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EPA Launches New Environmental Justice Screening Tool

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 10.30.04 AM

The Environmental Protection Agency launched a new online tool today that can show you if environmental justice in your neighborhood is out of whack.

It's called 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," according to the agency.

"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."

The enviromapper lets you select an area by drawing on a map, entering latitude and longitude, picking a designated census area or searching by city. Reports on the selected area include demographics and things such as ozone, lead paint, and respiratory and cancer risks.

"EJSCREEN provides essential information to anyone seeking greater visibility and awareness about the impacts of pollution in American communities,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement. “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."

The agency said the tool "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."

"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."

The agency said it "does not direct EPA decisions," and they'll be gathering feedback on the tool to release a revised version in 2016.

The EPA defines environmental justice 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."