EPA Releases New National Environmental Justice Screening Tool for Communities
Today, EPA publicly released EJSCREEN, a new web-based environmental justice mapping and screening tool that, for the first time, will provide information communities need to assess environmental and health problems and disparities, across the United States.
EJSCREEN provides high resolution maps showing nationally-based demographic and environmental information that helps the user understand potential environmental justice issues in a particular area. EJSCREEN only includes data available on a national scale but is an important first step in identifying and assisting communities overburdened with pollution. Communities can now test this new environmental justice tool by accessing it through EPA’s website, www2.epa.gov/EJSCREEN. EPA will be seeking public input and updating the interim tool by early 2016, including by adding data on hazardous air pollution.
Earthjustice has worked for years to urge EPA to strengthen the tools available to provide information and assess the health impacts and disparities of pollution and environmental problems at the community level. EPA first committed to create a national environmental justice screening tool as part of its Plan EJ 2014, the environmental justice strategic plan created by former Administrator Lisa Jackson.
In early 2015, together with over 40 community groups from around the U.S., Earthjustice submitted a letter to the Administrator emphasizing the importance of releasing EJSCREEN for public input and use as soon as possible. Earthjustice will continue working with community groups to review and consider appropriate feedback on EJSCREEN during EPA’s outreach period through December 2015. Earthjustice will also continue to support EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice’s efforts to provide public access to up-to-date scientific tools that can help advance the consideration of environmental justice and ensure that equity is at the forefront of agency decision-making, including long-overdue action needed to address the cumulative impacts and cumulative risks of pollution.
Statement from Earthjustice legislative counsel Stephanie Maddin:
“We are delighted to see that EPA has released the first-ever national screening tool for environmental justice. We know that too many communities in the United States, particularly communities of color and low-income communities, face extra, harmful pollution from sources like oil refineries, and EJSCREEN will help shine important light on this unfairness.
“EJSCREEN will help the agency, local communities, and advocates better consider and address the disproportionate burdens that too many local communities face from pollution and other environmental problems. We encourage EPA to seek broad public input on this new tool and we look forward to using this new tool to help ensure local communities have the best, current information available to address serious environmental health problems and provide the strong protection from pollution that all Americans deserve.”
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