Washington, D.C. February 4, 2021 — California’s environmental justice screening tool, CalEnviroScreen, can serve as a model for the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to identify and target benefits to disadvantaged communities, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress.

The executive order that President Joe Biden signed last week calls for the development of an environmental justice screening tool that will build upon the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s existing tool, known as EJSCREEN. That tool will identify disadvantaged communities where federal investments and benefits can be targeted and inform equitable decision-making across the federal government.

It will also create a new Justice40 Initiative that seeks to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities. The day after the executive order was signed, congressional Democrats introduced the Environmental Justice Mapping and Data Collection Act of 2021, a measure to help the government identify communities most at risk of environmental injustices. The report argues that CalEnviroScreen offers several lessons that can help guide the update of EJSCREEN and the implementation of this legislation. These include:

  • Applying the right scale for analysis of community boundaries, which includes using census data
  • Producing a cumulative score that can be used to provide a community assessment and comparison
  • Establishing a percentile threshold for determining which communities are designated as disadvantaged
  • Establishing minimum thresholds for investment in disadvantaged communities

Read the report: “Mapping Environmental Justice in the Biden-Harris Administration” by Aimee Barnes, Angela Luh, and Matt Gobin