CEQ Releases Version 1.0 of Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool

On November 22, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) launched version 1.0 of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST). The tool includes an interactive map and uses indicators of burdens in eight categories: climate change, energy, health, housing, legacy pollution, transportation, water and wastewater, and workforce development. The screening tool is meant to help federal agencies identify disadvantaged communities at the census tract level that could benefit from the Biden Administration’s Justice40 initiative. The Justice40 initiative aims to provide 40% of the overall benefits of federal investments in climate, clean energy, and related areas to disadvantaged communities.

The CJEST incorporates dozens of metrics, including proximity to wastewater discharge, to help inform agency decisions. The tool utilizes publicly available, nationally consistent datasets, such as the National Risk Index, the American Community Survey, and the Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) Model from 2020 as compiled by EPA’s EJSCREEN. A beta version of the tool was released in February of this year and the public was encouraged to provide feedback. ASDWA provided comments to CEQ stating the association’s appreciation for CEQ’s work but underscored the need to ensure that federal agency activities are streamlined and avoid duplicative efforts. CEQ’s November 22 announcement outlines the changes made to the tool after reviewing public input.