households who may have food need.
So this is important kind of in the context of low prices. I know some folks argue about price parity for farmers that they're receiving an appropriate price for their goods. But in the United States, there's only about 2 million farmers. At the same time we know about 38 million Americans live below the poverty line and really struggle with food insecurity.
So this is something that's very important to USDA. And so, kind of in this vein would say that food safety, low food prices, are really issues we think will be impacted by the change in labor, change in fuel, change in maintenance, change in travel time. That the electronic logging device mandate is having on the food and agriculture transportation industry.
So at the same time, we can also think about environmental policy. And so we're very mindful that environmental policy is also going to converge with transportation safety policy. So in 2011, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration got together. And created greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks.
And this was particularly important because EPA felt that this cohort of vehicles that would be produced between 2014 and 2018. Could actually contribute to a reduction of about 7, excuse me, 270 million metric tons of CO2 emissions during this time period. So it's something that they were hopeful about, involving commercial motor vehicles and improving environmental conditions in the United States.
And so, these issues are important to the transportation sector, particularly as fleets and as commercial motor carriers are trying to comply with fuel economy standards and emission standards. But they may have to cut costs in other areas to comply with these standards. And cutting cost in those areas may include cutting costs with labour, and that can affect drivers livelihoods.
So really, we're asking ourselves in this case the following research question. So how has the ELD mandate change transportation time? How is the ELD mandate changed fuel consumption as a result of these changing transportation times? And what are the environmental consequences of the change in fuel consumption we might See?
And so to answer this first question we have, we look at the change in transportation times as a result of the electronic logging device mandate. And so as I mentioned before, this business as usual scenario, where drivers were often driving 15 hours a day when they were only legally allowed to drive 11 hours a day, becomes particularly important.
So with the ELD mandate, drivers will naturally spend more time completing a trip. Because they have to observe these hours of service rules which require them to take a longer rest period. And so as a result, we know that transportation times will increase. And so when we look at our calculations to compare business as usual, shipments with electronic logging device and for shipments.
We're really expecting to find increases in travel times for all routes that take more than 11 hours. Because drivers are no longer able to fudge that 12th hour, the 13th hour, the 14th hour and the 15th hour on road in their paper log books. Electronic logging device is actually now seeing when the engine was on, at what times, for how long.
And so highway patrol, Department of Transportation, and the motor carrier is able to track that much better than with paper logs. So, now we know that everyday on the road driving will now be shortened to 11 hours when drivers were actually spending 15 hours driving. So we know that we're going to have changes for every multiple of 11 hours in drive time.
Because when a driver would have first spent the 15 hours driving, they're now spending 11 hours driving, and they're forced to rest. And so this will happen particularly for long distance transportation. Knowing that, if it required many multiples of 11, so 25 hours, 35 hours on the roadg, going from coast to coast, there would be significant impacts in transportation times.
And so here's just a quick table that's calculating transportation times for common agricultural routes that either end in New York or originate in Washington. And so, we really see that this is going to be a big concern for very long haul coast to coast trips for food and agricultural products.
So when we look at this route between Washington and Florida, we see that the electronic logging device mandate will likely increase the travel time of this 3,200 mile trip by up to 38 hours. And that's obviously gonna be particularly important for refrigerated transportation. And so, just to give you guys an opportunity to see kind of the trend and the change in transportation times as a result of the electronic logging device mandate.
Here we see kind of, in orange, we have a line that would be the situation is if the business-as-usual transportation time was the same as the ELD-enforced transportation time. But we know this is not gonna happen as a result of the ELD mandate. So if we focus on the blue line, we see that the ELD transportation times deviate from the business-as-usual transportation times.
And that there were gonna require 4 hour rest period for every 11 hours, which didn't originally happen in the business as usual travel time. And so based on these changes in transportation time, we look to answer our second question. That was, what if any changes in fuel consumption are the result of the electronic logging device mandate?
And so for me, these issues that gonna impact the economy, impact environment, impact animal welfare, that are the result of the transportation policy are really what's hiding in plain sight to me. Because when we think about the electronic logging device mandate, it doesn't actually affect transportation mileage. So if we were to look in data for pre-ELD, and compare it to post-ELD, the mileage of the trips will not change.
The trips are always going to be the same mileage. So the shipment has x number of miles that will have to get the product from Washington to Florida, no matter what. But what is changing is the transportation time. So, we know that of all the publicly data that we have at our disposal, none of the data actually has any mention of transportation times.
And this is what we find is really lacking but critical for the discussion of environmental impacts of transportation safety policy. So, at first glance you might say, who cares if transportation times change, the driver isn't doing anything. Well, he's resting in the vehicle. But there are actually quite a few fuel consumption activities that are happening while the driver is resting.
And so the first activity is what is called hotelling, and so it's not a bad thing. Hotelling is simply the activity where the driver is resting in the cab of the vehicle during rest periods or breaks. And in our conversations with the drivers, they actually said that they prefer to stay with the shipment and not get a hotel is cuz they're very concerned about theft.
And so their goal is to get a really beautiful cab like this one here in the picture. And to be able to rest and relax during their rest period and breaks in the cab to protect the cargo. And so as you can see, hanging out in the cab is pretty nice.
There's the mini fridge, a laptop, TV, all sorts of electronics and appliances at your disposal. But it's important to realize that while the driver is hotelling in this vehicle, it's gonna require energy and power to keep the fridge on, to keep your laptop running, to keep Netflix on.
So it's important for us to recognise that the vehicle engine is idling. And so EPA is estimating that all drivers are hotelling 100% of the time while they're doing these long haul trips. And that the engine is idling 70% of that time and consuming diesel fuel during that 70% of the hotelling time.
And so at the same time, we have a similar situation for refrigeration. So the majority of fresh fruit and vegetable in the United States is shipped via refrigerated containers or what are called reefers. So when we see this kind of shipping container in the back, that's what's called a reefer.
And so the reefer is outfitted with what's called a transportation refrigeration unit. And so this requires diesel fuel to maintain cool, cold, frozen, or sometimes heated temperatures for food and agricultural products. And so while the driver is hotelling during these increased rest periods, the refrigeration unit also has to be continuously running throughout the route, which would include these additional breaks and rest periods.
And so given the constraints that we have on available data for transportation times, we have to do a few back-of-the-envelope calculations to estimate fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as a result of the electronic logging device mandate. And so here you see our fuel consumption calculation. And so we just take our previously calculated change in travel times.
We include EPA's recommendations for conversion factors or fuel consumption for hotelling and refrigeration in a transportation refrigeration unit. To ultimately find that change in fuel consumption as a result of the mandate. And so to get closer to answering our third question, we look at a change of greenhouse gas emissions as a result of the ELD mandate to understand the environmental impacts of the transportation safety policy.
And so these are just additional calculations based on EPA's recommendations. So we take our change in fuel consumption calculation, use EPA CO2 conversion factor. And we're able to find a change in greenhouse gas emissions per shipment as a result of the change in transportation safety policy. And so to ultimately answer this third question we have, we have to look at the change in aggregated greenhouse gas emissions, not just per individual shipment, within the food and agricultural sectors.
To understand the impact of food and agriculture through the transportation safety policy. And so if we're gonna aggregate, Emissions across each food and agricultural commodity, we have to go back to US census and Bureau of Transportation statistics, commodity flow survey. So here we're just looking at values from the 2017 commodity flow survey for the survey's eight food and agricultural commodities.
And so highlighted in blue, I have commodities that will likely require refrigeration. So agricultural products which are specialty crops or fresh fruit and vegetable in the United States, as we mentioned, are very much refrigerated in on-road transportation in the United States. We also have the potential in commodity four, animal feed and eggs, where eggs would likely be refrigerated.
But we aren't sure kind of the total aggregation of value that the commodity flow survey has aggregated. The same can be said for meat and poultry, we assume those commodities are transported via refrigerated trucking. And then we know to some degree for commodity seven, other prepared foodstuffs, that there are a variety of different manufactured foods that require refrigeration that are shipped across the United States.
So ultimately, if we look at the average miles per shipment in the last column of this table, we see that there are on-average short routes and on-average long routes for different food commodities. So short routes include number two, cereal grains. So we see that's a relatively average short route for that commodity.
Animal feed and eggs is also another commodity that has a relatively short route. So when we think about long haul transportation, there are some particularly long routes. So commodity three, agricultural products, on average is being shipped 716 miles across the United States. Similarly, meat and poultry is shipped about 616 miles on average across the United States.
And so the first thing we have to note here about the averages that were given from the commodity flow survey is that we don't know anything about the distribution of mileage given each individual shipment. So we can't say anything about the distribution. And second kind of is related to commodity seven, other prepared foodstuffs, this is really the 221 million ton gorilla in the room.
It is a very considerable amount by weight of agricultural and food commodities that are shipped across the United States. But when we look at the average miles per shipment, they're really not that particularly high. So ultimately, in our calculations, we don't include it even though it is such a significant portion of food and agricultural commodities in the United States.
Just because the mileage isn't what we feel would kind of bump up on average against that 11-hour drive maximum. So if we look at our calculations, so we're able to calculate our change in transportation time given the certain commodities, a change in fuel consumption given certain commodities, and ultimately a change in greenhouse gas for certain individuals shipment of commodities.
Highlighted in blue, we have things that we know that will require refrigeration throughout the transportation. In orange, we have long haul commodities that we don't feel would require refrigeration. And we look at these four commodities in particular because they have relatively long average miles per shipment. And so ultimately, we're concluding that agricultural products being shipped across the United States will have about a 0.25 teragram increase in emissions through the course of a year.
Meat product transportation will have about a 0.29 teragram increase in emissions over the year. Bakery products will be a little bit less at 0.14 teragrams of CO2 emissions over the course of the year. And alcoholic beverages for our long haul trips will be about 0.09 teragrams of CO2 emissions over the course of the year.
So these are particularly conservative totals. As I mentioned, when we look in our average transportation times, we really don't want to force sectors that may have low average transportation times,to say that they'll be drastically impacted by this transportation safety policy. So we have a conservative total of about 0.77 teragrams in total which would be emitted annually based on long haul transportation of food and agricultural commodities.
And so, how did we fare in terms of answering our research questions? Ultimately, we find that there are increased transportation times as a result of the mandate. There is increased fuel consumption as a result of the changing transportation times. And there most likely will be an increase in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of the electronic logging device mandate.
And so just to conclude, we estimate that there is a substantial increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation safety policy, that's the ELD mandate. So we see kind of this a less than one teragram annually for long-haul food and agricultural transportation. But when we put this in context even though that we feel that is substantial amount of CO2 emissions over the course of the year.
It's ultimately fairly small in comparison with a total transportation CO2 emissions that we see annually. So in 2017, there was a little over 1800 to grams of CO2 equivalent emitted from the transportation sector in the United States. So not incredibly high, but perhaps if we think about department of transportation and other kind of policymaking sectors across the economy doing things to tweak the length.
