Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Robin Saha

Commitee Members

Len Broberg


coal, greenhouse gas emissions, environmental justice, sustainability


University of Montana


My portfolio focuses on the calculation of industrial emissions and their impacts on the environment, as well as, the implementation of sustainability measures in the workplace to reduce environmental impacts. Understanding and reducing these impacts is critical as the effects of climate change become more apparent and well understood. As the world grapples with the consequences of industrialization on the environment, leaders and individuals are pushing for more sustainable business practices to mitigate and reduce anthropogenic impacts. There are 3 parts to this portfolio: two applied pieces and an internship piece. Part 1 applies areal apportionment, an environmental justice analysis method, to 2009 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Transfer Data for Mississippi. Part 2 explores greenhouse gas emissions associated with coal mined in Montana and exported for electricity production. The final part summarizes my employment with the U.S. Forest Service as a sustainability consultant. The piece describes three projects I have developed and co-developed in an attempt to meet restrictions and regulations set by the agency and Executive Orders. Part 1: Environmental Justice Analysis of Toxic Release Inventory Off-Site Transfers to Mississippi The idea for this study came from the EPA’s Risk Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) Consortium meeting in Spring 2010 in Amherst, Massachusetts. I was invited to attend the Consortium meeting by my advisor, Robin Saha, who belongs to the group that is made up of faculty and graduate student researchers at various universities. While several studies have looked at TRI air emissions, none have looked at transfers of TRI chemicals to other facilities and the demographics surrounding the receiving facilities. Thus, this environmental justice study began with a concern for the communities that receive TRI off-site transfers. I was specifically interested in the southeastern portion of the U.S. I began by analyzing off-site transfers to EPA Region 4 and found that most of the states in this region transfer waste within the region. I then decided to focus on my home state, also the state that received the most pounds of off-site transfers. I conducted an in depth analysis of the demographics surrounding the facilities that transferred waste to the ten facilities that receive the vast majority of transfers in Mississippi. From this analysis, I determined whether facilities transferred toxins to areas with higher percentages of minorities and lower socioeconomic conditions. Part 2: Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Mercury Associated with Coal in Montana A portion of this study was completed for the Montana chapter of the Sierra Club’s Beyond the Coal Campaign as a project for environmental studies class (EVST 501) titled Scientific Approaches to Environmental Problems. This study on Montana’s coal seeks to determine the greenhouse gas emissions (specifically carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) associated with coal produced and exported from Montana to other states for electricity production. Information from the Energy Information Administration for 2009 and 2010 coal production, consumption and export data are used in calculations derived from the EPA’s methodology for greenhouse gas emissions calculations. Mercury emissions from 5 plants producing coal-fired electricity in the state of Montana are also calculated for 2009 and 2010 using information from EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory. The calculated emissions are then used to provide a more accurate assessment of Montana’s coal contribution to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and mercury emissions within the state. Part 3: Forest Service Sustainability Consulting I have worked as a Sustainability Consultant for the U.S. Forest Service Aerial Fire Depot (AFD) in Missoula for more than 800 hours since May 2010. My role as a consultant is to develop and implement sustainable practices that meet standards and reduction

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© Copyright 2012 Meghan K. Oswalt