Nationally Consistent Environmental Justice Screening Approaches - NEJAC Recommendations to EPA - May 2010

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Fri, 01/21/2011 - 10:48.

Protocol for use of EJSEAT in circumstances in which it will have an impact on current and future allocation of resources
Protocol for use of EJSEAT in circumstances in which it will have
an impact on current and future allocation of resources

Nationally Consistent Environmental Justice Screening Approaches - text included below, without Appendices - download full 5 MB /PDF Report here

A Report of Advice and Recommendations of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council - A Federal Advisory Committee to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - MAY 2010

May 7, 2010
Lisa P. Jackson
Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (MC1101A)
Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Administrator Jackson:

The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) is pleased to submit the report, Nationally Consistent Environmental Justice Screening Approaches (April 2010), for the Agency’s review. This report discusses screening approaches through the lens of the Agency’s Environmental Justice Strategic Enforcement Tool (EJSEAT), in particular, and how such approaches might better identify areas of concern. This report also discusses the principles that should guide the use of such screening approaches, those instances where a nationally consistent screening approach might be appropriate, and those instances where such an approach might be inappropriate or misused.

With the recommendations outlined in this report, the Council took the position that EJSEAT, and other tools that may be developed to identify priority areas with potential environmental justice concerns, should:

  • Accurately identify potential areas of concern, with assurance that communities of color and low income communities potentially adversely impacted will be identified;
  • Be able to assess temporal changes within those areas;
  • Be able to make national comparisons with similar geographical or political units (e.g., among state and tribal governments) based upon uniform criteria;
  • Be transparent, and readily understandable by the public and policy makers;
  • Be scientifically sound and defensible for the purpose for which it is being used;
  • Be practical, based on available data, and include the amount of data necessary for its intended application;
  • Be useful to the public and policy makers (and correspondingly, avoid misuse)
  • Articulate strengths and weaknesses of EJSEAT’s use for particular purposes.

Key recommendations focus on technical and policy areas, and include both items for immediate action and long-term goals. In particular, the NEJAC recommends that:

  • EPA should carefully delineate how EJSEAT and similar tools are to be used. For example, EPA should avoid using the tool in an exclusionary manner where failure to be prioritized in EJSEAT results in a community not being treated as an environmental justice community.
  • EPA should undertake a review of the EJSEAT variables to avoid undue weighting of elements, including reexamining age variables and performing sensitivity analyses of each EJSEAT variable to determine the degree to which each variable may influence scoring.
  • EPA should expand the environmental indicators used in EJSEAT to include data on soil contamination, surface and groundwater contamination, and nuisance and non-point  sourc pollution.
  • EPA should consider broadly the possible uses of EJSEAT and be prepared to address unintended consequences. EPA should create an EJSEAT training program to prevent misunderstanding and misuse of tools like EJSEAT.
  • EPA should ensure that, where EJSEAT is used prospectively, it must be part of a community specific (although consistently employed) process to identify areas not captured by the elements of EJSEAT.
  • EPA should consult with Native American representatives to develop mechanisms to assure appropriate treatment within the context of the policy, permitting, enforcement, and other decisions the use of EJSEAT will affect.
  • EPA should evaluate how EJSEAT might be configured to allow comparisons over time.

On behalf of the NEJAC, I want to express our appreciation for the opportunity to provide meaningful recommendations on these important issues, and look forward to working with the Agency in the future.

Respectfully,
John Ridgway,
Acting Vice Chair

cc:     NEJAC Members
        Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator, EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA)
        Lisa Garcia, Special Advisor to the Administrator for Environmental Justice
        Catherine McCabe, Deputy Assistant Administrator, EPA OECA
        Charles Lee, Director, Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ)
        Victoria Robinson, NEJAC DFO

TABLE OF CONTENTS

BACKGROUND ............................................................................................................................ 1

  I.   CHARGE TO THE NEJAC...................................................................................................... 1

  II.  INITIAL PRINCIPLES.............................................................................................................. 2

         PROCESS .......................................................................................................................... 2

  III.
         OVERVIEW OF EJSEAT ................................................................................................... 3

  IV.
  V.   REVIEW, EVALUATION, AND RECOMMENDATIONS............................................................... 5

SPECIFIC FINDINGS.................................................................................................................... 5

CONCLUSIONS........................................................................................................................... 15

SUMMARY OF KEY RECOMMENDATIONS......................................................................... 18

APPENDICES ............................................................................................................................. 23

APPROACHES

A Report of Advice and Recommendations of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council

BACKGROUND

The Environmental Justice Strategic Enforcement Screening Tool (EJSEAT) was created by EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) to serve as “a consistent methodology that would enable OECA to identify communities or areas experiencing disproportionate environmental and public health burdens for the purposes of enhancing and focusing OECA’s enforcement and compliance activities in those areas.” 1 OECA’s desire to improve consistency in EPA’s environmental justice program is commendable. For some regulatory functions, there should be consistent logic in approaching environmental justice concerns. For example, it is important to have a way of tracking progress in allocating resources to environmental justice areas in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of a national environmental justice program.

In addition it is helpful to clearly articulate the critical factors to be included when screening for areas of concern so that communities know the standards under which they can seek agency support and assistance. However, it is equally important to recognize that for some purposes, a consistent national methodology strictly applied is not appropriate and screening factors must be supplemented by local information. This report discusses screening approaches through the lens of EJSEAT, in particular, and how such approaches might better identify areas of concern. This report also discusses the principles that should guide the use of a screening approach, those instances where a nationally consistent screening approach might be appropriate, and those instances where such an approach might be inappropriate or misused.

I.        Charge to the NEJAC

The NEJAC initially was charged to gain a basic understanding of EJSEAT and to
identify policy-level issues, concerns, potential benefits and uses of EJSEAT. This identification
process took place within the context of briefings on EPA’s developing programmatic
approaches to environmental justice. On December 14, 2007, the NEJAC forwarded to the
Assistant Administrator of OECA a letter describing its approach to evaluating EJSEAT, and
providing quick feedback about issues and concerns flagged at the outset. The letter also was
forwarded to EPA staff working on EJSEAT for their consideration as they continued to refine
the approach. Then Assistant Administrator of OECA, Granta Nakayama, requested advice and
recommendations from the NEJAC to improve EJSEAT’s comprehensiveness, efficacy and
accuracy. On the basis of these initially identified issues and the request of the Assistant
Administrator, the NEJAC began its consideration of the nature of EJSEAT and its potential
uses, and developed a list of initial principles that should shape development of such a tool.

