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Release: April 16, 2001

UI Public Policy Center awarded $500,000 contract to study environmental justice issues

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Public Policy Center in collaboration with URS Corporation has been awarded a $500,000 contract by the National Research Council to study environmental justice issues.

Environmental justice represents a public policy goal of ensuring that adverse impacts of projects such as road improvements must not fall disproportionately on low-income populations or minority populations. Environmental justice has become an important policy issue in government since former President Bill Clinton issued an executive order in 1994 mandating that it be addressed in all government projects.

David Forkenbrock, Center director and co-principal investigator of the two-year study, noted that the project, "is a major effort to develop analytic methods for taking into account environmental justice when evaluating proposed public investments in transportation facilities."

The study will look at what populations would be impacted by air and noise pollution caused by transportation projects, but also the impacts on economic vitality, personal mobility and community cohesion in these areas

The methods to be developed by the study team will improve the analytical capabilities of states, metropolitan planning organizations, and their planning partners, Forkenbrock said. This study builds on a book he recently completed for the National Academy of Sciences.

The UI Public Policy Center brings together faculty, staff and students from numerous disciplines to promote positive social change within Iowa and the region. The Center works with public and private organizations to discover solutions to problems related to public interest.

The National Research Council is the principal operating arm of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities.

The URS Corporation, based in San Francisco, does planning, design, and program and construction management for transportation, hazardous waste, industrial processing and petrochemical, general building and water/wastewater projects.