And the time that it takes to transport product across the country, we will likely see these changes in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. And so for us kind of as a group of researchers, we have a few avenues for our next steps. And so this is what I'd be curious to talk with all of you about in these avenues first, we're going to take these preliminary calculations.
And we plan to work with other general equilibrium modelers and econometricians to answer some of our large questions about the effects of this transportation safety policy on food and agricultural sectors. Because I did mention this is going to impact labor cost, it's going to impact fuel cost, it's going to impact maintenance costs.
And variety of different costs are ultimately going to impact food and agricultural sectors in their ability to be economically efficient. And then our second avenue of research is also hiding in plain sight for us because we've really realized that there is really no publicly available data. That gives us comprehensive disaggregated data about food and agricultural transportation that would allow us to really refine the analysis we talked about today.
We know that what is hiding in plain sight is the electronic logging device itself to give us data. So we know that the ELD mandate had a very long implementation process. So different states were implementing the ELD, some even prior to the 2015 announcement of the ELD mandate.
So there has actually been a relatively long history of drivers and commercial motor vehicle carriers recording their logs through ELD. So we would really be curious to get access to the direct ELD records themselves to see how drivers are better complying with hours of service regulation to improve transportation safety.
But also to change the dynamic of food and agricultural transportation. So with that I'll open it up for questions, but I thank you all for very much for kind of listening in that conversation during what has been a pretty exciting week.
>> Thanks so much Dr. Suttles. Who knew that tracking regulations would have have such a large impact on food and ag?
So our first question comes from the audience and I think there are two questions here. Does the ELD mandate bring up any additional animal welfare concerns, perhaps by increasing the length of shipping time for live animals? And if so, have there been any proposed policy changes to address those animal welfare concerns?
>> Yeah, so that's a great question. So, we have found that for livestock, the kind of this increase in transportation time is gonna be very important for live animals particularly for cattle to large animals who can overheat during transportation. So there are a few publications that are coming out about the effects that the ELD mandate will cause in terms of cattle transportation.
But one thing we're all concerned about, so we're all kind of resource economist on the side of being agriculturists is pollinators. So I'm sure everyone on this call knows kind of pollinators are shipped all across the country, that's how people can have their almond milk. Some poor driver gets stuck transporting hives all across the United States pollinating all the things that need pollinated.
So if ELD mandate is gonna require that the individual driving pollinators across the country spend more time resting. This can be devastating for the hives because much like the cattle if the hives overheat, it will decimate the hive. So the clients who are shipping the hives all across the country are very, very critical about on-time delivery for hives.
And so this will have both livestock concerns for animal welfare in regards to livestock, but also pollinators.
>> That's really interesting that there would be a big effect on pollinators. Our next question is have there been any measurable safety results for truckers based on mandate?
>> Yes, so I was nervous somebody would ask this question.
So this is not my area of expertise. We've only been following kind of researchers who conduct transportation safety research and really right now, the jury is out. There have been publications both ways saying that the transportation safety policy is effective. But there's also been publications I'd say that really what you're seeing is not necessarily the case in terms of improving highway accidents and highway fatalities.
So that's something that we definitely following because ultimately that discussion is what has been the impetus for all of the research we've done in this area.
>> Got it, so it seems like the evidence is mixed. So I have a personal question. I'm really interested in sort of the large scale macroeconomic changes that the regulation might cause for food demand.
So I'm wondering whether the ELD mandate might influence food demand by increasing the supply costs for certain food sectors. And your presentation mentioned that the meat industry might be particularly affected. I'm wondering whether it might hike up prices for meat in supermarkets and stuff? And whether this might kind of shift food demand away from from those sectors influenced?.
>> Yeah, so meats a great example. You can think about the macroeconomic effects. So, we had the discussion about the increase in transportation time for livestock. So if you think about the cattle that will ultimately become beef, those economic costs are increasing. So that labor, that fuel, that maintenance, and what have you, those costs are increasing.
And that's compounded with the increase in transportation times for meat. And so this is gonna be a double whammy. And when we think about low income households who may not be able to bear the brunt of the industry passing on those costs to them, it could ultimately have significant macroeconomic effects.
>> That's really interesting. I'm guessing it will also hike up prices for those agricultural sectors that rely on pollinators which is I imagine a huge segment of agriculture?
>> Yeah, so I guess I missed a tiny component of the first question to say had the department of transportation kind of given any exemptions for Considering animal welfare and the transportation, so there actually have just been kind of one small concession.
And so that's really more motivated around the actual farm operation. So the hours of service regulations don't actually count. So you're given an exemption, 150 air miles around an agricultural operation. So say if you have a nursery on site and you're planting lettuce. So you have a lettuce nursery and a lettuce farm.
And then you go to your nursery and plant your lettuce all within your 150 air miles. You don't have to count that towards your hours of service regulation. But as you saw kind of uncommon routes for food and agricultural products are crisscrossing United States. So they're well beyond that 150 air miles that the Department of Transportation has given agriculture.
So I guess the industry is always kind of trying to find opportunities to get greater concessions from Department of Transportation given that so much is happening within the food and agricultural sector.
>> Right, a question about the truckers. I wonder if truckers are in support of the mandate.
I mean, it seems like it's all ready going to be in fact, but I'm wondering how truckers feel about this particular regulation.
>> Yeah, so we did a handful of interviews with drivers, particularly during COVID. Cuz we were wondering how kind of all of this was coming together all at once during a pandemic where they were forced to really kind of push to the limit.
And we asked them, how is the ELD mandate affected you as a driver or we talked to transportation directors at food and agricultural businesses and ask them how it affected their work. And majority of them said that, particularly those that were in progressive states like California, they had actually long adopted the the ELD as a device in the vehicle prior to the mandate.
So we heard from drivers that Idaho, I think, was really at the forefront of electronic logging devices. Because it ultimately does make it easier for the driver and the carrier to track hours of service. This is just at also at the end of the day, HR issue, I need to know how many hours you worked to pay you.
So it'd be helpful if I had a better mechanism to track your hours of service. So a few states and a few businesses had long since use the ELD as a HR tool. So that's where we see this opportunity to look at ELDs pre and post the mandate to understand at a granular level what may have happened.
>> Right, that's interesting that it's already being implemented in US western states. I mean, it seems like a common sense technology option kind of tool to track those hours.
>> Yeah and drivers, all these, from one, so I talked to Midwest transportation director. And he said that he did see a few retirements prior to the ELD going into effect.
Cuz older drivers said, I don't wanna really learn a new technology, I'm already on the cusp of retirement. I'll just call it quits now so I don't have to learn a new gizmo. But I don't think it was severe pushback into having the ELD, although if you do look at form so, I wonder, I see Stacy's on the call.
I wonder kind of those who do social network analysis and I see how drivers are very chatty group. They had the CB radios in the old days. They very much connect with each other cuz they kind of have the opportunity to chat on the road. But there has been some lively discussions about the ELD mandate.
But we see it both ways. Particularly during COVID, interestingly, there were five days that the White House actually waived all hours of service regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers. It only lasted five days because the Department of Transportation stepped in and said this is crazy town. You have to have hours of service regulations or people would die.
And so we looked kind of in the trucker chatter online to see what truckers were saying about that. And it was interesting, a lot of them said, hey, you need these hours of service regulations to enforce safety. You've told us this, we have to comply with this during COVID, even you can't, throw the baby out with the bathwater in this case of transportation safety.
>> Yeah, and we see kind of similar reaction from the car industry generally to rollback of environmental regulations from this administration. I'm also wondering whether the supply cost increases from this particular regulation might be a big boost for automated trucking. And I know that's kind of on the horizon.
I wonder if that might become a more attractive option for these like big box stores and big suppliers, given the additional costs of compliance.
>> Yeah, definitely cuz in that case, so even outside of the ELD mandate just with general having a human drive the vehicle, if a human wasn't driving, there would be no need for hours of service regulation.
And you could get from Washington State all the way to Florida and no risk whatsoever, so I think that would be a very big game changer. But kind of in that conversation as folks wait to figure out kind of the status of driverless long haul transportation, the industry is discussing kind of more tandem driving.
And that's where you'd have two drivers in the cab. So while one is getting the rest, taking their mandated rest period, the other driver is driving and so that they're able to complete the shipment in the normal amount of time with that tandem driving. So there are kind of industries discussing different ways to deal with the mandate.
But at least kind of in the conversations we had with drivers, they don't seem concerned, they say, it may take a little longer. I'm not trying to jeopardize my license so I will follow the rules.
>> That's a really interesting workaround. The regulation, the tandem driving solution, it seems totally common sensical to have two drivers to get around that rule.
>> Yeah, the only thing is now you're paying two salaries for the same trip.
>> Right, yeah, that would definitely increase costs. So maybe it's not so advantageous all around.
>> But then yeah, so I guess especially if we think about outside of food and agriculture, it may make sense.
Nobody is necessarily asking that you keep plasma screen TVs at a low cost. So maybe there are certain sectors of the economy shipping commodities who would say, okay, we'll go for this increased labor cost. But food and agriculture, they may have to have another concession to deal with increasing labor costs.
>> Right, right, another question about kind of broader macro economic impacts of this particular regulation. I'm wondering whether the mandate will give local food supply chains a boost as well, if it's more costly to ship things across the country because of this increased shipping time. I'm wondering if it might be a boost to the local food supply chain, so to link farmers markets and local food suppliers rather than big box stores.
Yeah, so I think kind of that's always the question as economists grapple with kind of where do you see efficiencies in agricultural production?. So one thing we're also, interested to know on road trucking, I've just kind of narrowed the scope of the conversation here now to the US, but we also have Mexico and Canada, which are very much involved in North America.
And so there's millions and millions of tons of products that are coming from Mexico and Canada. So you can think about, local in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico. Could be from Mexico. Local in Michigan and Minnesota could be Canadian. And all of that is still on road transportation. But not necessarily kind of in the argument of I'm buying local because local is my people, it's more kind of okay, well geographically local could mean different things to different routes.
And then also just generally have to think about agricultural production and agronomy. So some things grow better in some places and us trying to grow pineapple in Indiana will never be cost effective. So, We'll have to think about other mechanisms to get that product here. But that is I imagine always a topic of discussion kind of adjusting regional and local food systems to deal with other issues that are policies that are external to food and agricultural industries.
>> Right, and along the same lines, I wonder if there are any impacts on foods that are transported via air. So like the the pineapples that you mentioned, given that the trucking industry is being influenced by this regulation. There's kind of an indirect boost foods flown in from South America and faraway places.
>> Yes, as you saw in the graph I showed for agricultural products, less than 1% of agricultural products are shipped by air. So I don't wanna misspeak, but I imagine it's kind of very niche high end products that are coming in by air. Most are what either come by water, or depending where they're coming from perhaps if they're coming from South America, they may come by other mechanisms rail, if there's kind of a decent rail system.
But just generally because of the volume of agricultural products, they aren't often shipped by air.
>> Alright, yeah, it seems like there's so many interesting indirect effects from from this regulation. But yeah, it seems like if air is only 1%, then it might not have such a big impact.
