The tool, which Senator Markey secured funding for in the Inflation Reduction Act, was updated and strengthened following his and stakeholders’ feedback
Washington (November 22, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, released the following statement today after the Biden administration announced its launch of the enhanced 1.0 version of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST), a tool that will continue to support federal agencies in identifying frontline environmental justice communities that stand to benefit most from President Biden’s landmark Justice40 Initiative – ensuring no less than 40% of the overall impact of federal investments in climate action and clean energy reach and benefit frontline communities.
“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 disproportionally shoulder for years on end,” said Senator Markey. “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.”
Senator Markey has long worked to ensure investments in climate action and clean energy reach frontline communities most affected by the climate crisis:
- In September, Senator Markey and his colleagues Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), and Cori Bush (MO-01) led their colleagues in a letter to the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Office of Management and Budget, and Office of Domestic Climate Policy urging them to strengthen the Administration’s implementation of the Justice40 Initiative and to make clear that the plan’s 40% target “is a funding floor, not a ceiling.”
- In August, Senate Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $32.5 million in funding Senator Markey and Congresswoman Bush fought to secure for the development and dissemination of an environmental justice mapping and screening tool at CEQ.
- In April, Senator Markey led five Senate colleagues in writing CEQ with a request to strengthen the beta version of tool with several recommendations, which included adopting more metrics that indicate the interrelation between race and climate vulnerability, transit, clean energy, energy efficiency, and housing; developing a plan for public engagement and Tribal nation consultation that includes a way to factor community feedback into the tool; and developing a methodology for cumulative environmental justice scores that look at the aggregated hardships within a community. Many of these recommendations were directly built into the 1.0 version of the CEJST, and CEQ has committed to continuing to work with communities and experts to develop a methodology for cumulative impacts for subsequent versions of the tools.
- In February, Senator Markey and Congresswoman Bush led their colleagues in sending a letter to CEQ urging for the immediate release of the beta version of the tool.
- In January 2021, Senator Markey and Congresswoman Bush introduced the Environmental Justice Mapping and Data Collect Act of 2021, creating and authorizing funds for a system to identify diverse factors – demographics, socioeconomic conditions, public health concerns, environmental burdens – related to climate justice to gather high-quality data that connects and uplifts disadvantaged communities with comprehensive policy outcomes.