As part of the advisory process, the NEJAC convened a Work Group consisting of
members of the Council, outside Stakeholders and members of academia to better analysis its
assessment approach. The NEJAC in collaboration with the Work Group gained a deeper
understanding of how EJSEAT works and how it appears to operate in early field testing by the
EPA Regions. The Council received briefings from EPA staff. OECA in particular answered
follow-up questions from Council members and provided EJSEAT data elements, definitions and
sources. The Council also requested reports from several Regions performing this testing. It
received an informal briefing from one of the regions, but not the final results of any particular
field testing. This information, along with original research performed by Work Group
members, formed the basis of the recommendations offered in this report.

II.       Initial Principles

At the initial Council meeting following the initial report to the Assistant Administrator,
consensus was reached on a number of criteria against which a screening approach would be
measured. As general principles, the position was taken that EJSEAT and other tools that may
be developed to identify priority areas with potential environmental justice concerns should:

  • Accurately identify potential areas of concern, with assurance that communities of color and low income communities potentially adversely impacted will be identified;
  • Be able to assess temporal changes within those areas;
  • Be able to make national comparisons with similar geographical or political units (e.g., among state and tribal governments) based upon uniform criteria;
  • Be transparent, and readily understandable by the public and policy makers;
  • Be scientifically sound and defensible for the purpose for which it is being used;
  • Be practical, based on available data, and include the amount of data necessary for its intended application;
  • Be useful to the public and policy makers (and correspondingly, avoid misuse); and
  • Articulate strengths and weaknesses of EJSEAT’s use for particular purposes.

As the work of the Council proceeded, these principles were tested against our evolving
assessment of EJSEAT and form the central premises of the conclusions in this report.

III.      Process

The NEJAC, through its work group, received extensive briefings from staff working on
EJSEAT at EPA Headquarters and the Regions in the course of two in-person meetings and
numerous conference calls, including a briefing on early phases of EJSEAT testing in Region
III.  Four members of the Council’s work group were academic experts of national prominence
about these kinds of evaluative approaches, and the results of their testing of the tool informed
and greatly enriched our work. The Council felt strongly that it would need to understand the
workings of EJSEAT in considerable detail in order to provide useful advice on both the
elements of EJSEAT and more broadly, the principles that should inform the use of EJSEAT or
any other methodology for uses ranging from national programmatic to site specific applications.

Three members of the Council’s work group, Professors Paul Mohai, Juliana Maantay
and Jim Sadd, used their extensive experience with environmental justice communities and the
kind of methodology EJSEAT represents to develop a presentation for the NEJAC. Thus, these
work group members demonstrated circumstances in which EJSEAT would or would not work,
and the reasons for the difference in the usefulness of EJSEAT for certain applications. 4 For
example, Professor Sadd, based upon his preliminary environmental justice screening work with
Professors Manuel Pastor and Rachel Morello-Frosch, indicated that, in the context of southern
California, EJSEAT’s results are fairly similar. According to Mr. Mohai and Ms. Maantay,
however, the results were at a variance with conditions they have found in the geographic areas
that they have extensively studied (Michigan and New York). This suggests that although the
results with southern California were similar, this does not necessarily mean that there is
sufficient reliability to the EJSEAT method overall.

Along with the discussion regarding the consistency with alternative methodologies, the
NEJAC began looking at the various indicators used by EJSEAT and their relative weight in
arriving at an overall score. This discussion was rich and textured, informed by the Council’s
empirical researchers, state environmental regulators, and community members who provided
valuable insight as to how the EJSEAT approach may capture—or in some instances fail to
capture—the environmental conditions that their communities are experiencing. The discussion
of the EJSEAT approach below details some of these deliberations.

IV.      Overview of EJSEAT

EJSEAT is composed of 18 individual variables or indicators. Values for the 18
indicators for each of the approximately 65,000 census tracts in the U.S. have been derived from
a variety of publicly available databases. The 18 indicators furthermore have been grouped into
four categories, or components, designated as “demographic,” “environmental,” “health,” and
“compliance.” There are six indicators in the demographic component, six in the environmental
component, two in the health component, and four in the compliance component.
Demographic indicators are derived from the 2000 census and include:

  • percent persons below the poverty line
  • percent persons over 25 not having high school diplomas,
  • percent persons under 5 years old
  • percent persons over 64 years old
  • percent households linguistically isolated
  • percent persons who are minorities (African American, Hispanic, 6 Native American, or Asian/Pacific Islanders)

Environmental indicators are derived from the National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) and the Risk Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) databases and include:

  • NATA cancer risk
  • NATA neurological and respiratory hazard index
  • NATA non-cancer diesel particulate matter (PM)
  • particulate matter (PM)-2.5 concentration
  • ozone concentration (8-hour average)
  • averaged RSEI risk-related scores for all federally permitted industrial facilities in the census tract

Health indicators, obtained at the county-level for all states and tribal territories in the U.S. but imputed to individual tracts within their respective counties, include:

  • rate of infant mortality
  • rate of low birth weight

Compliance indicators have been obtained from a variety of databases and include:

  • a number of facility registry system (FRS) facilities per square mile
  • a computed measure of inspections
  • a computed measure of violations
  • a computed measure of formal actions

All the respective indicators within a category are combined into a component score.
Before combining, each indicator in the category is first normalized by setting the lowest value
of the indicator to zero, the highest value to 100, and all remaining values proportionally in
between these two end points. The normalized scores for each of the variables within each of the
components are then averaged to produce a component score. Each of the four component
scores are themselves normalized, again by setting the lowest component score to zero and the
highest component score to 100. The four normalized component scores are then averaged to
produce a raw EJSEAT score. The raw EJSEAT score is again normalized in the same way as
described above. The normalized EJSEAT scores form the basis of ranking census tracts for
their environmental justice potential.

An important feature of the EJSEAT normalizing procedure is that it is conducted on a
state by state basis rather than for the U.S. as a whole. The highest and lowest values for each of
the variables may, and in fact are likely to, differ from state to state. Apparently, EPA’s reason
for this is because the Agency believes the State (or tribal) government to be the appropriate
geographic unit of analysis, as federal programs often are delegated to state and tribal
governments for implementation. However, this method precludes direct comparisons of
normalized values across state and tribal territories. For example, a normalized minority
percentage of 100 in one state may mean that the largest proportion of minorities in a census tract
in that state is 35 percent, while in another state a normalized minority percentage of 100 may
mean that the largest proportion of minorities in a tract is 70 percent. In addition to difficulties
of making cross-state comparison, the normalizing procedure is also likely to cause difficulties in
making comparisons across time as it is likely that EPA will renormalize values with the
anticipated availability of newer datasets, e.g., when the 2010 Census data become available.

