Environmental justice leaders, members of Congress, and advocates applauded version 1.0 of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST). After extensive feedback on the beta tool, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released version 1.0 of the CEJST last week. The updated tool displays the lands of Federally Recognized Tribes, including Alaska Native Villages, uses an updated methodology, and incorporates additional datasets including on climate risks, transportation inequities, historic redlining, and legacy pollution.

Federal agencies will use the CEJST to help identify communities that will benefit from President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which seeks to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of investments in climate, clean energy, and related areas to disadvantaged communities that are overburdened by pollution and underserved by infrastructure and other basic services. 

See below for what they’re saying:

Delaware Senator Tom Carper, Chair, U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works: “The Biden Administration’s new Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool will help ensure that disadvantaged communities across our nation benefit from our historic climate, clean water and other infrastructure investments. Great work by @WHCEQ!” [Tweet, 11/22/22]

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Co-Chair, U.S. Senate Environmental Justice Caucus: “I celebrate the release of Version 1.0 of the Climate & Economic Justice Screening Tool. This is a critical step forward in implementing President Biden’s Justice40 initiative to ensure that the United States is delivering meaningful federal investments to historically disadvantaged communities of color and low-income communities. I applaud CEQ for incorporating important feedback from environmental justice communities to strengthen this tool from its beta version, and I look forward to working with this Administration to continue improving this tool and advancing our shared environmental justice priorities, including by incorporating consideration of cumulative impacts.” [Statement, 11/22/22]

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, Chair of Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety: “I applaud the Biden administration for responding to community and congressional feedback and issuing a stronger environmental justice screening tool, which will be critical to understanding and addressing the environmental injustices—from air pollution to water contamination—that Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities have had to disproportionately shoulder for years on end. Environmental justice communities deserve a tool that reflects their lived experiences and can be used to deliver the reparatory resources that they have historically been denied, including resources from the Inflation Reduction Act. I will continue to work with the Biden administration and environmental justice advocates to ensure that the Justice40 initiative is effective, equitable, and transparent across all government agencies.” [Statement, 11/22/22]

Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva, Chair, House Committee on Natural Resources: “The Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool is critical to delivering on President Biden’s environmental justice goals. I appreciate the process and level of care and effort that went into developing the updated tool—it’s a sign that the White House, led by CEQ, listened to communities and incorporated their recommendations, including adding new datasets and the lands of Federally Recognized Tribes. With this tool, the administration has made an important step in our shared pursuit of equity and justice for all, and I will continue to work with the administration and my Congressional colleagues to ensure that federal investments reach communities that have long been overburdened by pollution and underinvestment.” [Statement, 11/22/22]

New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone, Chair, House Energy and Commerce Committee: “This new tool is the first, critical step toward making sure the investments we made in the #BipartisanInfrastructureLaw and #InflationReductionAct make it to the communities who need them most. Great to see it in action.” [Tweet, 11/23/22]

New York Congressman Paul Tonko, Chair, Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change: “The CEJST is a foundational component of achieving President Biden’s Justice40 goals. By incorporating feedback from so many community groups and experts, this version is furthering our ability to use the best available data to promote more just and equitable environmental outcomes. I am grateful for all the work of Chair Mallory, the CEQ staff, and the members of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council for their tireless efforts to turn President Biden’s environmental justice promises into concrete actions that will improve the public health and the environment for so many communities across the country.” [Statement, 11/22/22]

Richard Moore, Co-Chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and Co-Coordinator of Los Jardines Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico: “I’m pleased to see the recommendations of our White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council reflected in the updated Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. The changes show that CEQ heard and incorporated communities’ feedback, including the voices of the people that Los Jardines Institute serves here in New Mexico who deserve clean air and water and uncontaminated soil. There is more work to do, but this is a positive step in the Administration’s work to advance environmental justice for all.” [Statement, 11/22/22]

Peggy Shepard, Co-Chair, White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and Co-Founder and Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice: “The Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) can be important to advancing Justice40, so I anticipate that the public and the advocacy community will be motivated to focus on how it can be employed to identify and prioritize environmental justice communities.” [Statement, 11/22/22]

Catherine Coleman Flowers, Vice Chair, White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and Founder, Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice: “The newly updated CEJST is a major accomplishment in amplifying the struggles of overburdened and undeserved communities that have traditionally been overlooked. As someone who has fought for equitable access to water infrastructure across America, I’m grateful for a tool that outlines a path for federal agencies to deliver resources to those who need them most. Together we can build a clean, equitable future.” [Statement, 11/22/22]

Dr. Kyle Whyte, Co-Chair, WHEJAC Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Nations Workgroup, and George Willis Pack Professor, University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability: “After many months of national conversation and much hard work, today’s publication of the CEJST is a critical step toward making federal investments count for environmental justice – the very spirit of the Justice40 Initiative. Community-serving organizations, Tribal governments, federal agencies, and diverse others are now in the position to actively use the tool, honing it through application to advance equity, justice, and empowerment for the people they serve.” [Statement, 11/22/22]

