March 17, 2022
EJSCREEN 2.0 and CEJST support geographical evaluation of environmental & climate burdens
On February 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a long-awaited update of its environmental justice mapping tool "EJSCREEN." Like the previous version, EJSCREEN 2.0 is a publicly available portal that allows users to explore national environmental and demographic geospatial data down to the census tract level. Updates to the new version of EJSCREEN are intended to align with the goals in EPA's recent Fiscal Year 2022 — 2026 Draft Strategic Plan, which include greater focus on climate change, environmental justice, and compliance with civil rights requirements.
Release of the updated EJSCREEN tool coincides with the White House Council on Environmental Quality's release of its Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST). CEJST is a mapping tool for identifying disadvantaged communities to help allocate federal funding to certain programs, particularly the Justice40 Initiative. Communities are identified as disadvantaged if their census tract is above a specified threshold for one of eight environmental or climate indicators and above a threshold for one or more socioeconomic indicators. CEJST is currently in beta testing and accepting public feedback on the methodology and datasets used until April 25.
Spatial tools such as EJSCREEN 2.0 and CEJST can help both public and private sector stakeholders understand the spatial distribution of environmental burdens and health inequities and their overlap with business operations.
In the coming years, public agencies will likely rely more on geospatial data mapping tools like these to help guide funding and environmental mitigation efforts.
Identification of populations experiencing disproportionate pollution and climate burdens using EJSCREEN or CEJST may increase the likelihood of regulatory actions or litigation. However, businesses can also use these same tools to proactively identify at-risk sites, support planning for new sites, or facilitate outreach to disadvantaged communities. Any such actions will require further evaluation of the data underlying EJSCREEN or CEJST, as well as consideration of additional data and the unique circumstances of each affected community.
How Exponent Can Help
As companies rapidly pivot operations and corporate culture to meet environmental, social, and governance objectives in response to changing climate conditions, changing stakeholder expectations, and evolving technology, data analytics are integral to measuring and documenting the interaction between business operations and the community and environment in which those operations occur. Exponent environmental, health, and data scientists have decades of experience with spatial data analysis and interpretation and can assist clients in evaluating and understanding data to characterize communities in their operational areas.