The Spatial–Racial Patterns of U.S. Dam Removals Since 2010

Joshua C. Galster, George C. Galster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Dam removal in the United States has grown exponentially, yet we do not know whether the pattern of such removals comports with principles of environmental justice. This exploratory study investigates the spatial pattern of dam removals across the United States to ascertain whether there were any geographic areas where the probability of removal was correlated with the racial or ethnic composition of the environs. We analyze dam removals since 2010 using national data on existing dams, removed dams, and demographics. We estimate multivariate probability models of dam removal stratified by census region and dam ownership to pinpoint contexts where significant spatial-racial patterns occur that cannot be attributed to dam characteristics. Our exploration reveals only a few such contexts. After controlling for dam purpose, construction type, age, and height, the probability of a dam being removed since 2010 is positively associated with the proportion of nearby White residents for dams owned by local or state governments in the South. The probability of removal is negatively associated with the proportion of nearby White residents for dams owned privately or by state or local governments in the West. Future case studies should probe these contexts of clear spatial–racial patterns from an environmental justice perspective.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProfessional Geographer
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • census tracts
  • dam removal
  • disparate impact
  • GIS
  • race

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