>> Or may make room for air. So now they say well, at first we were on the cost of shipping it via on road trucking because it was cheaper than air but then now we know it's gonna take 38 hours longer to get my shrimp from Washington to Florida.
It may make it more economically feasible to start using more air transportation. So this is what we're kind of curious to get this granular data again to know kind of okay at what point for what style of shipments, what commodities are we seeing these big changes or maybe even small incremental changes away through to other alternatives.
>> Right. Well, Dr. Settles, thank you so much for your talk and answering really interesting questions that come from your research. Yeah, that's the end of our talk, and I'll turn over to Adam.
>> Thank you, everybody. Thank you, Dr. Settles, and Lingxi. Everyone have a wonderful day.
>> You too. Thank you guys. Have a great weekend.
Potential Environmental Impacts of New Transportation Safety Policy
This talk focused on the potential environmental impacts of national transportation safety policy, particularly the recent electronic logging device mandate for commercial motor vehicles.
Cynthia Giles - November 20, 2020
Description of the video:>> All right, hello, everybody. Welcome to another installment of the fall Environmental Resilience Speaker Series, jointly presented by Indiana University's Integrated Program on the Environment and the Environmental Resilience Institute. I'm Janet McCabe. I'm director of the Environmental Resilience Institute, and I'm really pleased that you're able to join us today.
Before we start, I'd like to acknowledge and honor the indigenous communities native to this region, and recognize that Indiana University Bloomington is built on indigenous homelands and resources. We recognize the Miami, Delaware, Pottawatomie, and Shawnee people as past, present, and future caretakers of this land. Both IPE and ERI are founded on the understanding that interdisciplinary learning and research are essential to teach today's scholars, and to solve today's problems, not to mention tomorrow's.
The natural and social sciences, the humanities, and the arts are all critical, and in play as we tackle climate change. And the environmental challenges that are affecting our health, our communities, and our economy here in Bloomington, and around the world. IPE was founded in 2012 by the provost and the leadership of the O'Neill School, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Public Health to bring together all of the environmental and sustainability scholarship across the various schools and departments on the Bloomington campus.
The ERI was founded in 2017, as part of the IU Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge. Its mission is to enhance resilience to environmental change in Indiana and beyond by accurately predicting impacts, and effectively partnering with communities to implement feasible, equitable, and research informed solutions. IPE and ERI faculty, staff, and students have worked together to bring us a full semester of speakers.
We'll round out the fall series on December 4th with a talk by President of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Jeremy Kranowitz. Next semester, we'll continue our series, beginning January 22nd with former Indiana Congressman Phil Sharp, who's been the CEO for Resources for the Future that will be a great talk.
You'll be able to find information about each talk on the ERI and IPE webpages, and in our regular newsletters and upcoming events notices that our organizations regularly send out. And we encourage you to sign up for our newsletter, so you'll get reminders about these upcoming talks, as well as other news and events we publicize.
If you have ideas for people we should consider for a future talk, please tell us that too. So a few obligatory logistical details, whoops. I don't wanna spoil the surprise here. Please mute yourself. We can do it for you, but we'd rather not have to. Please put questions into the chat box as you think of them, and we'll monitor them throughout the speakers talk.
And there will be an opportunity for questions at the end. We suggest that you watch this on speaker view, so you can see the slides and Cynthia most clearly. So now at long last, what you've been waiting for, I wanna introduce you to Cynthia Giles. You can see information about her on the screen here, so I am not gonna read that to you.
How tedious would that be? But I will say that I had the utmost pleasure of working with Cynthia for seven and a half years when, during the Obama administration, she was one of my absolute favorite people that I got to know at EPA. She was the head of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
And for those of you that have been in government, maybe there aren't any on on this call, other than me, but enforcement people are a particular breed of people. And Cynthia is just one of the most thoughtful and engaging people that I know who has worked in the enforcement world.
But man, you do not wanna be on the wrong side of her. And I often speculate to myself, I imagined Cynthia having conversations with her grandchildren-
>> Telling them what they can and can't do. And I think you will get a sense of that very quickly when she starts her talk.
The work that she's been doing since leaving the Obama administration is, I think groundbreaking, and really important if we are to design regulatory programs that actually achieve the goals that they're supposed to achieve, and she will lay all that out for you. She's been having some technical difficulties, so I'm going to be sharing her slides.
So please forgive as we manage that together. And with that, I will turn it over to Cynthia to start talking, and I will switch the slide back.
>> Thank you so much, Janet. It's really fun to be able to join you on this. And I just wanna tell folks that working with Janet was one of the highlights of my time in the Obama administration.
Never have and enforcement worked so closely together I think before. And you are just incredibly fortunate to have someone so smart and dedicated. And she's mean in the gym, I just wanna say too. So it's really fun for me to be able to be back with you, Janet, and I'm sure we're gonna have no problem navigating this slides.
Just as we've had no difficulties navigating the many challenges we had together for many, many years, and I wanna thank Janet for being so patient with me. I've been yammering in Janet's ear about this topic for a long time, but she's been very patient listening to it. So next generation compliance, this talk could also be called why do we have so many environmental violations?
And what can we do about it? So the next slide, just to to give you a little bit of background about where I'm coming from when I'm talking about this. So as Janet mentioned, I was the head of enforcement in the Obama administration. But prior to that, in my career, I've been a civil environmental prosecutor.
I ran an enforcement program for an EPA region as a career person. I ran a state water protection program, and I've worked in the NGO world. And the reason I'm mentioning that is to say that my background is broad, and I have been in the trenches with individual violators.
And I've been at the top levels of policy, and I'm gonna talk to you about, next slide, what I have observed during that, unfortunately, 30 years now, time working in environmental policy. There are two commonly held beliefs. The first is that most companies comply. You hear this everywhere.
Lots of people say it, NGOs, government, everybody, they say this, most companies comply. There may be a few bad apples there, maybe some companies, especially smaller companies, maybe not all complying, but most companies comply. The other widely held belief is that compliance is the job of enforcement, that the program offices set standards, and they write the rules.
And then they hand it over to the enforcement folks, whose job it is to find the violators and take enforcement. That view that compliance is the job of enforcement is so deeply ingrained, that most people don't even know it is a belief. They think it's just the way things are.
It's like gravity, they assume that without discussion. So next slide. Unfortunately Probably won't surprise you to hear that I've mentioned that because in fact both of those beliefs are wrong. In fact, serious violations are widespread. They are widespread for all sizes of companies, all business sectors, all different types of rules.
Serious violations are common in programs to limit the amount of pollution that is allowed. They are common in prevention programs, which are designed to prevent there ever being pollution like hazardous waste transportation rules, for example. And they are common in monitoring and reporting obligations, which is how government even knows what's going on in the world.
So over the course of my career, I have asked a lot of people, including people who spent their entire profession doing environmental protection. What's their guess, about how common it is to have serious violations of environmental rules? The most common response I get is people guess serious violation there may be 5 to 10% of the companies.
You wish, okay? It is nowhere, nowhere near that low. Serious non-compliance, 25% is the norm across all programs and many are much, much, much higher than that. The other belief that isn't correct is that compliance is really the job of enforcers. In fact, it's how the rules are written that determines the compliance outcome.
If the rule has lots of opportunities to evade or obfuscate or avoid, you're gonna have serious non-compliance. The design of the rule makes all the difference. So next slide, so why do we care about this? So what that there's so much widespread, serious violations. One is that there's a lot of pollution out in the world that people are being exposed to.
So this is a map of nonattainment areas the United States. I think the most recent numbers it's about 130 million Americans are living in areas, they don't attain air quality standards. About 50% of our surface waters are in listed as in poor condition. So there's a lot of pollution problems that these violations are contributing to.
The other is that there's lots of programs that don't fall in the bucket of traditional air and water pollution, where people are exposed and their serious health threat. So lead paint is this photograph is showing is one great illustration of that. That's not a conventional that's not what most people think of when they think of environmental protection, but those kinds of programs make a huge difference to people's lives.
And environmental justice is very central to this non-compliance problem because it's the overburden communities that get hit the hardest with these violations. So next slide. So what can we do? So, what I've been writing about and working on since I left during the Obama administration, but more aggressively since I left is what is the answer to that?
How can we do better job and rules to prevent these kinds of violations and what I call rules with compliance built in. So next slide. So, the way this resonates for people the most, I think, is to see specific examples. Like what's an illustration of a rule that works well because of next gen type things, and what's an illustration of some rules that don't.
So I'm gonna go through very quickly, very superficial high level view on four programs, two with good outcomes and two with bad, to show you what we're talking about here. So starting with the ones with good outcomes are two examples, acid rain and pesticide and herbicide called paraquat.
So next slide, starting with acid rain. So acid rain is the literally acidic rain that was falling on big part of United States. You can see in that map there in the red area, huge, huge problem. And the principal contributor to it was sulfur emissions from coal-fired power plants.
And so Congress said, hey, we gotta do something about this. We got to cut that sulfur dioxide emissions from those coal-fired power plants, so how are we gonna do that? Next slide. So what came out of that was the acid rain program, which is for anyone who's at all an environmental rule afficionado, you've heard of acid rain.
Because the main thing it's well known for is its market feature, capping the emissions, and allowing the utilities to trade to reduce the costs, that's its most famous feature but that's not its most important feature. That has nothing to do with why the rules succeeded, you can see on the map there.
This program really did make a huge difference in the sulfur dioxide emissions and acid rain and really is a master class and in good compliance design for a rule. So we're not gonna talk about cap and trade because it's not relevant to compliance question. So next slide. Here's the features that were in this programme that made it so amazingly successful.
The first is continuous emission monitors. So these are just monitors that you put in the back of the power plant that measure how much sulphur dioxide is coming out of there. And they do a pretty good job at it. So actually monitoring, not guessing, not estimating, actually monitoring.
Next slide. So how do you get the companies to actually maintain those emission monitors? So they're working and they're working properly. Here's a brilliant idea that was included in this. Substitute data requirements which says, say if your sales are down for not working right or they don't pass quality assurance, you gotta assume you had a lot more pollution than you probably really did.
So the company is very motivated to keep those working. Next slide. And then adding to that you require electronic reporting of all this data. So it allows all the data to be centralized, available in real-time. And that allows data checks and data analytics and tools to verify the information that companies are submitting.
The next slide. And then here's a very important and underappreciated next gen driver provisioning rule simplicity, okay? So the underlying problem is very complex is running and maintaining these monitors is complex, hundreds of pages of guidance are needed to figure it out. But the rule design itself is very simple.
It says, do you have one allowance, which is worth a ton of emissions, you have one allowance for every ton you emitted. Yes or no, compare column A to column B. It's very hard to miss, if you had a violation, the design is elegant to make compliance very easy to determine.
Next slide. So the outcome of all this was 99% compliance, those are numbers we can only dream of in other programs that almost never happens, 99% compliance. And the last feature that was there were many others too, but the last feature on dimension here that was cool about this is automatic penalties.
