Sign our Petition

Incorporate Race-Based Option for the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST)

We ask that you sign this petition to ADD A RACE-BASED OPTION to the tool in order to more effectively identify areas in need of environmental justice while also creating hard datasets for research purposes, including identifying how strongly minority communities are affected by environmental factors.

When you look at the most powerful predictor of where the most industrial pollution is, race is the most potent predictor.” – Dr. Robert Bullard, environmental justice professor and pioneer.

Justice40 is one of the main components of President Joe Biden’s agenda for environmental justice, whereby 40% of federal funds related to climate and clean energy initiatives go to underserved communities. As part of their methodology for compiling data, the White House Council on Environmental Quality relies on the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) to determine which communities are eligible for receiving those prioritized funds.

While we agree that this is a tool that needs to be used, we strongly believe that there is a key element missing: race-based demographics. Because environmental disparities disproportionately affect people of color, we feel that this is an important aspect that needs to be included. By adding this option, we would not only have the option to look at specific demographics but also see the overlap between targeted low-income areas and different minority-based neighborhoods.

One of the most important reasons why CEJST is essential is because race is often an overlooked factor in environmental justice legislation. This is partly due to our current conservative-leaning Supreme Court, which the Biden Administration believes would not support race-based initiatives. However, adding race as an option rather than a necessity in the tool would soothe the concerns of the Court while also creating a more comprehensive tool overall. We would be able to collect further data while also seeing if there is a disparity between race and lower socioeconomic communities.

Additionally, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US government has previously funded the Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping (EJSCREEN) Tool that uses a nationally consistent dataset and approach for combining environmental and demographic indicators. Though at first glance the two tools appear to be the same – with almost the exact same demographic and environmental indicators – the EJSCREEN tool has notably incorporated race as one of their demographic indicators. If the government can support race in this way, why not simply extend that indicator into the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool? 

We ask that you sign this petition to ADD A RACE-BASED OPTION to the tool in order to more effectively identify areas in need of environmental justice while also creating hard datasets for research purposes, including identifying how strongly minority communities are affected by environmental factors.