After years of advocacy by EJ community members, CalEPA directed the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to create the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool (CalEnviroScreen) to identify the areas of our state that are most impacted by pollution, poverty, and poor health. California is the first state in the nation to develop and adopt a strong cumulative impacts tool that can advance environmental justice goals in state policies and programs.
CalEnviroScreen 3.0 is the most recent version of the tool, which uses 20 different indicators to provide a statewide ranking of all 8,000 Census tracts in California. The higher the total score, the higher the cumulative or combined burdens affecting a neighborhood. CalEnviroScreen breaks down silos by recognizing that communities do not experience pollution by just one source, showing how population-related vulnerabilities such as poverty and poor health can make residents even more susceptible to the negative effects of toxic emissions.
Green Zones are based upon the idea that everyone can breathe easier and live healthier lives when greater resources and stricter regulations are implemented in communities. In the past, however, it has been difficult for both policymakers and advocates to define and pinpoint where these overburdened communities are located. CalEnviroScreen 3.0 provides the state of California with one clear, credible, and scientific methodology to identify disadvantaged or environmental justice communities for further interventions or investments.
CalEnviroScreen remains an incredibly important tool and resource for many environmental justice communities. It has strengthened our ability to direct critical funding and protections to those areas that are most impacted by both pollution and socioeconomic vulnerabilities. At the local level, it has also allowed communities to develop visionary Green Zone policies, resources, and programs that can positively transform and uplift neighborhoods. The tool has also given communities more leverage and a voice in the policies and land use decisions that impact their health.
The CalEnviroScreen 3.0 maps below reveal the neighborhoods where each of our Green Zones projects are located. As you can see, the vast majority of Green Zones are found in Census tracts that experience high cumulative burdens.
More about CalEnviroScreen 3.0 can be found on OEHHA’s website: https://oehha.ca.gov/calenviroscreen/report/calenviroscreen-30
Read CEJA’s new report, CalEnviroScreen: A Critical Tool for Achieving Environmental Justice in California, at: www.caleja.org/CESreport