So you compare column A to column B, if you're short, you're in violation. You're short on your allowances, guess what? You have an automatic penalty to pay for that shortage. And the amount you have to pay per ton you're short is way more than it would cost you to go out and buy in the allowance.
So, Why wait and pay more, it's cheaper just to comply, so all these features together led to this 99% compliance in the coal fired utility sector. Okay, so that's the acid rain example and remember that point I'm going to circle around. The second to coming back to the coal fired power sector for a programme that was, in the bad examples category.
But first, a quick word on a completely different type of problem, Paraquat. So, Paraquat is a herbicide that is used as a weed killer, very commonly used. But it is also incredibly toxic, one sip can kill you and for that reason, it's restricted use pesticides. You have to be a certified applicator to use it and part of the rules about this herbicides are, that you are not allowed to pour it into.
Wouldn't think you'd have to tell people this, but you're not allowed to import into say a beverage container. To apply it or store it, nevertheless, even though it's unlawful to do that, people do it, they do it routinely. And 17 people died from accidental ingestion of Paraquat that had been poured into beverage containers.
Including one eight year old boy who found a Dr. Pepper bottle in his garage. That his brother had put their, who had obtained that paraquat by the way from a certified applicator, and the 8 year old drank the paraquat and died. So, what is EPA going to do, so next slide, so, warnings aren't working.
There's these big skull and crossbones, there's all this, don't do that, the rules are very clear but people are still doing it, and children were paying the price. So, EPA adopted a different strategy for paraquat that said, okay, we're not going to depend on you using good judgment.
The rule now says, it's impossible, you have to design your packaging. For this herbicide such that it is impossible to transfer it to a container. Like a beverage container, without completely destroying the whole packaging, so, don't rely on good judgment, just make it impossible. So that's another next gen type of an idea that thinks a little bit outside the box.
Of how you're gonna prevent these problems and not rely on some of the comment behind and try to enforce them. So, those are the two good examples, next slide, and here's now a couple with pervasive violations. And look at what was it about the design of those programs that led to such significant problems.
And the first one is lead in drinking water, which we as a country are unfortunately way too aware of these days. And the second one is coal fired power program called new source review. Which you're gonna be happy to know you don't need to know anything about new service or you to understand this example.
Okay, so the first one next slide, lead in drinking water, so what's the problem? So, lead is not usually, practically never, is lead actually in the drinking water. That gets shipped out of the water treatment plant, where you get your water, the lead isn't there. How the lead gets into the water is, it leaches into the water from lead that's in pipes or in fixtures in your home.
So, that's a very complicated problem, so the way the drinking water standards address that is. They say you have to treat the drinking water with materials that make it less likely to leach. Lead out of the pipes as called corrosion control and that's the principal strategy for dealing with lead waters corrosion control.
The next slide, so what actually has happened with the implementation of this rule? The rule contains a requirement, it's an obligation, a legal obligation enforceable. That the drinking water systems are supposed to sample, to check if they're corrosion controls working. They're supposed to sample at the places they are most likely to find high levels of lead and they're supposed to report in, that's what they're doing.
One study that looked at all the drinking water systems in the state found that. 50% of the drinking water systems were not, in fact, sampling at the places most likely to find high lead. Although they claim they were, so there's a big hole, is that how is the lead drinking water being implemented.
The other one is that the standard is not set, it's not a fixed number of parts per billion type of thing. It's what percentage of the samples are over a certain level, so, those of you who have taken math in grade school. Will know that you can change your percentage by just changing the denominator.
So, let's say you found five bad samples out of 100, now you've got 5% that are bad, okay? That's no good, take a few more samples that are gonna be clean and now your five same number of bad samples is no longer 5%. And this is such a well established practice that it has a name in the Drinking Water Program, it's called sampling out.
Lots and lots of systems a user, one study that was done in one state said at least 30% of the serious violations were masked by this sampling out. So, there's lots of ways to avoid finding a violation by the system and then the program sets up a lot of motivation to use.
Because the cost of compliance are very high and the drinking water systems know that it is very tough. For the state, which is the principal regulatory authority, very tough for the state to find a problem with the drinking water systems, not giving them the correct data. So, the systems are very reluctant to raise their hands, next slide, so what's the net effect of all of this?
Well, I'm sorry to tell you, we don't really know what the net effect is cause one of the problems. Of all these regulatory design challenges is that the government doesn't really know how bad that non compliance is. But here's one data point, remember is in the last slide, I was talking about how.
States aren't even gonna know that there's a lot more violations that are happening to the states even know about. But EPA has done some audits of the state's data to say all right, how are you doing the ones you do know about. So, okay, there may be a lot you don't know but the ones you do know about.
Are you telling EPA about them in the way that the rules require, okay, the answer is no, they are not. The most recent audit that was done state data said 92% of the lead in drinking water violations were not reported to EPA, 92%. So, when you look at the National Data that EPA posts on its website about how we doing with lead drinking water.
Yes, that's the data EPA's got, so they're providing what they have, but it's not nowhere near, not close to what the real violations are. And the reason is all these regulatory loophole problems that make it very, very easy for systems to avoid and for states to avoid. Owning up to the violations.
Okay, so that's one of the tough, the next one, one of the not so good examples and moving on to the second and last example, is a new search review. So new search review was, Congress basically looked around and said, jeez, we got a lot of really bad air pollution as a lot of it.
And we've got, we know how to address a lot of this violations. There's some modern pollution controls that could make a huge difference, in many cases, they can reduce the pollution by like 95%. I mean, huge difference for the types of pollutants that have some of the biggest impacts on public health of anything that EPA regulates.
So Congress said, all right, here's what we're gonna do, anytime you update and modernize your plant, you're gonna install the modern pollution controls. So over time, it was envisioned over time, we would clean up the existing fleet, talking here about coal fired power plants but applied to a lot of other industries too.
But here focusing on coal fired power, over time as you modernize and update your plants are gonna install modern pollution controls. And that way we'll have gradually improving air quality as you do that. So, if you were gonna design a program to say, how could I have worse possible compliance outcome in this program?
It would look a lot like new source review, so what are the features? Next slide, so what are the features of this program that lead to such catastrophically bad compliance? One is, it was very difficult to determine what rules apply to which plant. It was very fact specific, it was individual, there was a lot of details, there was a lot of huge amounts of data necessary.
So very complicated to determine, when did you modernize sufficient that be obligated to put on the modern pollution controls? Every decision was plan specific, so there wasn't a standard way to determine that, you had to dig into the facts of any individual situation. And there was almost no report, so all the day that government would need to figure out if a particular point was supposed to be modernizing was held by the company.
And they weren't gonna turn it over without a fight. And then on top of that, Hearken back again to the drinking water situation. The controls were very expensive, worth it because the public health benefits were gigantic, but they were expensive. So the companies were very motivated to find a way not to have to comply.
The net effect of all these many pathways around through and under, was huge, the serious violations of this became the norm. Over 70% of the top 25 coal fired power companies were in serious violation. I just wanna remind everyone, this is the same sector as the acid rain program with the 99% compliance, the same company, same sector.
The problem is not the sector, the problem is and whether it gives them a way out or it doesn't. So the next slide. So what EPA decided to do looking around and looking at all the violations on the gigantic public health impact of all these violations. EPA decided, okay, we're gonna go after them one at a time.
So we're gonna use the enforcement tool, and we are gonna just go after them one at a time and it was totally worth it. Because the pollution reductions were gigantic, public health benefits were huge. But it massively labor intensive and expensive undertaking to bring all these cases 20 years and counting, that EPA has been at the job of trying to enforce this standard.
It was some one of the former enforcement officials described a new source review for coal fired power is, the tobacco litigation of environmental protection. People were just avoiding their obligations, they weren't knowingly avoiding their obligations. And they waited to be caught and forced to do it, which EPA did do, but it's the exception that proves the rule.
It is almost never possible for EPA to obtain compliance in a sector by going after facilities one at a time. That it's just there's millions of facilities in the country that are governed by EPA rules. The one at a time strategy is a one off, it's almost never possible to do it through that kind of brute force method.
Okay, so next slide. So, there's the examples I just explained and many others are posted on the Harvard environmental energy law program website. And that's in the first paper, in the second paper that's posted there. In case you thought those examples were outliers and actually compliance is a lot better new.
Unfortunately no, there's serious non compliance is widespread, and the second paper, non compliance with environmental rules is worse than you think goes into all the data. As I said before, serious lack of not just any violation is not talking about minor things, serious violation 25% is the norm.
And many have serious violation rates in the 75 to 80% range, and unfortunately, lots and lots of them we don't really know. How bad a noncompliance is and the lead drinking water is one illustration of that. That's so next slide. So, what have we learned? How can we test whether a rule is going to be compliance resilient and it's gonna be able to obtain good compliance rates?
And here's one way to do that, is for the people designing and writing rules, ask themselves this question. If the regulated parties want to avoid complying, are there many ways to do that? So I am not suggesting that they want to violate, I think that's very rarely the case.
They don't wanna violate, but they're not making compliance a priority. They wanna be in violation but they're also not doing what's necessary to comply. So what we have learned is, if there are many ways to avoid complying, there's lots of ways around creative other wall you can count on it.
There are gonna be a lot of violations, so next slide, so what can we do? There are lots, many scores of ways to build compliance into rules, many ways just gonna give you two or one high tech and one very low tech idea. And it's gonna be included in my writing to go through a lot more of these in more depth.
So on the left there, one of the key ideas, central ideas, we saw this with continuous emission monitors in the SRM program, is measurement. Measure the pollution that would say happening, don't guess don't estimate actually measure. And on the left there, those two birchers and what you see is.
This was an attempt to actually measure the OCS from refinery failures and on the left, then the blue, the small blue is the amount that they were estimating. There were VOC is being emitted from those flares. And then the red is the actual amount of VOCs coming off the flares.
That's a pretty big difference between what they were asked of estimating and what really was happening and in that different in that delta, is a giant amount of public health concern. Okay, so that's a more high tech monitoring thing and on the right hand side is that they're not all high tech.
So in the state of Ohio, they imposed a requirement for sewage treatment systems that they had to go to all the outfalls, those are those pipes that come out of the sewage treatment plant that discharge into surface water. They had to post a sign that says see this pipe, see this pollution coming out of here?
We own this, here's who we are, here's our phone number. And that's posted at every outfall. And it turns out that the sewage treatment companies really don't want to get a lot of phone calls. From people complaining about the brown for me, John coming out of the pipe and they cleaned up their act, the imposition of the requirement to post these signs improved compliance.
So the next slide, so there's a lot of strategies that can work, okay, but some things never will. And Chief among those is a strategy that counts on inputs the entire burden on government, finding all the serious violations that's ever gonna happen. That strategy is doomed. You will never get good compliance with that strategy, the honor system at just saying here's what you're obligated to do and hope for cross your fingers.
Hope for the best also doomed, Okay. The evidence just doesn't support that assumption is warranted. Widespread violations are the norm. The assumption of compliance is not worth it and the last thing that will never work is assuming that enforcement is gonna come in behind and fix these problems.