Tom Cormons, White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council Member, and Executive Director, Appalachian Voices in Charlottesville, Virginia: “Legacy pollution is a prevailing problem in Appalachia. In response to outreach and engagement with communities, the Council on Environmental Quality updated the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool and added abandoned mines to better reflect the reality on the ground. This will help ensure that historic levels of federal funding for land reclamation and clean energy development get to the right places, creating economic opportunity where it is most needed.” [Statement, 11/22/22]

Coming Clean and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform: “We applaud the CEQ for committing to improve the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to more accurately identify the communities who are most in need of the public health, economic, and environmental investment benefits that were promised by the Justice40 Initiative… These improvements to the CEJST directly incorporate several of our recommendations, and reassure us that the CEQ is laying out a more transparent, iterative and democratic process for identifying communities eligible for Justice40 benefits. We thank the CEQ for valuing and meaningfully responding to the feedback of communities who experience disproportionate health burdens due to chemical exposure, proximity to industry, and discriminatory underinvestment in their neighborhoods.” [Statement, 11/22/22]

Hispanic Access Foundation: “Thank you @CEQ and Chairwoman @BrendaMallory46 for considering our comments and creating a tool that will help amplify our work in #envirojustice. This tool will help bring more awareness to nature deprived communities and help us as we try to close the #NatureGap!” [Tweet, 11/22/22]

Diane Regas, President and CEO, Trust for Public Land: “In every state across the country, too many children are growing up without access to parks, nature, or the outdoors. This ‘outdoor equity gap’ exists in urban centers, rural towns and on Tribal lands, and it is especially acute in communities of color. That’s why it is essential we invest in communities, and bring the powerful mental, physical and emotional health benefits of the outdoors to every person in every part of our country. The CEJST will ensure federal climate and energy investments can have the most impact for those most in need. Neighborhood parks and green space reduce flooding, absorb air pollution, and filter storm water. Green, shady parks also protect people from rising temperatures, and can reduce the deadly urban heat island effect.” [Statement, 11/22/22]

Joel Pannell, Vice President of Urban Forest Policy, American Forests: “It’s a new era for CEQ — one where Tree Equity is federally recognized for its impacts on heat islands, air quality and community health. The CEJST introduces a new data indicator to identify nature-deprived communities, marking the first time the federal government has factored in access to trees and green spaces as part of the holistic health of communities and as a critical factor in advancing environmental justice. With extreme heat and flooding gripping our cities, this much-needed tool is essential to equitably distribute the historic forest-climate funding passed by Congress and will support underserved communities seeking resources and funding to reforest their communities, create new family-sustaining jobs in urban forestry, and bolster local economies. This interactive online resource goes hand-in-hand with American Forests’ Tree Equity Score, helping communities assess the health and climate impacts of insufficient tree canopy and facilitate data-driven decision making to reverse these trends. The CEJST is a strong step forward for CEQ, Tree Equity and environmental justice. We commend the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to Justice40 and for advancing tools that will equitably fund and empower communities to restore America’s urban and community tree canopy.” [Statement, 11/22/22]

Appalachian Voices: “We’re proud of our contribution to the new #Justice40 map that identifies the communities most in need of federal clean energy and sustainable development investments. By listening, the Biden Administration has built an innovative and evolving tool.” [Tweet, 11/22/22]

Sierra Club: “.@POTUS’ updated Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool is a positive step toward addressing environmental injustices, and we’ll keep working alongside environmental justice advocates to refine the tool & equitably advance #Justice40.” [Tweet, 11/23/22]

Abre’ Conner, Director, Environmental and Climate Justice, NAACP: “The new Climate and Economic Justice Screening tool is available. It has new capabilities like the ability to overlap race with existing data. It also includes redlining data points. Accessibility & transparency re data are vital for environmental justice.” [Tweet, 11/22/22]

League of Conservation Voters: “This afternoon the White House released a revised Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, which is aimed at ensuring federal climate benefits go to the communities that need them most. This new version is an important step forward, and we’re glad the Biden Administration took the feedback of environmental justice leaders and advocates to ensure the CEJST prioritizes the most heavily impacted communities. But this process isn’t over — we look forward to continuing to work with our environmental justice allies and the administration to refine this critical tool.” [Tweet, 11/22/22]

Chispa Maryland: “This tool will help to ensure that benefits of Federal programs are reaching communities that are overburdened by pollution and historic underinvestment.” [Tweet, 11/23/22]

CAP Energy Policy: “Today the@WhiteHouse launched version 1.0 of the Climate & Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST), an essential step in implementing @POTUS’ #Justice40 Initiative. Following the beta release last spring, the CEJST version 1.0 tool works to ensure that the benefits of Federal programs are reaching communities that are overburdened by pollution & historic underinvestment. Several updates included in CEJST version 1.0 were recommended by the @WhiteHouse Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC), including adding historic redlining data, identifying Tribal Nations, & enhancing data on climate change vulnerability.” [Tweet, 11/22/22]

Basil Seggos, Commissioner, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation: “Big #environmentaljustice news from @POTUS with the release of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool as part of the #Justice40 initiative. Great EJ progress at the federal level and in states like New York. Thank you @alizaidi46 @BrendaMallory46.” [Tweet, 11/22/22]


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