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The Cumulative Burden of Air Pollution Health Impacts & Energy Inefficiency in Southeast Michigan


Graham Catalyst Grants

This project received a $10,000 Catalyst Grant in 2019. Additional project support provided M-LEEaD.

Project Summary

Beginning in July, 2019, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) will consider a future energy-mix scenario (coal, natural gas, and solar) from the Integrated Resource Plan as well as a new electricity rate structure from one of the state’s largest energy providers, DTE Energy.

To inform the MPSC, this team will perform a health impact assessment to estimate the health costs for different energy-mix and rate scenarios, and combine the results with electricity-related fuel poverty costs.

Substantial spatial, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic variability in fuel poverty exists in Southeast Michigan, with many residents paying an unaffordable percentage of their income as utilities due in part to inadequate home weatherization and appliance inefficiencies. Air pollution exposure is also associated with low socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity in this region. Therefore, the combined economic burdens of air pollution health impacts and fuel poverty may represent greater disparities than the individual burdens.

The team will work with environmental and community organizations addressing energy and climate change in order to share the assessment results and recommendations widely with the MPSC, environmental justice policy advocates, and housing repair and weatherization providers. This project summary will help stakeholders prioritize weatherization disbursements as well as inform Michigan weatherization and environmental justice policy.

By piloting these methods, the project will inform methods for performing cumulative impact assessments in this region and beyond.

Project Team
Carina Gronlund, Institute for Social Research (PI)
Tony Reames, School for Environment and Sustainability
Michelle Martinez, Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition

University of Michigan - Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute
Research Areas