That's we're seen that work yet with the single exception of new source review and it took 25 years to do it. So that's not a good plan, so next time. So I just want to say here, so that there is no chance of my being misunderstood, because when I talk about next gen, sometimes people say to me, so you're saying enforcement's not important.
No, I am not saying that, enforcement is essential. So much to add, you cannot have an effective compliance program without it. But what I'm saying is, enforcement alone will never be sufficient to make up for the gap that is created by a rule with bed, compliance design. So next slide.
So there's one other articles already posted, which is the ideologues performance standards and market strategies, which is about the policy orthodoxy that has swept through the environmental policy world that, market strategies are the next thing since sliced bread and everybody should do market strategies for every problem. And it takes on that point of view and explains why that's not a good all purpose solution for from a compliance perspective.
Next slide. Then the next article that is coming Is advised next-gen to the challenge of our time climate change. Its we cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past when the opportunity is now upon us to do something about climate change. We can't afford to repeat those mistakes in the rules that are coming up.
Next Gen is agnostic an ideology, and it just as one question, is it gonna work? Will you get the emission reductions that you're aiming to get out of this rule? And the climate article comes to the conclusion of yes. Some of them can work quite well with a few additional provisions, I can work quite well.
But it also says some of the most popular climate ideas cannot work. So watch for that, this coming next slide on the other things that are coming, I'm working on a book, next Gen. back to University Press. Other things are gonna be covered in the book one is so if this is such a great idea, why isn't APA doing it already?
And one of the reasons is guidance. That's EPA requires EPA rule writers to assume 100% compliance just assume it. So has encouraged EPA to live in the fantasy world where 100% compliance is free. So that's been part of the barrier. Next slide. One of the things that we have to do to implement some of these next gen ideas is update federalism.
We are still living with the federalism model from the 1970s, when EPA started and it's time to modernize that. And next slide, the last part of it is environmental enforcement. Environmental enforcement, must have, essential. What does environmental enforcement look like in the next gen era? So last lesson, so why is this important now?
A few reasons, one is as we all have just lived through so visceral in the last few weeks, we are a in many ways, divided nation around some of the topics that are most central for protection of public health. One of the advantages of many of the next gen ideas is that, they're not easily classified as regulatory or anti regulatory.
And that is, a huge benefit in today's political climate. And my personal experience has been, that states of all political stripes. I can get behind many of the next-gen ideas because they wanna be effective and they can they can't be labeled as regulatory or anti-regulatory. So there's no political blow back.
So it these ideas have potential even in a time of division in our and country. The second reason is we are now at the moment. This is the moment when it's possible to make a change and do something different. It is vitally important that we not think we're not going back.
We're not going back to how things used to be before the last four years that that would be a giant mistake. We need to go forward and adopt and modernize the Environmental Protection enterprise large, and nowhere is that more important than climate change. Our time is up this he got this one's got to be right.
There's no time for mistakes we this has to work and i think that some of these ideas will help us get there. So if your left side is if you're interested in any of this stuff and find it intriguing, if you wanna go and take a look at the papers that have been posted so far on the Harvard website, the address is there.
All right, well, thanks, Cynthia. That was great. It really took me back for those of you that might be interested in reading Cynthia's papers, she writes the way she talks. So they're really very enjoyable to read and not your typical academic journal type of writing. So I'm now going to check out the chat bar and see what questions we have.
So, one question we have is, for those of us working outside of government and policy, what can we do to encourage compliance? The societal norms or consumer pressure play a role.
>> They do, provided that the people who are writing the standards, build those in, and I think one of the principal ways that citizens can help is by raising their voices and an expectation that government's gonna do something to protect them from pollution on these other risks problems.
And so if a rules design, for a consumer facing product, which is not all of the PA's rules, by the way, a lot of the companies that APR regulates they're not consumer facing like coal-fired power plants, don't interact with you on a regular basis, but some of them are.
And if government does its job to design the rule to make the most use of that consumer pressure, then you as a consumer can really make a difference by paying attention to that information that you get and making your buying choices based on it. But I would say equally important to the consumer side of things, is your voice as a citizen.
Not, that you expect and that your government to have your back and to take care of these problems. That's government's job and they should be doing it. And if you raise your voice and tell me you're expecting them to. That helps.
>> What about local governments? We know that the National Environmental Laws are implemented mostly by the states and by EPA.
What's the role for local governments?
>> Local governments have gigantic power because at the local level, the people who run local governments are, geographically very close to it. The people who operate these different facilities, whether that's small facilities to even the largest ones the people who work in those facilities are members of the community in most cases, so local governments have a lot more Clout to put pressure on facilities to do the right thing.
Then they necessarily exercise even though sometimes yes their federal standards. Still, companies are very susceptible to local pressure plus I would say the other thing that can happen locally is individual tools to apply that pressure are very possible. They're not regulatory tools, but not all problems are solved through regulatory tools.
Sometimes public pressure is more effective than a regulatory tool. So What's stopping any local government from saying here's our worst ten polluters in the town of X, post that up on your website that'll get people's attention. Those kinds of things, if you think creatively about what can be done, there's lots of ways to intersect with these facilities to get better performance.
>> Yeah, I think that's right. I think transparency and shining a light on performance in a way that the public has access to, which is so much easier now that there's electronic reporting and there's websites and people are used to finding information on websites. There's really lots of opportunities there and programs that EPA has run for years like the Toxics Release Inventory and others where companies have to report and they get ranked.
And they really don't wanna be the
>> The company in the country that and it's the most toxic pollution of everybody.
>> It is certainly interesting, contrary to maybe what some people may think the power of being on one of these top lists actually does drive company behavior to a surprising degree.
They really don't want to be on those lists. Yeah.
>> I want to remind people if you have a question, please put them in the chat. Here's another one you mentioned federalism and that our notions of federalism are sort of antiquated. Now what does modern federalism look like?
And I'll just mention to that during the Trump administration, especially when Scott Pruett was administrator, we heard a lot about cooperative federalism and how EPA under Obama was not respecting the state's role. So I throw that into the question as well.
>> So I am a huge fan of cooperative federalism.
That's the model that almost all EPA programs are built upon. And the basic construct is you need federal standards because people everywhere got to be protected the same and you need State involvement because every place is not identical and things need to be adapted to local circumstance. The interplay between the federal standards and the state implementation has, resulted in what I would consider to be creative tension.
Okay, there's creative tension in there and has ever been thus, and so will ever be. And the federal and the state governments don't always CII on what should happen. That's fine. That's not a problem State suite in some cases badly in some places and they both learn from each other.
So where things need to be updated, I think, is the model that we first adopted for federalism in the 70s really was that all these facilities were gonna report to the state and then the states were gonna know what massage do whatever they are going to do and they will tell the EPA about whatever they designed to tell EPA about the information I mean, we're supposed to pay every view because then they really do that.
Okay. They haven't been doing that program after program, then it doesn't happen, that doesn't work that way. There might have been one could debate, but that could have been maybe a reasonable model when everything was on paper and the forms are all going to be mailed into local state office.
Okay. That's not the world we live in anymore. It is not insane to have a system where all the facilities in the country report to the States and then the States are hesitant and reluctant to share any of that information with EPA and limit what EPA can share with the public that is crazy.
So we need to be moving to a model that says the facilities are going to all report electronically into a central system to which EPA and the States and the public will all have access. That's just a different model. It's not the state as controlling access to information, why would we have that?
We are a joint system of governments to protect the public. The public's entitled to know about this information. It only makes sense that we share, because why wouldn't we? It's easy to do, there is no paper involved. Everyone should know the same thing and we're gonna have more accountable and more transparent governance and better pollution control not incidentally if we do that.
So I think it's a shift that has started to happen. It started happening in the water arena. EPA adopted a rule that basically shifted to that model for water programs about five years ago. And we need to do this I mean drinking water, the lead in drinking water is a great illustration.
why Why should it ever be possible that States know about, you know, 10 times the violations on as being shared with EPA and the public that should never be possible today. We can't have that. So we need to change the model and, and open the thing up in the way that electronic information makes possible.
Yeah, well here's another great one. I've thought about this myself a lot.
>> How does enforcement deal with accidental emissions related to natural disasters? And there will be more with climate change. Do you strive for a balance between strict enforcement and forgiveness? Or because time's up with climate change do we hold the line?
Can next gen solutions help?
>> I'm answering the first question. The last question first. Yes. Next Gen solutions can help and it's so great to get a question about this, because this is a really important part of EPA mission to deal with these kinds of problems. And it's outside of the box of your standard, water out of a pipe in air out of a stack.
But still, but far more of EPA's work is involving these types of issues than in just the standard types of air and water pollution. What we discover, when we see horrible accidents or when we see really bad things happen as a result of a natural disaster, coupled with, Facilities stored chemicals or for example.
What we typically see is those companies are not complying. Okay, that was not just some act of God who could have ever predicted. No, lots of times the reason that those horrible things happened is that the companies who were supposed to be checking for corrosion. In their pipes, or checking to make sure the valves weren't open or doing a host of other things that are preventive in nature, they weren't doing them.
And it's the nature of preventive programs that some of the time you don't do the preventive thing and there's no price to pay. Because the horrible thing that you're trying to protect against didn't happen so you're, okay? But there's going to be the time when that horrible thing does happen.
And the fact that you are caught up Then you were not doing what you were supposed to be doing combined with this external force and pressure is what created this bad problem. Most of the preventive rules are designed with the exactly. That kind of thing in mind, it's not like no one's ever thought about what will happen if we have a flood what's going to happen.
If there's no, I mean, There's plays in the country, they get those things all the time. So the rules say you have to be anticipating that you got to do this whole variety of things that are designed to make people allow people still to be safe from the chemicals or process or whatever you do, even though This bad thing is happening because it's not unpredictable or unforeseeable.
exactly when and how it's gonna happen. Yes. But not that there will be things like that. No. So what EPA typically finds is that there was a violation. Under there, underneath a violation of prevention obligations that led to this. So so this is right up the alley for next gen is to say, well, how are you gonna make that.
How are you gonna change the dynamic there so that we aren't in this pattern of no one knows if you're violating these prevention things until the catastrophe strikes, and then, the chemicals are all released and the people are all exposed. And now we're going to come after you enforcement I mean, yes, do we have to do that we do.
But that's not sufficient. That's not okay. The people who are exposed don't find that acceptable outcome. We have to do a better job of making sure those things don't happen. And that's what next gen is for is how to how to use the right tools and levers of government.
To create the situation where you have far, far fewer of those kinds of horrible problems.
>> Well let me ask you one more question that I think springs from that which is the examples that you share are great both pro and con and I've been involved in some rules that Were really creative ideas came forward that I think we're right in the in the space of Next Gen. But it but it's hard.
It is not the traditional way that regulators at the state or the federal level think about writing rules. So how do you insert the creativity? How do you bring the creativity in a different perspective? And I'm wondering if you know some of our academic colleagues who sit around and think outside the box maybe more than government Regulators.
