Council on Environmental Quality, EPA Release Environmental Justice Screening Tools

On February 18, 2022, the Biden administration launched two tools to address environmental justice.

Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (EJSCREEN) 2.0

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) announced EJSCREEN 2.0, an update to the mapping tool, which the Agency uses to identify areas that may have higher environmental burdens and vulnerable populations. EPA uses EJSCREEN to inform several Agency functions, including permitting, enforcement, outreach, and compliance.

In addition to making the tool more user-friendly, this much-anticipated update adds new indicators, including but not limited to

  • an environmental indicator on underground storage tanks
  • a socioeconomic indicator on unemployment
  • a health indicator based on life expectancy, asthma, and heart disease based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • indicators on “critical service gaps,” including food deserts, medically underserved areas, and areas with limited broadband internet access
  • a climate change indicator with data on droughts, sea-level rise, and wildfires

EPA will provide training on how to use EJSCREEN 2.0 on March 9, 2022.

Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool

In addition, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released the beta version of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. The screening tool, directed by Executive Order 14008, is intended to measure progress on the Biden administration’s commitment to environmental justice in disadvantaged, underserved communities. Data collected through the tool will inform the Justice40 Initiative, which seeks to deliver at least 40% of the overall benefits of climate investments to disadvantaged or underserved communities and inform equitable research, development, and deployment across the federal government.

The screening tool identifies disadvantaged communities based on a set of environmental and socioeconomic factors, including a community’s vulnerability to climate change, legacy pollution concerns, and health issues associated with pollution. Notably, the screening tool does not consider race, despite a recommendation from the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council that a key factor to determine whether a community is underserved is whether it is majority minority.

CEQ is accepting feedback on the screening tool for 60 days.

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