V.       Review, Evaluation, and Recommendations
The EPA seeks a procedure that will help identify areas within the U.S. where vulnerable
populations live and where environmental burdens are concentrated. That EPA is employing
publicly available databases, promotes transparency of the EJSEAT ranking system and helps to
provide a systematic rather than ad hoc approach to identifying potential environmental justice
areas. Because the data are publicly available, it should ideally allow multiple stakeholders to
identify strengths and weaknesses of the EJSEAT method. The NEJAC anticipates that with
further input from other stakeholders, EJSEAT will continue to evolve and improve as a coarse
screening tool. Below, this report discusses in further detail the NEJAC’s independent
evaluation of EJSEAT and makes recommendations for its improvement.

SPECIFIC FINDINGS

(1) A consistent national approach is needed for some applications: A national screening tool
should provide consistency and some technical rigor to EPA’s initial screening to identify
potentially high impact areas and prioritize areas needing assistance from the agency.

(2) EJSEAT is more appropriate in evaluating the past than charting the way for the future:
EJSEAT would need to be used differently where it is an identification of environmental justice
areas for prospective action as opposed to a retrospective screen to determine whether, for
example, past enforcement efforts or past grants had, over time, been focused on environmental
justice areas. For these retrospective-oriented reviews, EJSEAT is a good way to see if priority
environmental justice areas received relatively more or fewer inspections, faster or slower
cleanup, or more or fewer small grants or Brownfields grants. This assessment can offer insights
into whether the existing EPA programs are working to alleviate disparities in environmental
justice areas, or if more effort or different approaches are needed. Prospectively, EJSEAT also
can be useful in a limited way, for example within the NEPA context by showing a rough
snapshot of current conditions, as part of a broader analysis being undertaken to assess the
environmental impact of a future project involving federal agency action.

When it comes to allocating future resources, however, EJSEAT by itself can only be a
very coarse screen, identifying areas of concern, rather than a tool to specifically categorize a
community as being “an environmental justice community” or “not an environmental justice
community.” This is because, as discussed in finding 3 below, EJSEAT is not able to capture
sufficient information to assure comprehensive identification of all environmental justice
communities. In this report, the phrase “areas of concern” is used to help convey the point that
in many instances, EJSEAT cannot pinpoint environmental justice communities that are fairly
small geographically, such as neighborhoods or areas within a metropolitan area, or rural
communities. Because of this limitation, if the agency undertakes to compile an annual EJSEAT
priority list, such a list must be supplemented by additional analysis (such as local land use data
where available) and public comment in order to identify sites where communities have
significant environmental justice concerns that the EJSEAT methodology does not sufficiently
recognize. The nature of this public comment is further described in Part VII (1) below. This
public comment and response approach responds to the principle that, ideally, a more
comprehensive environmental justice analysis should be readily understood and accurately
identify communities of concern by adding, where appropriate, additional procedures and data to
cure the weaknesses of a coarse screening tool like EJSEAT. This particularly holds true for
small rural communities, Native American areas, and areas burdened by many unpermitted
facilities and other land use activities not captured by the indicators used in EJSEAT.

(3) EJSEAT data has specific limits: Federally-collected data that are available at the national
level—and therefore EJSEAT as a tool—do not adequately capture a number of activities within
and conditions endemic to environmental justice areas:

  •     It omits significant sources of environmental justice concern, primarily impacts from
        facilities and land use activity that occurs without air permits required under the federal
        programs or activities exempt from TRI reporting. Primarily EJSEAT includes air toxics
        data submitted pursuant to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporters and under the
        National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA). (The limits of TRI data is explained in connection
        with the expanded discussion of RSEITOT in Part VI (3) below)For the compliance indicator
        only (not included in the characterization of “environment”), EJSEAT also includes
        the existence of RCRA hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities, major
        facilities with federal reporting obligations under the Clean Air Act, major facilities reporting
        under the Clean Water Act, and facilities appearing in the federal Permit Compliance
        System over the past 5 years. However, activities that EJSEAT does not consider include,
        for example: Clean Air and Clean Water Act minor facilities, Clean Water Act “nonpoint”
        sources, Clean Air Act mobile sources, small quantity generators of hazardous waste,
        underground tanks, closed or abandoned facilities and remedial sites, significant releases of
        toxic air contaminates that are not reported under TRI (because the facility is exempt, or
        because the chemicals are not listed or are released in amounts that do not trigger reporting
        requirements), and facilities exempt from permits because of small size, grandfathering,
        exempted status (e.g., materials that are exempt because they are recycled or are one of the
        so-called “Bevill wastes” under RCRA). EJSEAT also omits land use activities that can
        significantly affect environmental conditions but are not captured within a national data base,
        such as traffic patterns (e.g., heavy truck traffic near landfills) and agricultural activities (e.g.
        pesticide drift). EPA should make clear in its communications which potential sources of
        pollution are included in EJSEAT and which are not. It is important to remember that
        EJSEAT contains a wide range of environmental information, but it is not exhaustive.
        Therefore, its ability to convey the full range of environmental effects in a community has
        limits and EJSEAT should be used with caution. In particular, it should be considered that
        there is always a possibility of EJSEAT not finding environmental problems in an area where
        they actually exist.
     
  •  Important populations are omitted or undercounted in its demographic indicators - For
        example, it is often observed that Native Americans and Hispanics are not accurately
        captured by census procedures. In particular, migrant workers and immigrants tend to be
        significantly under-counted. With regard to Native Americans, the misrepresentations that
        can occur with EJSEAT, and the actions that should be undertaken to correct this, are
        complex. As noted in Appendix E, appropriate application of EJSEAT to Native Americans
        should begin with specific consultation with tribes in order to understand the relevant data
        bases (and their limitations).
        o  The underlying data sources do not reflect actual monitoring, but rely on standardized
            dispersion modeling that may not be adjusted for local conditions, and may not reflect
            long-range transport of contaminants.
        o  It does not adequately capture populations that might be experiencing certain
            vulnerabilities (see discussion of health data Part VI (3) below).
        o  Not all data sets are at the same spatial resolution. For example, the health indicators are
            at the county level, whereas all other indicators are either at the census tract level or are
            point locations. EJSEAT is largely air focused and does not adequately capture concerns
            about surface and ground water; soil and land contamination; nuisances (like noise,
            traffic and odor); and non-point source pollution like pesticide runoff and drift.
        o   Much of the data that EJSEAT uses are data that have been generated under EPA’s
            regulatory authorities; however there may be other impacts regulated by other federal
            agencies that do not find expression in EPA data gathering and thus may not be captured
            within EJSEAT.
        o  EJSEAT has a number of other important limitations. For example, it does not include
            qualitative data. These data are essential for understanding how environmental threats, or
            the lack of environmental amenities, affect the quality of life of residents in communities.
            They may provide important additional information for evaluating the nature and severity
            of risks. For example, groundwater contamination or discharges to waterways may have
            a greater impact in areas where residents rely on wells or local water sources for drinking
            and residential uses. They may have less impact in areas that draw on water provided by
            large scale and remote water sources. EJSEAT may also not capture environmental
            issues that do not fall under the EPA's statutory authority such as problems with the built
            environment, e.g. a lack of grocery stores, sidewalks, or recreational open space, or a
            problem with a lack of street connectivity. Evidence suggests that these are important
            factors for health, but they are outside the scope of EJSEAT.