Maybe should be sitting at the table have having these brilliant ideas. Hey, maybe we should just do it this way. Well, I would say two main things to that. One is sort of the inside the room. Strategy is we need a way to work into the rewriting process that, Question that I mentioned earlier on in the presentation of, are there ways for people to get around this stop and think for a second, are there?
And my experience has been and I talked to folks who were in the room writing rules and that you ask them that question. They think, yeah, okay, but that's not gonna happen. And it's no. You're wrong about that. If there's a way around, that is gonna happen. So it's getting people to understand that they need to think about their job in a different way.
And the other thing this is sort of my my next gen mission writ large, I guess I would say is To change those foundational assumptions that just about everyone involved in the Environmental Protection web of people who are focused on this. Just about everyone believes and have people stop saying most companies comply.
That's wrong, that is wrong. So we should just stop with that as an assumption. And we should stop with the, we know when there's these big catastrophes, or there's some horrendous criminal Well act, and everybody turns, you know, all the eyes pivot to enforcement and say, what are you gonna do?
I'd really like if that time, if all eyes would pivot to the people, wrote the rule and said, what is your problem? Okay.Why did you promote this? to happen.Now I think a different attitude maybe among the folks who write the rules that the assumption that compliances the job of enforcement is wrong,yes there's an important role for horsemen but the reason e have al these violations is we didn't do good enough job Designing the regulatory standard.
>> Well, this has been great. Cynthia, thanks so much for sharing your thinking with us. It's great and I think new and different for a lot of the people who are listening so keep it up. People, check out her papers and. come back and join us in December to hear Jeremy Crandall
>> that was beautiful. All right.
>> Thanks so much for asking. Bye everybody.
Next Generation Compliance: Environmental Regulation for the Modern Era
This talk focused on why many environmental regulations are not achieving their aims due to widespread noncompliance, and what we need to do to fix that.
Jeremy Kranowitz - December 4, 2020
Description of the video:>> Welcome, everyone, to another installment of the fall Environmental Resilience Speaker Series, jointly presented by Indiana University's Integrated Program in the Environment, and the Environmental Resilience Institute. I'm Sarah Mincey, I'm the director of the Integrated Program in the Environment. And I'm so pleased that you're able to join us today.
Both IPE and ERI are founded on the understanding that interdisciplinary learning and research are essential to teach today's scholars and to solve today's problems, not to mention tomorrow's. The Natural and Social Sciences, the Humanities and the Arts are all critical and in play as we tackle climate change and the environmental challenges that are affecting our health, our communities and our economy, here in Bloomington and around the world.
IPE was founded in 2012 by the provost and the leadership of the O'Neill School, the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Public Health, to bring together all of the environmental and sustainability scholarship across the various schools and departments on the Bloomington campus. ERI was founded in 2017 as a part of the IU Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge.
Its mission is to enhance resilience to environmental change in Indiana and beyond by accurately predicting impacts and effectively partnering with communities to implement feasible, equitable and research informed solutions. IPE and ERI faculty and staff and students have worked together to bring us a full semester worth of speakers, and we're rounding out this fall with today's talk.
Next semester, we will continue this series beginning on January 22nd, with former Indiana Congressman and CEO for Resources for the Future, Phil Sharp. So that should be an exciting talk. You'll be able to find information about each talk on the ERI and the IPE web pages and in regular newsletters and upcoming event notices that our organizations regularly send out.
And we encourage you to sign up for our newsletters so you'll get reminders about those upcoming talks as well as other news and events we publicize. If you have ideas for people that you think would be good for a future talk, let us know that too. Finally, just a couple logistics on how to engage today with our speakers.
You can remain muted, but put your questions in the chat. And do that as you think of them, so that we can gather some, and we'll be monitoring them throughout the talk, and there'll be an opportunity for questions at the end that I can ask for you. So at long last please allow me to introduce today's speaker, Jeremy Kranowitz.
Kranowitz has served for over 25 years in leadership roles to launch initiatives, raise awareness and build coalitions that promote diverse, sustainable and beautiful communities. Prior to his role with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Kranowitz was Managing Director for Sustainability of Hazon, an organization focused on building an environmentally sustainable world for all, with specific emphasis toward impacting change in Jewish communities.
Previously, Kranowitz was Founder and Manager of FurtherwithFood.org, where he built a public-private partnership among government agencies, major trade associations, and environmental and hunger relief nonprofits to combat food loss and waste. Prior to that, he was Executive Director and President of Sustainable America, a national nonprofit that provides tools and solutions for action toward a sustainable future.
Kranowitz also has served at the Keystone Policy Center as a mediator and an educator to resolve complex multi-stakeholder environmental disputes. He launched the Center's Youth Policy Summit, where high school students learned to become effective leaders on critical policy issues. Kranowitz has also managed operations at the launch of Forest Trends and international sustainable forestry nonprofit.
Jeremy has a BA and an MS in environmental science from John Hopkins and an MPA in environmental policy from New York University. So welcome, Jeremy. We're really pleased to have you today. I'm going to stop sharing my screen and turn it over to you.
>> Great, thank you so much, Sarah, and thanks for the lovely introduction.
I am now going to see if I can share my screen. Can folks see that okay?
>> Yes, that looks good.
>> Okay, great. So thank you for that. I am delighted to be here and to speak with all of you and thought to focus this conversation on the reasons why I think it's so interesting and important from an environmental resilience perspective to think about ways that we can engage more with the faith-based community.
So I'm a Johnny Cash fan. And for folks that are familiar with his music, he has this fun song called, If the Lord's willing and the creeks don't rise, and pop, that would be a lovely way to kick off and title this presentation. So there we go. So Sarah said some nice introductory remarks and a lot of it is just on this slide is repeated.
I do want to show, this was actually a fun shot of me at the Global Climate Action Summit which Governor Brown hosted in California just a couple of years ago, and I had the opportunity there to speak on a inter faith panel. We spoke concurrently at the same time that Harrison Ford was on the main stage.
We were on a smaller stage but so didn't have quite the same crowd that Han Solo received but have been thinking about opportunities to work with interfaith groups to try to make a difference on the environment for a while. So as was mentioned, I'm the President and CEO of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, for folks who are not as familiar, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful is a over 40-year-old organization.
It was actually started in the late 1970s by Mayor Hudnut who developed a public service campaign around with a basketball theme on the Hudnut hook where he was shown making a hook shot of getting litter into the proper receptacles. And it actually started as a part of city governments but then very quickly spun off to be an independent 501C3 nonprofit and has been, as I said, for over 40 years.
We do three main types of work to make the city cleaner, greener and more beautiful. One is we continue to work on litter abatement, what are the opportunities that we have to encourage folks to pick up litter. And also what are the opportunities for us to encourage people to stop littering in the first place.
The second big area of focus for us is on trees and I know this is Special interest to Sarah, but we partner with both the city and with our Water Utility Citizens Energy Group. To plant thousands of trees throughout the city every year. And I'm gonna be talking about that in more depth in this presentation.
And the third area where we spend a lot of time is in creating green spaces. And so if there are parts of the city or neighborhoods that do not have access to a good green space. We work with those neighborhoods to create green spaces that meet the needs of the neighborhood.
We don't just come in and say, here's what you need we actually work in partnership and try to create the right type of space. Based on the neighborhood needs, whether that is providing some, a place to sit down, and contemplate butterflies and other pollinators. Or whether that is a place for some play equipment or what have you, but try to fashion that to the needs of the neighborhood.
So those are really the three main actions that KIB takes to make the city a greener place and a better to live. I'm gonna talk a little bit more about KIB in a minute. But first, I just actually want to talk about some of the other work that I have done leading up to my present role.
And one of those that I wanted to mention is something that Sarah mentioned in her introductory remarks. I spent some time both at sustainable America and then thereafter really looking at the issue of food loss and waste. Several years ago there was a seminal book called American wasteland by an author named Jonathan Bloom.
And around the same time, there was a really important report that came out from the Natural Resources Defense Council, entitled, Simply Wasted. And both pointed to the same problem. That about 40% of all the food that is grown in this country does not get eaten. It either was getting plowed under by the farmer because there wasn't a good market for it.
It was getting wasted at the grocery store or the restaurant. Or just as likely was going to waste in residential refrigerators and in each of our refrigerators. And there started to be a number of different conferences and workshops and efforts where different folks were coming together and different stakeholders.
And there was this common refrain which was, gosh, it seems like there is already starting to be some redundancy of efforts in trying to tackle these issues. And it seems like there are some aspects to trying to deal with this that nobody is addressing yet. And we ought to try to figure out where the gaps are and the holes are in the research and the efforts to address it.
And so I actually brought together a number of different stakeholders. It included folks from the federal government from EPA and from USDA. It included folks from industry, I needed to bring in industry so I brought in the grocery manufacturers and the food marketers and the restaurant association. And then needed to also bring in a number of nonprofits as well on including hunger relief organizations like Feeding America.
Including environmental think tanks like World Resources Institute, and including some that you might not think of right off the bat. That would be interested in food waste, like World Wildlife Fund, but in fact, WWF this is one of their big efforts right now. Because if you think of all of the rain forest that needs to be chopped down to grow crops.
Or to raise livestock for food that then ultimately isn't eaten. It creates a biodiversity problem. And so that's why WWF is so engaged in this idea of limiting food loss. But the important thing is that it was really important to bring all of these different stakeholders together. Because each of them was coming with a different frame of reference, a different thing that was most critical that they thought needed to be addressed.
And really it helped collectively identify who could focus most on what and do it in the best way? And so, for example, there could have been folks that said I'm gonna make the world's greatest infographic on unused onions. And in fact, there may have been two or three groups that have already created such a thing and said, that, research that effort already exists.
You should focus on something entirely different that you could do better because the stuff that's out there is already really good so let's Marshall our resources effectively. So I just wanna talk about this because I think it's a good prelude to the next thing that I wanna mention.
Which is, I've used a framework when I build coalitions and build groups together. It's an acronym called steeple. Some people call it just use step. I added the extra letters to make it more like a church steeple. But what I want to do when I'm building a coalition to try to address complex environmental issues is really, think about different facets in society that need to be considered.
And so one of those is thinking about the social aspects. The technological aspects of dealing with this issue, the economic issues, both current market conditions. And what future economic conditions might be in terms of jobs and taxes. Importantly, from a university prospective thinking about what the educational opportunities and the educational aspects of this are.
Of course, it's important to think about the political and legal aspects. And I think about that as big p, politics in terms of congressmen, and legislators, and mayors, and city councilors. But also small p politics of just thinking about what is important to the community? And then the last letter that I like to think about is, of course, what are the environmental aspects of this issue?
And so when I am building coalitions and thinking about how to address these issues. I would like to first frame it through this type of steeple analysis. Because I think that when we start to consider all of these factors, we start to think about opportunities that aren't ignoring a particular stakeholder.
Or aren't overlooking an important factor that we need to consider. So coming back to KIB then for a minute, I mentioned the things that KIB does. But actually, I think of the organization more like a catalyst for change. We are doing all of these different efforts to try to make Indianapolis in particular a greener, cleaner city.
