Publication

June 11, 2015Client Alert

US EPA’s New EJSCREEN Tool Allows High Res Access to Environmental and Demographic Information

On June 10, 2015, the United States Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) released a new environmental justice mapping and screening tool called EJSCREEN. EPA describes this tool as allowing users “high resolution access to environmental and demographic information” in order to identify places with potentially higher environmental burdens and vulnerable populations. This appears to be a more robust and comprehensive version of the EJView system that EPA has operated for many years. 

With EJSCREEN, a user can type in the address of a facility and pull up detailed information regarding nearby minority and/or low-income populations, potential environmental quality issues and environmental and demographic indicators that are tied to national averages. EPA believes that EJSCREEN may be used to support educational programs, grant writing, “community awareness efforts and other purposes.” This type of data is sometimes used in citizen suit actions and comments on proposed environmental permits. There is some speculation that EPA may eventually tie this into its “Next Generation” enforcement initiative and might eventually add compliance certification, excess emission report and DMR data into the EJSCREEN program mapping feature.

EPA acknowledges that the EJSCREEN program currently has limitations in its design and that there is “substantial uncertainty” associated with the demographic and environmental estimates relied upon by the program. As such, EPA plans to initially treat this as a screening tool to highlight places that may be candidates for further review and analysis or outreach to support the EPA’s environmental justice work. There is no mandate or guidance that requires state governments to use EJSCREEN or its underlying data.

To check on a facility under EJSCREEN:

  1. Open the mapper:  http://ejscreen.epa.gov/mapper/
  2. Enter the location of a facility
  3. Under “map data,” pull down the menu and click “Sites Reporting to EPA” under the “Map Supplemental Layers” heading
  4. Check the box(es) (e.g., water dischargers, toxic releases) that represents the facility you want to view and click on it
  5. This will yield a pop-up screen that provides additional information on the facility. Clicking on the Facility URL at the bottom of the pop-up screen will take you to EPA data on that facility

To check on data available in a selected area:

  1. Open the mapper:  http://ejscreen.epa.gov/mapper/
  2. Enter the location of a facility 
  3. Click “report on selected place”
  4. Drop a pin on the site of interest, or draw a polygon around it
  5. Click on “explore reports” and it will give you a sense of where this area falls in terms of “environmental justice” criteria. You can look at it based on the state, the region or the country

You can also watch a webinar with an overview and demonstration of the tool on EPA’s YouTube channel by clicking here.

 

 

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