(4) Some of the indicators currently used in EJSEAT might not adequately help identify
highly impacted areas: The inclusion of some of the indicators within certain categories of
EJSEAT should be reconsidered. Moreover, EPA’s test evaluation of EJSEAT revealed that
some indicators currently have relatively more influence on the overall EJSEAT score. Some of
these problematic indicators pertain to compliance, health, age, and RSEITOT. 7
Compliance Factors: The compliance category currently contains four indicators: inspections,
violations, formal actions and facility density. However, in the violations indicator, for example,
there is no distinction between a serious violation (one significantly impairing air or
groundwater) and one with no material environmental impact (administrative errors with no
physical impact and no suggestion of a pattern of non-compliance). Similarly, in the formal
action indicator, there is no distinction between repeat serious violators and those with a single
violation in one year.

This is indicative of a larger problem. EJSEAT cannot reflect the complexities and
nuances of an enforcement regime that is shared by EPA, the state and tribal governments,
regional enforcers, and private enforcement actions taken by citizens. For example, as noted
above, EJSEAT methodology uses number of inspections and number of violations as indicators
of an area of concern. Yet, some facilities may be more likely to be cited for violations because
they fall into one of EPA’s enforcement target sectors; yet other facilities—not in that sector but
presenting greater environmental risk—may not have been inspected and therefore not cited for
non-compliance. Some facilities are subject to literally thousands of requirements and
opportunities for non-compliance, yet pose far less risk than other facilities with fewer (or no)
regulatory requirements. 8 When it comes to inspections, the constantly inspected facility with a
few violations is likely to pose far less of a risk of noncompliance (and thus less of an adverse
impact) than a facility rarely inspected.

State enforcement adds another layer of complexity. What would be cited as a violation
in one state may be ignored in another state. The presence or absence of citizen suit enforcement
in an area might also affect the rate of inspection or public enforcement. Tribal resources (or
lack thereof) might also affect enforcement efforts as well. There is also a difference in
philosophy taken by the various enforcers, with some enforcement agencies using a deterrence
model and some using a cooperation model. The extent to which these models predominate in
any enforcement program affects the rate of violations and other formal actions.

In addition, there are concerns about the way in which the variables, “Number of
Facilities Not Inspected,” “Number of Violations”, and “Number of Formal Actions,” are
constructed. In the case of these variables, the number of cases/incidents is multiplied by the
percentage of cases/incidents. To us, this appears somewhat tautological. More importantly, it
does not correlate well with any known patterns of environmental exposure disparity and other
indicators of environmental injustice. This allows no meaningful interpretation of the resulting
values. Indeed, when mapped in Michigan, and New York, census tracts appeared randomly
distributed based on Inspections, rather than being concentrated in areas where industrial activity
is occurring. When mapped to census tracts in southern California and compared to another
environmental justice screening method in development for that State, tracts with high values for
the “Number of Violations” shows reasonable correlation with that method’s cumulative impacts
score, but the other two compliance variables do not.

At the same time, no variation was apparent among the census tracts based on Violations
and Formal Actions, i.e., all census tracts in Michigan and New York had the exact same values
based on these latter two indicators. A subsequent analysis by one of the technical experts
within the Council’s work group found no variation existed among the census tracts based on
Violations in 37 of the states and tribes, while no variation existed among the census tracts based
on Formal Actions in all 50 states (see Appendix B). This suggests significant errors in the
scoring.

In summary, compliance statistics are so uncertain in meaning that their use as an
indicator is highly questionable. The NEJAC strongly recommends that such statistics be
omitted from EJSEAT, in particular in applications involving targeting enforcement resources.
Health Factors: A focus on health is critically important and is central to the issues raised by
environmental justice areas. EJSEAT has a health category that has two indicators, percent
infant mortality and percent low birth weight. This category comprises one-fourth of the total
EJSEAT score. However, low birth weight is too problematic to serve as a useful surrogate for
community health. One external commentator on EJSEAT noted that the low birth weight
indicator might actually distort the accurate identification of Hispanic populations. 9 Moreover,
the Office of Compliance’s testing of EJSEAT indicated that low birth weight is only a moderate
predictor of census tract-level health, and infant mortality is in fact a weak predictor. 10

The weakness of these measures in indicating community health is compounded by the
way that this information is reported—by county rather than by census tract. 11 The county-wide
data render the health factor highly inexact. To illustrate, county-wide data cannot meaningfully
reveal specific communities within the county that may be experiencing the largest percentage of
low birth weights or infant mortalities within that county, masking areas of concern within larger
counties. As a result of the distortion that might occur from using these data, we recommend the
health category be omitted from the analysis. If the EPA should elect to reject our
recommendation, at the very least we recommend that health indicators be added as one factor in
the “social vulnerability” category. In this manner, these health indicators can be taken into
account, but they will not have such a substantial impact on the final EJSEAT score.

While the NEJAC understands that impacts to public health are an important reason
generally for taking aggressive action, our technical researchers believe it is unacceptable to use
county level with tract level data in the way that is currently used in EJSEAT – it is referred to in
empirical research as an “ecological fallacy” that should be avoided. If it is used within
EJSEAT, it should be accompanied by an explanation that the use of such information is
essentially a compromise to accommodate the limited data that exist at this time. To use health
data in a screening approach is desirable, but the data should be much better developed before
doing so. Some states and tribes report data for birth outcomes at a much higher level of
geographic resolution (census tract or zip code), and EJSEAT could be made much stronger if
more consistent reporting can be achieved. However, the current limitations of the health data in
EJSEAT underscore the need for continued efforts to improve and incorporate better health data
into screening tools such as EJSEAT.

Age:

Currently, EJSEAT has two age indicator categories, one for under 5 years and another for
over 64 years of age. The NEJAC endorses the use of the under 5 years of age category but
some within the work group have concerns with the over 64 years of age category.