But really, even though we can bring trees and tools and so forth. We are really about bringing people together to make this happen. One of the reasons why the city has a contract with us is because in a typical year, we can mode we can mobilize over 15,000.
People to come out and volunteer their time to clean up their neighborhoods, to come together for a corporate volunteer day of service. To gather in a large community to do a big neighborhood cleanup. And while there may be some latent desire to do some of that work, it doesn't happen without an organization like KIB.
To really be that catalyst for change, to tell them, okay, here's the thing that we're all gonna be working on. Here's where we're going to meet. Here's the power we're going to do it, and really motivating and encouraging, and loving all of that community activity. So, as we all know 2020 has not been a typical year and in fact we have been able to do a lot of the work.
That we need to get done, but it has been truthfully quite hard for us to get all of the work done that we want to do just with staff. And with a small number of students and volunteers and others. We really do need to find ways to continued to work with folks that wanna come out.
But also wanna do that safely, and particularly during the, during the pandemic. So I wanna actually just turn for a minute to an interesting, contract that KIB has had with Citizens Energy Group. And talk about some of the lessons we've learned and how we are continuing to evolve as we work our way through this contract.
Because again, I think it is interesting and builds up to where I'm leading which is conversations really about the faith community. So we had conversations with Citizens Energy which had a federal mandate to clean up the white river. As folks may know, Indianapolis, but also places throughout the state of Indiana, have many combined sewer overflows.
So what that means is that during heavy rain events than really a heavy rain event can sometimes be just as little as a quarter of an inch. But that causes, both rainwater and sewage to co mingle and then it all gets flushed into the White River and causes these pollution events.
And so, Citizens Energy was ordered to clean up the river and mostly they are going to be able to do that through a deep tunnel project. Which is ongoing and it's improving the sewer system in the city. However, it did not get them 100% of the way to where they needed to be.
And so KIB is partnering with Citizen's Energy. Not on the gray material in terms of building new sewers and pouring new concrete, but on the green side of things. And so it was determined by citizens hydrologists that if we planted 10,000 trees in critical places around the city.
Those trees once mature would each be able to divert up over 10,000 gallons of water per year from their canopy and from their roots. And so that would, in addition to the work on updating the sewer system. Would be able to get citizens to the place where they needed to get in terms of cleaning up the white river.
So part of that is that we did an analysis there are actually over 100 combined sewer overflow basins just in Marion County. But we were able to do a ranking system were one of the things that we looked at of course was what the opportunity was in each of those basins to plant more trees.
If there was already a good tree coverage that wasn't a great spot. So we needed to have low tree canopy we needed to have plantable space. But we also looked at some demographic criteria in terms of, Median household income. Whether the percent of non white residents population density etc.
And created this map of a top, actually not a top 20 but a top 21 list of basins where we would do our work over the period of this contract. So just to give a quick idea when we start to map this out, this is one of the basins.
And each of this is on the Near EastSide of Indianapolis. And each of those dots represents a plantable spot there actually we were actually trying to find, 700 trees to plant in this particular basin. And these are 900 or 900 plantable spaces, and we often will try to find more spaces then we need to trace the plan.
For an important reason, and this is a, in the day before we go out to plant trees. We will often, drop the trees and and mark where they're going to go in advance. There are neighbors that don't always love that idea. So this is a story that I wanna tell about why again, engaging with different stakeholders is so important.
But this was a tree planting that was scheduled for the riverside community on the west side of of Indy. And we were able to engage with some neighbors along Riverside drive. And one neighbor said, my gosh, this is such a fantastic thing. I can't I've been wanting to have more trees here.
And that neighbor talked us up all up and down the street. And when we went to go and plant there all the neighbors said, this is so fantastic. Yes, of course we want, we want to have trees here. And you can see all of those green checkmarks in the top part of my screen.
On the bottom side of the screen on Pruitt street we had more of a curmudgeonly. Neighbor and as we talked to, that neighbor, they determined that trees were a terrible idea. They did not want to have to, mow around the tree because it was gonna be in the, strip between the sidewalk and the street.
They were worried about limbs falling and having to pick up leaves in the fall and there was a long list of minor complaints but. But no amount of discussion about all the positive aspects were able to break through. And he in turn convinced all of his neighbors, that trees were a terrible idea.
And so as we went to that street we got rejection notices from everybody and it was really unsuccessful. And so that was an important lesson for us and we realized that there were a lot of things that we needed to do better in order to engage more thoughtfully with the community.
One of the things that we decided to do as a result of that Riverside story is to do really focus more on community engagement. And thinking about what the opportunities were to attend more community meetings, to do a better job communicating with community groups and leaders. I think the perception was that KIB was coming into a neighborhood.
We didn't know the folks there as well as we could have. We weren't making a strong of an effort as we could have. We were, knocking on doors and hanging informational pieces of info at the doors but what were we doing enough. So one of the things that we decided to do is we do a lot of youth employment in the summer.
And what better way to engage with folks and get them to open their doors and then to deploy some of the youth we hire in the summer. And so sent them out to help talk to neighbors about why we thought trees were important and trees were great. And they were very successful in getting out and changing hearts and minds.
We did a lot, also think about how better, and more clearly to communicate what it was that we were talking about. And so, created infographics like the one on the right here, that describes what happens during a big rain event. So that folks could understand that the trees actually are playing or could play an important role in making a difference.
And everybody understands the need for a cleaner waterway and a cleaner White River and that was again another way that we could start to make a difference. And yes, these were all good steps, but we're not done and we really there's more still that we felt we can and should be doing.
So I'm gonna take a quick detour from my conversation about KIB and Sarah mentioned that prior to coming to KIB. I worked for this lovely and strange, nonprofit called hazon, it is the biggest sustainability non-profit for the Jewish community. In the US, and my task was to think about how do I make every synagogue, every community center, every school, more sustainable?
How do I make the buildings more sustainable, how do I make the programming inside the buildings more sustainable? How do I think about making the communities around, those buildings more sustainable. And one of the interesting things when I first started that job, the CEO said Jeremy, you've been working on sustainability issues for a long time.
What has been the Jewish thread in all of that work? And I looked at him like a Cocker Spaniel as sort of cocked my head to the side and said my wife and I are both Jewish, we're raising our children in a Jewish household. I consider myself culturally Jewish, but really In terms of how devout and how how serious I am, I would say I'm Jewish and, I'm not terribly devout, and I had never given it serious thought.
And I mentioned that to him and he said, well, think about it and, so that really resonated with me. And the thing that has really struck me since, that conversation, is this idea, that it actually doesn't matter what faith you have, all major faiths. Have something to say about caring for the world around us so, when I'm moving to Indianapolis.
I'm originally from the east coast. And one of the things I discovered as I was moving to Indy Is that there are more houses of worship per capital in Indianapolis than in any other major city in the country. And there are houses of worship of all flavors. And again, to reiterate it doesn't matter whether you are Hindu or Buddhist or pagan or, any of the any part of the number of Christian.
The rainbow of Christian beliefs are Jewish or others there is something in either spiritual text or in practice that. Describes, taking care of the world around us, and thinking about what the opportunities are, really, through this obligation of a moral thinking about it as a moral obligation to make a difference.
So one of the first things that I was able to do is actually fairly recently it was just this past October. We planted 200 trees in Garfield park in Indianapolis. It was done as part of a city's many Bicentennial celebrations, that's why we picked the number 200. But what I was really thrilled about is that we were able to bring a number of different spiritual leaders to come together and each share a prayer from their respective.
Faith about nature or creation care or something specific about trees. And, here is a picture of that group that we brought together. And then, they came together as pairs and were able to plant together. And so, I had somebody from the Hindu community and somebody from the pagan community side by side.
Planting a tree together and talking about what they shared in common. And what was fascinating about that was thinking about what the opportunities were to really engage in a thoughtful way with the faith community in a way that many environmental organizations don't do. So subsequently, keep Indianapolis beautiful was part of the spirit and place festival.
And this is something that happens every year. And one of the things that we were able to talk about then was, again, a panel of folks from different faith backgrounds. That were able to expand on this idea of trying to think about what the opportunity was and the obligation was.
And one of the things that I shared in that panel and I will share with you and here is a story that I heard from Vop Osili. So VoP is the President of the City-Council in Indianapolis. And he shared the story about taking his 96 year old mother to church and how the pastor complained that there was a vacant lot near the church.
That had a lot of litter and there were some weeds growing, and it was clearly abandoned and that the city wasn't doing its job, appropriately. And, Vop was driving his mom home afterwards and, said, Mom, I was thinking about what the pastor said what would you have done in your day?
And she has, his mother has been going to the same church her entire life, she said I don't understand the question. We would have just gone across the street and picked it up. And he said, right, and so he said he drove back to church the next day, and he went to his pastor, and he said, you are my spiritual leader.
But human to human, I wanna tell you, you're wrong and yes, it is the city's responsibility, but it is also our responsibility. If we want the area around our house of worship to look nice, then it's on us to make it look nice. And therefore, it's your responsibility as pastor to tell us If we want the area around our church to look nice, guess what?
We've got to roll up our sleeves and play a role in making that difference. And I said, I agree with you 100% and think that again as we think about how we can make a difference. Thinking about more opportunities with the faith community just keeps bubbling up as what I feel like is one of the most ripe chances for us to really make a difference.
So, I'm going to just show a couple more slides and then give you some concluding thoughts. So we have a mapping expert on our staff and I asked him to look at where institutions were in Indianapolis that were registered with the IRS as a religious institution. And each of these white circles represents a circle around the house of worship just in a few square miles of Indianapolis.
If I zoomed out further, it would just be a blur of white circles because there really are so many churches, mosques, synagogues, etc throughout the city. But what's interesting is if you zoom in even further, what we started to do is look at areas within these circles. So in the center of each circle, there's a blue dot which represents the actual location of that particular house of worship.
But then in the surrounding circle within which is a two tenths of a mile diameter. We can start to see that there is a huge opportunity for plantable space. One of the things that we are really thinking about and seeking is if we wanna increase the tree canopy in Indianapolis but really anywhere.
Where are the neighborhoods that could ask for it that would want to engage with us that would want to bring out volunteers. That would want to identify places nearby that they would like to beautify that could understand different reasons why Trees are important? And the answer is, that working with some of these different faith institutions is really an amazing opportunity there.
There is a huge amount of plantable space as I mentioned there is a huge desire. To try to work with folks to do volunteer efforts to try to make their communities nicer. But also, one of the things that I mentioned earlier is that we have had a hard time this year during the pandemic mobilizing large crowds.
Well the same is true for houses of worship mostly they're certainly some exceptions that I know the Governor and the Mayor are talking about. Slightly different rules and regulations that could be available for houses of worship to get slightly larger crowds inside. But really, there are lots of folks that are rightly in my view, a little worried and cautious and reluctant to come into inside a house of worship.
And yet there is a huge desire to still have that spiritual uplift and to find opportunities to connect, and to do good work, and to hear from their faith leader. And when I started to talk to a number of different faith leaders around the city it was like pushing out an open door, I met with zero resistance, folks that's amazing.
