Biden Admin’s Justice Screening Tool Will Help Protect Communities From Climate Change, But There’s More to Do

In response to the announcement today by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regarding the completion of their Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool for the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative, Evergreen Action Policy Lead Rachel Patterson released the following statement: 

“Deploying the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool is critical to delivering the Biden administration's environmental justice goals. The tool finalized today by CEQ will allow federal agencies to make better decisions about how to invest resources and target program benefits to the people most at risk from climate change. Health, economic, demographic, and social vulnerabilities are among the multitude of pressures that many frontline communities are already facing. Being able to craft a more accurate picture of who is at risk will allow for more equitable investments from federal agencies.

“It’s clear that the administration has taken great strides to prioritize equity and environmental justice, and version 1.0 of the screening tool is a step in the right direction. While the tool does not explicitly include race as an indicator, the addition of redlining data as an indicator and the incorporation of federally recognized Tribes is a marked improvement from the Beta version. The administration’s tool is not ideal and should continue to be improved upon, but it sets a new standard for evaluating environmental justice. Now the true work begins: ensuring that federal agencies use the tool in alignment with the Justice40 Initiative to bring benefits to underserved communities. We look forward to continued engagement with the Biden administration as they work to implement and improve this tool."

Evergreen had previously called for an equity and environmental justice mapping tool in The Evergreen Action Plan. In addition, Evergreen has supported calls from environmental justice leaders and communities to improve upon Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool by including race, cumulative impacts, and other critical indicators. You can read our Policy Lead, Rachel Patterson’s recommendations in her Grist op-ed, here.