Although age can be an appropriate surrogate for vulnerability generally, with greater
vulnerability occurring at early as well as late stages of life, there currently is no published
evidence to suggest that environmental burdens are distributed disproportionately by age. Indeed
to the contrary, a recently published article (see November 2009 issue of the American Journal
of Public Health) finds that people over the age of 64 are less likely, not more likely, than the
general population to live near sources of industrial pollution. Furthermore, two of the technical
experts within the work group NEJAC found that census tracts with higher than average
percentages of those over 64 were located in the wealthier suburban areas of Detroit and New
York City. Thus, the Council is concerned that using age indicators will not lead to areas that are
vulnerable due to location near high impact areas. Moreover, it may confound the analysis in
several ways. For example, while the elderly may be more vulnerable, they may be concentrated
in areas with no recognizable environmental justice component, such as in relatively affluent
suburbs with little pollution. To report elder vulnerability separately may give relatively well-off
populations more weight than might be appropriate, especially considering that additional
indicators of social vulnerability (such as percent unemployed and percent female-headed
households) are not currently considered in the social demographic category. One of the
problems, for example, with using percent over 64 is that areas with high concentrations of the
poor, poverty, and pollution are also areas that tend to have shorter life expectancy. For these
reasons, some members of the Council feel that the over 64 age category should be removed
from EJSEAT. In its place, additional factors indicating social vulnerability might include per
capita income, percentage of home ownership, percentage unemployed, percentage of female-
headed households, and presence of schools. Most of these have been examined in the
environmental justice literature and are better indicators of social vulnerability and of where
disproportionate environmental burdens exist than age.

Other members of the Council feel that the over age 64 variable should be retained. It is
well documented that the elderly, in addition to children and those with pre-existing serious
health problems, are especially vulnerable to the non-cancer effects of air pollution, as compared
to the general population. 12 While it is true that some census tracts that do not otherwise fit the
general description of an overburdened community (exposure to environmental hazards, other
SES variables, etc.) do contain concentrations of elderly resident, these areas would not likely be
misclassified or otherwise highlighted by EJSEAT because this age variable is only one of many
indicators used to calculate the final EJSEAT score –wealthy suburbs with high concentrations
of elderly would not be expected to be at the upper end of the range of EJSEAT scores.
However, if there are two census tracts that are equal in all variables except the over 64 age
category, the tract with a higher percentage of elderly residents does have a greater burden and
should receive an incrementally higher EJSEAT score. Because EJSEAT uses many other
indicator variables in addition to the over 64 age category, its impact is likely marginal.

The NEJAC agrees that the percentage under 5 years of age is entirely appropriate and
should be retained it EJSEAT. This variable was not found to produce distortions in EJSEAT.
That is, its inclusion does not result in a pointing away from census tracts reflecting
environmental injustice characteristics of over-concentrations of pollution, minorities, and the
poor. Indeed, areas where those under 5 years of age are concentrated are likely areas where life
expectancies are shorter due to high pollution burdens and low economic resources.

Thus, the under 5 social indicator should not be omitted nor combined with over 64. The
concern and caution include an under-valuation or weighting of air quality impacts on under 5
health impacts related to disproportionate and adverse impacts on long-term quality of life
(longevity, diminished health in formative and educational years, as well as insurability for
quality healthcare). Under 5 concerns also takes into consideration the future capacity for future
full/active employment for low-income minority/tribal populations that currently are carrying a
disproportionate share of under and unemployment.

RSEITOT:

One of the EJSEAT environmental indicators is a measure of exposure from
facilities that report to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). This indicator is taken from US
EPA’s Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) project, which was created by EPA to
provide a more complete assessment of the information contained in the TRI. The EPA Office
of Pollution Prevention and Toxics processes the TRI data on the quantity of each chemical
reported released by each facility to create the RSEI (for details, see
http://www.epa.gov/oppt/rsei and OPPT 2004). The EPA combines three methods to assess the
human health risks posed by each release: (1) fate and transport, or how the chemical spreads
from the point of release to the surrounding area; (2) toxicity, or how dangerous the chemical is
in terms of chronic human health effects on a per-pound basis; and (3) population exposure, or
how many people live in the affected areas. These values are referred to as facility “RSEI
scores,” an estimate of the total human health hazard due to contributions of individual
chemicals to the facility’s total score.

The EPA calculates the total chronic health risks (cancer and non-cancer) from toxic air
pollution using toxicity weights and inhalation factors for the underlying chemicals reported by
every facility in the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). It then uses a fate-and-transport model that
estimates exposure levels in each of more than 10,000 one-kilometer-square “grid cells” around
the facility. The RSEI process then overlays the grid of toxicity-weighted air concentrations
with a conforming grid of population data matched from census block-level data from the U.S.
Census to measure total population risk from each release. As EPA’s primary objective in
creating RSEI was to help federal and state agencies set priorities for environmental protection,
the raw data are aggregated (across chemicals and across impacted population) on a facility-by-
facility basis. The facility-wise RSEI scores, a source-based measure, are made available to
agencies and the public on the RSEI public release data CD-ROM.

It is possible to average these facility scores by census tract, allowing calculation of an
averaged tract-level score. EJSEAT appears to be using this tract score as the variable
RSEITOT. If the data came from a pre-2006 release of the RSEI information that is distributed
by EPA on the RSEI CD-ROM, it might be both wrong and inaccurate. However, a team of
university-based researchers (including two members of the work group) were provided with all
of the geographic micro data for individual grid cells nationwide. These researchers discovered
significant errors in the geographic model used in RSEI score calculations that make it
impossible to obtain accurate tract-based scores. They have corrected this problem and reported
the fix to the EPA and the consulting company that is charged with RSEI database maintenance
and calculations, but RSEI CDs have not been corrected. It appears likely that the RSEITOT
values used in EJSEAT are uncorrected or otherwise in error. When mapped in California,
Michigan, and New York, the patterns of RSEITOT values with census tracts appeared randomly
distributed based on RSEITOT, rather than being concentrated in areas where industrial activity
is occurring. Furthermore, it was found that for 74% of the census tracts in the U.S., the
RSEITOT values are missing. This variable needs clarification and possible modification, before
we can constructively comment on its use or appropriateness for EJSEAT.

What is needed is a measure of ground-level pollution burdens at the tract level that
reflect the contributions of multiple facility sources, both within and proximate to the tract, to the
total ambient pollutant concentrations for that tract. One broad overall measure that comes from
the RSEI program is the toxicity-weighted exposure for census tract residents, which can be
calculated by summing all reported emissions from all TRI sources that accumulate in any
census tract, appropriately weighted by the accepted toxicity value for each chemical. The
NEJAC recommends that EJSEAT adopt this metric as the environmental indicator that
represents TRI reported releases.

