The EPA on Friday rolled out a series of improvements to its mapping tool used to pinpoint disadvantaged communities suffering from legacy environmental pollution.
Broadly, the new version of the software, known as EJScreen 2.0, is designed to help government agencies make more accurate permitting, enforcement, compliance, and outreach decisions, consistent with President Joe Biden’s goal of addressing environmental justice.
Among the changes are new data showing communities with gaps in food availability, medical services, and broadband internet, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Health inequity data has also been updated to show metrics on life expectancy, asthma, and heart disease, drawing on Centers for Disease Control data.
Other tweaks a new environmental indicator on underground storage tanks, new drought and wildfire data, a new indicator on unemployment, and updated demographic data to reflect the latest U.S. Census, the EPA said.
The updates come on the same day that the White House Council on Environmental Quality unveiled its own mapping tool, the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. The CEQ map is more narrowly focused than EJScreen 2.0, primarily serving to show federal agencies which communities may qualify under Biden’s plan to steer 40% of the benefits from federal investments in climate and clean energy toward communities most affected by pollution.
The EPA said it will provide training to users on the new tool, and will make further changes to EJScreen later in the year.