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Skewed Sustainability and Environmental Injustice Across Metropolitan St. Louis, Missouri

Authors: Troy Abel*, Western Washington University, Debra Salazar, Western Washington University
Topics: Sustainability Science, Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Critical sustainabilities; environmental segregation; inequitable development, air pollution disparities
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: Download



Urban and industrial air pollution exposure disparities continue to challenge the sustainability efforts of many North American cities. In this chapter, we review the case of the St. Louis region and its multi-decade problems of racial segregation, inequitable development, and air pollution exposure inequality. In particular, we evaluate recent efforts by the St. Louis region to overcome past challenges and initiate a new regional plan that incorporates sustainability and livability principles through coordinated planning that integrates housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments. This regional planning effort provides the opportunity to examine whether the sustainability-focused planning conducted by the region incorporates environmental equity issues, or whether air pollution disparities in the region continue to be a blind spot. We examine the adopted regional plan and apply measures of environmental inequality to examine the local distribution of pollution burden. Sustainability Planning in St. Louis neglected air toxic disparities and their health inequities. A skewed sustainability perspective therefore obscures the region’s persistent environmental and health injustices. Through our case study, we reveal the tensions between sustainability and livability planning and its response to issues of environmental injustice.

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