Moreover, EPA will need to explain clearly the limits of the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI)
so there will be no misunderstanding of the scope of information conveyed by TRI and thus
incorporated in RSEITOT and EJSEAT. These limits include:

  • Only selected industrial sectors or polluting activities (limited to 23,000 facilities in the U.S.) and selected chemicals (approximately 650 at present) are included in TRI.
  • Within the selected sectors and activities, facilities with fewer than 10 full-time employees are exempt from reporting.
  • Facilities releasing toxics each year at levels under the reporting threshold set for an individual chemical (or in a form different than that designated for reporting - in dust or fibrous form, for example) are exempt from reporting.
  • Limitations on regulation and data gathering obligations authorized under federal environmental statutes (e.g., grandfather clauses, toxic materials sent for recycling without intervening processing) will transfer to limits on TRI data.

As a result, many facilities and activities of concern to environmental justice communities will
not be captured in the TRI/RSEITOT data. For this reason, the NEJAC recommends in the
subsequent section that EPA "ground truth" its use of EJSEAT with active outreach to potentially
impacted communities in order to assure that conditions actually on the ground are consistent
with what is in the data sets and ultimately, what the analysis reveals.

Percent minority population:

Within EJSEAT, percent minority is one of six indicators in the
Social Demographic category that comprises one-fourth of the overall ESJEAT score. The
NEJAC has frequently observed over the years that the legacy of racial and ethnic discrimination
has real impacts in terms of communities’ health and welfare, as well as their vulnerability to
environmental stressors. Empirical data reveal a strong correlation between race and
environmental stressors, such as proximity to polluting facilities and exposures to certain
chemicals. Other studies reveal racial correlations to actual health effects, such as high blood
lead levels and asthma. Thus, this is a reliable indicator whose weight should not be diluted by
including less important or indeed in some cases erroneous, variables within the overall EJSEAT
score.

Facility density:

Currently, in the compliance category, EJSEAT uses facility density (number
of facilities captured in the fields of national data included in EJSEAT) as one of the compliance
indicators. Facility density is one of the cornerstones of cumulative risk and impact, and is a
vital component of EJSEAT. It is given insufficient weight in EJSEAT, however. For example,
an analysis by one of the technical experts in the NEJAC work group found that when the 18
indicators are grouped into their components, the Health component was the most influential,
having twice the impact on the EJSEAT score as compared to the Compliance, Demographic and
Environmental components. Moreover, within the facility density category itself, all facilities
that have at least one permit are counted equally. Thus, a huge refinery with multiple permits
counts the same as a small facility with one permit. The configuration of EJSEAT also should be
adjusted to accord this feature sufficient weight.

(5) The Categories of measures currently used in EJSEAT result in over-weighting of some
categories:

As indicated above, currently EJSEAT uses 4 main categories of analysis: social
demographic measures (with 6 different indicators), environmental measures (with 6 different
indicators), compliance measures (with 4 different indicators) and health measures (with 2
indicators). Each of these four categories carries equal weight, despite the fact that they have
different numbers of indicators within them. As a result, of 18 indictors overall, some of the
indicators have a relatively higher weight in the overall score than indicators in other categories.
For example, low birth weight is only one of two indicators in the health measure, while percent
in poverty is one of six indicators in the social demographic indicators. Birth weight, an
unreliable indicator, is weighted more heavily in the overall score than is percent in poverty, a
very reliable indicator. Moreover, we believe that race is an appropriate factor in EJSEAT, and
currently its relevance may be unintentionally diluted in the EJSEAT methodology by including
the compliance and health variables.

As a result of NEJAC’s review of the various EJSEAT indicators and their relative
weight in arriving at an overall score, the Council recommends, to increase overall reliability, the
main measures in EJSEAT could be reduced to two categories equally weighted: social
vulnerability and environmental burden. Environmental burden would include the current
environmental indicators plus facility density. Social vulnerability would include the current
demographic factors as modified in the discussion above. For illustration purposes, the EPA
may elect to reorganize the categories in the following manner:

Environmental burden

  • NATA cancer risk,
  • NATA neurological and respiratory hazard index,
  • NATA non-cancer diesel particulate matter (PM),
  • particulate matter (PM)-2.5 concentration,
  • ozone concentration (8-hour average), and
  • averaged RSEI risk-related scores for all federally permitted industrial facilities in the census tract
  • Facility density

Social Vulnerability

  • percent persons below the poverty line,
  • percent persons over 25 not having high school diplomas,
  • percent persons under 5 years old,
  • percent households linguistically isolated, and
  • Percent persons who are minorities (African American, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian/Pacific Islanders).
  • Rate of low birth weight or rate of infant mortality, especially if available at the census tract level.
  • An additional factor indicating social vulnerability, such as per capita income, percentage of home ownership, percentage unemployed, percentage of female-headed households, and presence of schools.

Reduction to two categories accurately highlights the two main factors central to
environmental justice concerns, will better balance appropriate indicators, and may compensate
for the fact that certain indicators in both categories contain data that are not optimal (e.g., too
few sources of environmental burden are accessible in the national database, census data may
undercount certain minority populations and health data are too limited to be useful at all).

In short, distortion occurs when there are an unequal number of variables in each major
category. As EPA ultimately decides what variables to retain within each major category—or in
the future may decide to add additional variables—in all cases the EPA must make sure that
inappropriate overweighting or corresponding dilution does not occur, for example, by
performing a sensitivity analysis to see the impact of the overall category configuration
ultimately chosen.

(6) Alternate methods of normalizing indicator, category, and EJSEAT scores:
The current method of normalizing in EJSEAT assigns zero to the lowest value of an
indicator and 100 to the highest value. This method of normalizing is also applied to the four
component scores and to the composite EJSEAT score. In lieu of this kind of normalizing the
NEJAC recommends that z-scoring (subtracting from values the mean value and dividing by the
standard deviation) be used instead as it appears to better differentiate census tracts. This
observation is based on analyses performed in California and Michigan by technical experts of
the Council’s work group (see Appendix). There are several advantages for using z scales. They
allow for a better identification of areas with high effects, they control for the differing ranges of
the various sub-indicators, and they use a greater detail of the data, allowing for a more refined
consideration of the data.

(7) The current EJSEAT methodology limits its usefulness for certain applications:
As indicated above, under the methodology that EJSEAT employs, the data are
normalized to a standard scale that somewhat suppresses the range of results. In addition, the
data are normalized each time an EJSEAT score is recalculated. Because of this, scores cannot
be compared over time. This impedes the ability of the agency to identify historically exposed
areas and track progress in that community. Normalizing also makes it difficult to compare
state-by-state performance over time. In addition, EJSEAT includes population and facility
density factors that will underweight rural populations and communities with few but very large
or very polluting facilities. These points are discussed in greater detail below.

