Read Dr. Finewood’s new paper assessing barriers to accessing GSI incentive programs in the US

In a paper published in the Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning (January 2023), Environmental Studies and Science Associate Professor and Chair Dr. Michael Finewood and colleagues take an equity planning approach to assess barriers to accessing green stormwater infrastructure incentive programs. The paper was co-authored with Environmental Studies student Olivia Pierce ’20.

Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) is part of a suite of sustainability initiatives that are vital to tackling climate change. However, siloed governance structures that traditionally implement stormwater infrastructure are not well-suited to address the cross-cutting goals of such initiatives (i.e. incorporating social equity along with technological aspects). Equity planning centers social equity in policy development and can help ameliorate this siloing.

In this paper, the authors apply equity planning concepts to examine GSI incentive programs developed in the United States to address current funding gaps. The authors explore GSI incentive programs included in federally-mandated Stormwater Management Plans (SWMPs). Programs found through a scan of readily available SWMPs ranged from $20 rebates to $500,000 grants, providing a range of opportunities. However, closer analysis of application materials suggests potential institutionalization of inequality through restricted access. Barriers to accessing these programs can limit participation by marginalized or under-resourced communities and instead redirect scarce resources to communities who already have strong capacity. Thus, the authors argue that centering equity in the development of sustainability incentives and conducting meaningful equity analysis should be applied to GSI programs to reform practice and avoid institutionalizing inequity.

Read the paper titled “Institutionalizing barriers to access? An equity scan of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) incentive programs in the United States” here. 

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