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Federal agencies to integrate equity into climate change repairs

I-94 flooding-.jpg
I-94 flooding stopped traffic in 2021, but climate change has also caused flooding in disadvantaged neighborhoods nearby.

The federal government is beginning to step back and look at things differently when it comes to climate change.

If climate change-liked flooding swamps interstate highways, typically the Department of Transportation would fix that problem. But, those same flood waters could be affecting the low-income neighborhoods that those highways cut through.

In a pilot program in southeast Michigan, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is trying to look at the bigger picture.

“There’s social equity and climate change. So through those two lenses we can prioritize where the biggest problems are,” said Ned Gardiner with NOAA’s Climate Program Office.

NOAA is collaborating with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other groups to look at better ways to use climate information in transportation planning. They also plan to use equity as a lens for understanding the information and helping disadvantaged communities that are also affected by flooding.

“There are some people who look at social things. Some people look at road conditions. Some people look at modeling. And by bringing these data together, we can start asking better questions,” Gardiner explained.

Southeast Michigan is one of two pilot programs in the U.S. that could get NOAA and transportation officials to integrate equity-centered climate resilience into transportation planning.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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