CONCLUSIONS
The review of the NEJAC has led the Council to equally important conclusions about the
applications of EJSEAT:

(1) Use of the tool should be carefully delineated:

  •     Generally, EJSEAT can be useful as part of retrospective evaluations of whether a particular
        EPA program has been effective in improving environmental justice. Region V, for example,
        has used the tool to characterize whether its inspection pattern has sufficiently covered
        environmental justice areas, whether its case settlement policies are sufficiently robust in
        environmental justice areas, whether pollution prevention efforts have focused on
        environmental justice areas, and whether environmental benefits received (small grants, etc.)
        have sufficiently been focused on environmental justice areas.
  •     In contrast, where EJSEAT is used prospectively, it must be part of a community specific
        (although consistently employed) process to identify areas not captured by the elements of
        EJSEAT. The NEJAC does not know whether EPA plans to use EJSEAT to create a list of
        the high priority areas for which environmental justice may be an important issue (for
        purposes of targeting enforcement efforts, grant opportunities, or otherwise). If that is the
        case, however, it will be important that the list be administered in a way that is transparent
        and that compensates for the limits on data available in the national data base. For this
        reason, NEJAC recommends the following protocol for use of EJSEAT in circumstances in
        which it will have an impact on current and future allocation of resources:

  •     In using this public participation model, which should include both public input and review
        of any available local land use data, it will be particularly important that EPA adequately
        outreach to potential environmental justice areas impacted by this prioritization, perhaps
        using the network of Regional environmental justice coordinators to arrange public meetings

(2)     EPA communications describing EJSEAT must be very clear:

All communications about the tool must be very clear that:

  •     EJSEAT is a consistent, data-based screening tool, but is only a coarse screen, not a   
        conclusion that any particular community is or is not an environmental justice community. It
        should be made clear at all times that EJSEAT is a screening tool, not an assessment tool,
        and that further analysis may be necessary.
  •     EJSEAT includes features tracked in a national database, but does not capture many burdens
        that must be part of an environmental justice analysis and response, particularly on a regional
        or local area, as well as in rural areas.
  •     EJSEAT is largely air focused and will not adequately capture concerns about surface and
        ground water; soil and land contamination; nuisances like noise, traffic and odor; and non-
        point sources like pesticide drift and transit corridor emissions.
  •     EJSEAT is a coarse screening tool only – it can flag areas for attention, but communities
        must have the opportunity to comment upon an EJSEAT score where they believe an
        environmental justice community has not been identified by the scoring process. If the
        particular application does not require national consistency, the community should have the
        opportunity to supplement the analysis with reliable data, such as land use patterns, from a
        regional or local database. Similarly, communities believed falsely identified by EJSEAT
        (for example, industrial zones with virtually no residents) should have the opportunity to
        make their views known to EPA. However, in general we expect that agency resources will
        be devoted to environmental justice areas, and these resources should be welcomed by
        community members. EPA should create a training program for those using EJSEAT,
        whether in EPA or throughout the states and tribal territories, to assure that its contents (and
        what it does not capture) are understood and its uses are appropriate.

Communications must be equally clear on what EJSEAT is not:

  •     The NEJAC recommends in the strongest possible terms that EJSEAT cannot be used in an
        exclusionary manner. Failure to be prioritized in EJSEAT does not indicate a community
        should not be treated as an environmental justice community, and this fact must be
        communicated clearly to all potential users of the tool. Possible misuse is particularly
        troubling because many of the environmental justice communities not ranked thus by
        EJSEAT are in fact those who have suffered neglect the longest. For example, communities
        not in the national database because they are living with the consequences of historic
        contamination (pre-dating modern regulatory obligations) will simply fall through the
        EJSEAT screen at the same time that they will not have the benefit of regular attention by
        regulatory inspectors.
  •     Nor should designation as an EJSEAT priority community (if scoring is used to rank) be used
        arbitrarily to impede community development or otherwise overturn, as opposed to inform,
        local land use authorities or state or EPA permitting officials. EJSEAT is intended to bring
        needed additional resources and opportunity to communities with legitimate environmental
         justice concerns, and should not be used in a way that creates any stigma for a community
         identified as a result of its use. EJSEAT must not become a new form of “redlining.” At the
         same time, however, the concern about stigma should not be used to provide a rationale for
         declining to use a coarse screen method to identify potential areas of concern, or for
         declining to undertake a more nuanced environmental justice analysis within the regulatory
         context.
  •      Moreover, EJSEAT is an analytic tool and not itself a source of regulatory authority, and
         does not override applicable rules and regulations. EJSEAT merely screens to identify
         potential areas needing environmental improvement, and the response – as opposed to
         screening process – must take in all appropriate factors and controlling legal requirements.
         We also believe that EJSEAT should be used in the context of NEJAC’s principles of
         collaborative problem solving and a bias for action. 
  •      EJSEAT should not be used in a way that thwarts the goals NEJAC set forth in its report on
         Cumulative Risk. The limits of the national databases used in EJSEAT mean that only some
         of the vulnerabilities and some of the stressors that compromise the health and welfare of
         residents of environmental justice areas will be captured. If EPA and state and tribal
         governments focus resources only on the sources captured within EJSEAT, some highly
         impacted and vulnerable areas will be unaddressed. As a result, some sources included for
         regulatory action may argue that activities to reduce pollution and improve community
         conditions are not being demanded proportionately of all contributors to the existing
         environmental burdens. These are not circumstances likely to result in problem-solving and
         concrete progress toward community improvement.

(3) Next steps:

During discussions with EPA Headquarters and the Regions, all parties
concurred that EJSEAT will remain a work-in-progress as new databases are developed, features
of the tool are evaluated in the field, and new opportunities emerge to improve its accuracy and
usefulness. EPA is to be commended for seeking the views of the diverse group of stakeholders
represented in NEJAC to assist the agency as it formulates and rolls out this tool. This kind of
outreach should continue under the auspices of NEJAC or other forums reflecting similarly
diverse and knowledgeable stakeholders.

SUMMARY OF KEY RECOMMENDATIONS
A. Technical Recommendations:
For Immediate Implementation

1.  Because of the significant problems found for some of the indicators, it is recommended that
     some indicators be significantly modified or deleted entirely. Recommended for deletion
     are: a) Facilities Not Inspected, b) Violations, and c) Number of Formal Actions. It is further
     recommended that a) Rate of Low Birth Weight and b) Rate of Infant Mortality be either
     combined with the Demographic variables or be deleted. RSEITOT should be significantly
     modified or deleted. We recommend that the geographically specific air pollution risk
     estimates from the TRI be used rather than the current RSEITOT variable.

2. Organizing the 18 indicators into four components, with varying numbers of indicators in
each component, results in giving some indicators more weight than others. The four
components (Compliance, Environment, Demographic, and Health) could be logically and more
usefully collapsed into two: Environmental Impacts and Social Vulnerability. Facility Density
should be included in the “Environment” category, thus eliminating “Compliance” as a separate
component (after also deleting Facilities Not Inspected, Violations, and Formal Actions, as
recommended above). Infant mortality and low birth weight should either be added to the social
vulnerability component, or deleted altogether, eliminating “Health” as a separate component.