I mean, I could just have folks come together and do something nearby that would where there's a clear story that I can tell. That there is a parable or a line from our sacred text or some other important way of communicating about this importance. And at the same time creating this opportunity to make the city a better place and give spiritual uplift at the same time where do I sign?
I was also having a conversation with someone who is a doctor at one of the hospitals in the city, who belongs to a Mennonite Church, and it is across the street from a southern baptist, church to very different communities. But they had initiated conversations to try to figure out how could they do some work together?
What would the things be that they could genuinely find time to join together and do collectively? And I said, well, this is the thing, and he said, I think you're right, I think this is the thing. So, I'm encouraging them to think about what those opportunities might be.
But ending with this idea of the steeple, if we also think about What the social role is that churches and houses of worship play. They are locations in neighborhoods where there is often somebody who is considered a community leader. Where there is often opportunity to have community town hall meetings or gatherings.
Where there is additional social outreach, whether that is providing food or shelter or other social services. I know IU health, for example, which is one of the big hospital systems in the city is thinking about ways that they can do more distributed health care through houses of worship.
I think in conclusion, that as we start to think about how we build effective stakeholders and build an effective coalition of folks willing and eager to take on the task of beautifying the city, that the real opportunity before us Is really doing more to engage with the faith community.
And so for that reason, it's one of the things where as we move forward into the next few years, I anticipate that we are really going to be thinking about from KIB's perspective, how do we improve environmental equity? Thinking about where are neighborhoods that need more environmental benefits or need access to more environmental benefits?
And where are neighborhoods that have more environmental hazards? And what can we do to bring resources and assets to reduce those hazards? And I think that in partnership with those in the faith community, there's tremendous opportunity to bend the needle and to make a difference. So I think what I'm gonna do is conclude my remarks from the slides and would love to just engage in conversation.
And so if folks have thoughts about what I presented and would love to add comments in the chat box, I think Sarah and her team will throw those my way. But happy to respond to those as they as they come in.
>> Well, thank you so much Jeremy.
What wonderful work you're doing with KIB. And as you said, let's just jump right in to some of the questions and comments that folks have been putting in chat. And yeah, a reminder to folks just add those into the chat and I'll curate those for Jeremy as we go along.
So one came in that I think is really interesting. Not a religious studies scholar or a social scientist, but I think it's true that participation in organized religion has significantly declined, particularly among younger generations. Why invest so much in churches and synagogues and houses of worship? What do they offer?
How do they offer more bang for the buck?
>> So I love that question. And I think that it is absolutely true that there are some institutions that are stable or declining in membership, but that is not universal in that there certainly are communities that are growing. But I will share just a personal story, which is, I mentioned that I'm moving permanently to Indianapolis coming from Connecticut.
And at our synagogue here in Connecticut, we had a rabbinic transition a few years ago. And the leading candidate to be our incoming senior rabbi was the person who was our junior rabbi. And what he would do during warm evenings, Friday evenings, is he would take his guitar and go down to Long Island Sound, we live close to the water in Long Island.
And he would do an evening service down by the water. And you could bring a picnic blanket and bring a picnic and your kids could run into the water. And it was all fine and then we'd watch the sunset. And that would conclude the ceremony and that would conclude the service.
And everyone loved doing this. We were not wearing a coat and tie. We were not sitting in a pew. We were out in nature getting some spiritual uplift but also just having a sense of community and belonging. And when we wanted to survey our members and see what they wanted to see in the next senior rabbi, there was an open text box in the survey.
And 160 families wrote in some variation of we wanna see more Rabbi Evan on the beach. And so we knew that that actually was something that was really resonating. I do think that while there's truth to the statement that folks are maybe less inclined, particularly the younger generation, to do something indoors where they're sitting in a traditional brick building, the opportunity to actually do something outdoors, it's low hanging fruit.
It is ripe for engagement. And that's actually one of the reasons why I think different spiritual leaders are particularly excited about thinking about these partnership opportunities.
>> And that might be particularly more effective at a time when people feel trapped inside with the pandemic. I know national park attendance and all this is way up, right?
I wonder if COVID has affected your volunteer groups or general engagement? Do you think people are more interested in knowing about trees and planting trees to be outside doing something together?
>> Yeah, so we have taken steps to be very cautious. And we have made sure that we were no further, we did not get in front of the mayor of Indianapolis who was already a step behind the governor of Indiana.
And so we've kept our group size to 25 people for outdoor events where again, where physical distancing can happen. And one of the things that we found is that we actually do have those events that we do make happen, we get those volunteers to sign up right away.
There is pent up demand for folks to join these efforts. But we are being very, very serious about about capping those numbers. But I do think one of the things that we have is a program called the tree tender program where we train folks to plant trees the right way.
So Sarah, I'm sure you can appreciate this, that there's a right way and a wrong way to plant trees. And so we do this sort of mini training for folks to be a tree tender. And we are finding that that's actually gonna be something that I think we're gonna be doing more of going forward.
Because having a bigger core of folks that have that level of training will enable us to to send them out and With less direction and less oversight than we might, otherwise, need with a full-time arborist looking over them. To make sure that that enables us to get more trees planted, because the desire is there.
>> I love this question. Houses of worship, despite the religion, have commonalities. Do you have advice for starting a coalition on an environmental topic between seemingly disparate groups, any actions to definitely do, or definitely avoid? Definitely do or definitely avoid. Well, so there are, I'm coming at this actually through, thinking about what keeps Indianapolis beautiful can do with with the work that we do.
There are groups, there's nationally, there's a group called interfaith Power and Light. And within Indiana, it's called Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light, which really is thinking about, what the opportunities are at houses of worship to put solar panels on their roof, to think about energy efficiency. It's really through an energy lens.
And certainly, if you can save money on your energy bill and be more renewable at the same time. Well, that's great. But thinking about things that could be pursued together, what's interesting and what we uncovered in the conversation that we had as part of the spirit and place festival, is that a lot of major religions, of course, align their holidays around the harvest cycle.
And so there are times for planting and times for harvesting and so forth, that are actually very closely aligned. And so I actually do think that thinking about the agricultural calendar can help identify some opportunities where there might be similar holidays. And opportunities for different faiths to come together and do something together in a way that they might not have considered before.
>> You mentioned the future work for KIB and someone stated you know KIB does seem to be very important to help address systemic environmental and social justice issues in Indianapolis. You clearly agree. And how do you see that really fitting in to KIB's work in the future. And another person asked, about what environmental hazards are you actually focused on.
They were interested to know what exists within Indianapolis. What are they and what are the next steps?
>> Sure, so just addressing the the second part of that first, when we start to think about some of the hazards, some of them are related to things, again, where we feel like we can have a positive influence.
So if we're thinking about heat island effect, for example, there are parts of the city that have, lack tree canopy that have lots of concrete, where we feel like we can make a difference. There are parts of the city that are more prone to flood events. And, again, coming back to the relationship that we have with citizens energy, thinking about opportunities to plant trees as flood mitigation.
Because those trees will slow down and absorb a lot of water during rain events. Thinking about that as well. And then a third category is really just thinking about, where litter happens, particularly thinking about storm drains and how all of it washes into the river. And so thinking about water quality but what are the opportunities to prevent litter from flowing into sewers and drains and ultimately into the river.
So that sort of addresses the hazard side of things. One thing though, that I do want to mention is that historically, this is changing and it's actually changing fairly rapidly. I think KIB is, has a more diverse staff, and a more diverse board, than it has had in the in the past.
And we're continuing to be thoughtful about that and to work on that. But historically, it was a primarily White staff and it was a primarily White board. And so if we want to engage with different neighborhoods, then it helps if our staff and our board mirror the neighborhoods where we want to work.
And so that is an important piece of this. But the other thing that's important is that if we have partnership with some of these houses of worship, again, they're often low, important beacons within a particular neighborhood where partnership with that pastor, that reverend, that priest that, rabbi, etc.
Our way of engaging more thoughtfully, more genuinely, with that community. And so it helps to have somebody who is seen as an authority figure in that neighborhood, as an advocate for this work. And so I think that's the idea there, of that partnership
>> That's great. It's interesting to me, you showed the picture of the tree that was snapped off and told the story about a community leader that persuaded the neighbors not to want the trees.
And it struck me that you said that the concern was that he didn't want to have to mow around the tree, right? But I think it's, and then you talked about leaf litter and having to deal with all of that. And in some ways, I do think those are small problems, but actually when you think about it from an environmental justice lens, those aren't small problems to some people, right?
>> When they're thinking about putting food on the table, than having to have a little bit more time to mow or pick up leaf litter, I mean, really does make a difference, right. So how do we connect with that issue? Like low Income communities, when they are challenging you about the cost to them of putting trees in the ground.
How does talking about the benefits of trees make a difference to them? How do we reach them?
>> Yeah, I mean, it's a really good question and there are related questions, Sarah, about some of the unanticipated benefits. But there's been research that has shown increase in property value associated with trees that, with streets that have better tree canopy.
And some worries about gentrification and what that might mean as well. So in terms of not just an added burden, but actually leading toward displacement of folks that have lived there a long time. These are, definitely tricky issues. And, one of the things that we are doing is we have on our staff, created a diversity task force.
We, are bringing in community members that are thinking about how we can address these issues thoughtfully. And again, do it in the places where the benefits are understood and to those communities outweigh any of the negative issues. I will say that for trees that can be plants. We are the ones who make sure that those trees are mulched and watered and pruned for the first three years after we plant them to make sure that they are well established.
And don't require additional care after which point they are fairly resilient. Themselves and able to take care of themselves. But there are some issue we agreed that leaf litter could be an issue. And that story about talking with a neighbor who he said that he didn't wanna turn the steering wheel on his riding mower.
Is it is a true story. So, but you do use the steering wheel on your lawn the rest of your lawn, but apparently using it one more time was just too much. So we are careful about doing this and going where we are wanted and where the where folks do want to engage with us and we don't plan if it's not wanted.
So that's a clear piece of this but it's a really great question and it's something that we're gonna be continuing to think about and work on going forward to be thoughtful partners on this.
>> I think I just have to give Cabbie Props I do. I'm very familiar with your youth tree team.
And I feel like that's a place that you really have had a lot of diversity in your staff. And so I think that you're now diversifying more among your full time employees as you said and I think that's going to be very useful to reach more communities. Well Jeremy, we're a time it's 1 o'clock.
So wanna respect that and let me thank you very much on behalf of Indiana University and the Integrated Program in the environment and the Environmental Resilience Institute for coming and spending your time with us today. It was really intriguing talk and we were really thankful to have had you.
So thank you very much.
>> Well, it's my pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.
>> Yeah, yeah. And to everybody, please join us next semester. Again we'll start again on January 22 with Phil Sharp. Thanks, everybody. Have a great day.
If the Lord’s Willing and the River Don’t Rise
This talk focused on building a coalition of spiritual leaders in Indy to collectively work on improving environmental equity by drawing upon common religious obligations to care for the world around us.