Policy Alternatives in Adaptive Communities: Simulating the Environmental Justice Consequences of Hazardous Site Remediation Strategies


  • The author would like to thank Cliff Shang and Peter Lufkin for their support in using simulation methods; Anand Desai, Heather Campbell, and Yushim Kim for assisting with development of the model used here; and the anonymous reviewers for providing detailed, constructive, and thoughtful feedback throughout the process.


Many governments have implemented environmental justice mandates requiring agencies to consider the implications of cleanup decisions for poor and/or minority populations. To the extent that this mandate alters decisions, it usually does so by considering the composition of a community in the present without adjusting for potential demographic changes that may occur over time. However, communities change and these changes are likely to affect how well an agency meets its environmental justice mandate over the long term. In this research, an agent-based model is introduced to simulate how alternative environmental remediation scenarios may affect environmental justice outcomes in a dynamic residential environment with two demographic classes with preferences for living in proximity to neighbors similar to themselves. Under these circumstances, there is unlikely to be one best strategy to achieve both environmental improvement and environmental equity, and a focus on valuable land is the least effective over the long run.