Environmental Justice in the USA
Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (EJSCREEN)
By Mari Galloway, 2015-10-05
Okanagan Valley - Last Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules to reduce toxic air pollution across the U.S by approximately 5,200 Tons per year. As part of the new rules, petroleum refineries will be required to monitor and publicize levels of benzene and other dangerous pollutants along "fence lines" where the substances enter communities. The new rule will require 12 to 24 monitors at each distillery and is being praised as a turning point for the EPA and its record on environmental justice.

The ruling specifically mentioned the impacts of this rulemaking on "environmental justice populations". It noted that vulnerable groups living in neighbouring communities who are most affected by the pollutants will benefit both by the emissions reductions and the ability to monitor level of pollutants being released by nearby refineries. The U.S. currently has a total of 140 petroleum refineries located across the country.

"These updated Clean Air Act standards will lower the cancer risk from petroleum refineries for more than 1.4 million people and are a substantial step forward in EPA's work to protect the health of vulnerable communities located near these facilities," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

This new regulation comes just a few weeks after the EPA unveiled its Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (EJSCREEN). The EJSCREEN is uses both demographic and environmental indicators to create an Environmental Justice Index. This index shows areas which are likely to be most affected by multiple social and environmental vulnerabilities. It demonstrates another step forward that the EPA has taken in recent weeks to battle environmental injustice.
"EJSCREEN has been a valuable resource for EPA to advance our commitment to protect Americans most vulnerable to pollution. I'm excited to share this tool with the public to broaden its impact, build transparency, and foster collaboration with partners working to achieve environmental justice," said Gina McCarthy.

To find out more about the EJSCREEN, please click here.
Image: © tunedin