WASHINGTON–The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released EJSCREEN, an environmental justice screening and mapping tool that uses high resolution maps combined with demographic and environmental data to identify places with potentially elevated environmental burdens and vulnerable populations.
EJSCREEN’s simple to understand color-coded maps, bar charts, and reports enable users to better understand areas in need of increased environmental protection, health care access, housing, infrastructure improvement, community revitalization, and climate resilience.
“EJSCREEN provides essential information to anyone seeking greater visibility and awareness about the impacts of pollution in American communities,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “EJSCREEN has been a valuable resource for EPA to advance our commitment to protect Americans most vulnerable to pollution. I’m excited to share this tool with the public to broaden its impact, build transparency, and foster collaboration with partners working to achieve environmental justice.
“State environmental agencies appreciate EPA’s collaborative work on the use and release of this important tool,” said Dick Pedersen, Director of Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality and past President of the Environmental Council of States. “Citizens having access to environmental and demographic data is extremely important in helping states implement environmental programs and ensure public health and environmental protection for all. To that end, EJSCREEN facilitates vital citizen engagement.”
EJSCREEN can help governments, academic institutions, local communities, and other stakeholders to highlight communities with greater risk of exposure to pollution based on 8 pollution and environmental indicators, including traffic proximity, particulate matter, and proximity to superfund sites. These indicators are combined with demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community 5-year Summary Survey enabling users to identify areas with minority or low-income populations who also face potential pollution issues.
EJSCREEN’s capabilities could provide support for educational programs, grant writing, and community awareness efforts so that users can participate meaningfully in decision-making processes that impact their health and environment. While EJSCREEN is being shared publicly to improve work on environmental justice, EPA is not mandating state governments or other entities use the tool or its underlying data.
EJSCREEN does not direct EPA decisions; it does not provide a basis for identifying areas as EJ communities, and it is not an appropriate standalone tool for making a risk assessment. As a screening tool, its data may have levels of uncertainty, and is therefore incomplete in capturing the total number of pollution problems people face.
The release of EJSCREEN initiates a stakeholder engagement period over the next six months. EPA will collect feedback on the datasets and design of the tool – as well as how it could be further enhanced – and will release a revised version in 2016.
Environmental justice is defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA’s goal is to provide all people with equal access to the environmental decision-making process to maintain a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.
To access the tool, visit: http://www2.epa.gov/ejscreen.