3. EPA should reexamine the age variables. There is overall agreement that the under age 5
variable should be retained. In terms of the over age 64 variable, the EPA may omit the variable
altogether, may combine it with the under age 5 variable so as not to overweight age generally,
or may retain both age variables separately.

4. The EPA should perform a sensitivity analysis on each variable to determine the degree to
which that variable may influence EJSEAT scores and the pattern of those scores.

5. The current method of normalizing in EJSEAT should be replaced by z-scoring (subtracting
the mean and dividing by the standard deviation of the indicator’s values). This method better
differentiates census tracts.

6. EPA should make geographic maps of EJSEAT for each state and post these on its website in
order to make EJSEAT accessible to everyone. Individuals and groups can then identify
tracts/geographic areas that were either overlooked by EJSEAT or require additional
information, and bring this to the EPA’s attention.

Longer-Range Goals

7. EJSEAT currently uses environmental indicators that are focused mostly on air pollution.
Data pertaining to soil contamination; surface and ground water contamination; nuisances like
noise, traffic and odor; and non-point sources like pesticide drift and transit corridor emissions
and other environmental factors ought to be also considered.

8.      Additional indicators of Social Vulnerability could be considered, e.g., per capita or
median household incomes, percentage of home ownership, percentage unemployed, percentage
of female-headed households, presence of schools, etc. However, thought must be given to the
proper weighting of these indicators within the Social Vulnerability Category in order to avoid
diluting variables with greater reliability.

9.      It should be noted that the spatial distribution of Native American people within the U.S.
may be problematic within the methodology of EJSEAT. Statistically speaking, tribal nations
rarely show up on national databases, particularly with regard to whether facilities identified in
the EPA database are on tribal land or within a tribal buffer zone. EPA's American Indian
Environment Office has been tasked with creating an environmental baseline assessment of
Indian Country, but the data are largely protected against outside users, and do not include
information created by tribal governments that would be material to the kind of evaluation
envisioned by EJSEAT. Of particular concern to any characterization of risk in communities
with potential environmental justice concerns is the fact that there are many pan-Indian
communities in large cities, where enrolled tribal members live outside the tribal jurisdiction yet
will have vulnerabilities that should be understood in an EJSEAT analysis. These issues are
described in detail in Appendix E. Given these important and complex issues, we recommend
that EPA consult with Native American representatives to develop mechanisms to assure
appropriate treatment within the context of the policy, permitting, enforcement, and other
decisions the use of EJSEAT will affect.

10.      EJSEAT ought to allow local groups to add additional data to EJSEAT for applications
that may not call for nationally consistent methodologies. Specifically, EPA should consider
including a component in EJSEAT designated to community concerns.

11.      Because of the normalizing methods used in EJSEAT, scores cannot be compared across
states and tribal territories and across time. As a result EJSEAT in its current form cannot be
used to assess progress. Additional methods should be developed, or EJSEAT modified, so that
comparisons can be made across place and time.

12.      EPA ought to obtain better data on other health indicators associated with environmental
exposures such as incidence of cancer, lead poisoning, asthma and other respiratory diseases.
The EPA should attempt to obtain these data at the census tract level so that the data can be
incorporated into EJSEAT in a methodologically consistent manner.

B. Policy Recommendations

13. Questions were raised about how the agency will use this methodology in general and how it
    will deal with false positives (i.e. EJSEAT giving high scores to census tracts where
    environmental justice problems do not exist) and false negatives (i.e., EJSEAT giving low
    scores to tracts where environmental justice issues are in fact present) in particular. There is
    special concern regarding false negatives, i.e., that EJSEAT will be used to justify inaction in
    communities with environmental justice issues. EPA needs to be explicit about how such
    problems will be avoided. In addition, there may be a tendency by people both inside and
    outside the EPA to focus on the quantitative aspects of EJSEAT and take the scoring too
    literally. A training program on the appropriate use of EJSEAT may help to avoid this. The
    outreach and training regarding EJSEAT might include:
         a.     Demonstration projects - as part of the implementation of EJSEAT, pilot projects
                 should be established
         b.     Dissemination of info - brochures, webinars, website
         c.     Evaluation process - projects that use EJSEAT should be monitored and results
                 evaluated

14. There is currently a lack of clarity about how EJSEAT will be used.    EPA should consider                                                                        E
    widely the possible uses that can be made of EJSEAT. Demonstration projects should be
    developed and disseminated to the public. Public participation and stakeholder input should
    be solicited to help further develop EJSEAT’s potential for helping affected areas.
 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) acknowledges the efforts of the Nationally Consistent Environmental Justice Screening Approached (NCEJS) in preparing the initial draft of this report. The NEJAC Work Group that prepared this report represented academia, business and industry, and members of community-based organization and dedicated many hours in coordinating their effort.

DISCLAIMER

This Report and recommendations have been written as part of the activities of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, a public advisory committee providing independent advice and recommendations on the issue of environmental justice to the Administrator and other officials of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency). In addition, the materials, opinions, findings, recommendations, and conclusions expressed herein, and in any study or other source referenced herein, should not be construed as adopted or endorsed by any organization with which any Work Group member is affiliated.

This report has not been reviewed for approval by EPA, and hence, its contents and recommendations do not necessarily represent the views and the policies of the Agency, nor of other agencies in the Executive Branch of the Federal government.

A Federal Advisory Committee to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Nationally Consistent Environmental Justice Screening Approaches

MAY 2010

A Report of Advice and Recommendations of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council

NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ADVISORY COUNCIL

Executive Council

Richard Moore, Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (NEJAC Chair)
Don Aragon, Wind River Environmental Quality Commission
Chuck Barlow, Entergy Corporation
Sue Briggum, Waste Management, Inc.
Peter Captain, Sr., Tanana Chiefs Council
Jolene Catron, Wind River Alliance
Wynecta Fisher, New Orleans Mayor’s Office of Environmental Affairs
Jodena Henneke, Texas General Land Office
M. Kathryn Brown, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
William Harper, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Christian Holmes, Global Environment and Technology Foundation
Hilton Kelly, Community In-Power Development Association, Inc.
J. Langdon Marsh, Portland State University, National Policy Consensus Center
Gregory Melanson, formerly with Bank of America
Paul Mohai, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment
Patricia E. Salkin, Albany Law School
Shankar Prasad, Coalition for Clean Air
John Ridgway, Washington State Department of Ecology
John Rosenthall, National Small Town Alliance
Omega Wilson, West End Revitalization Association
Elizabeth Yeampierre, UPROSE
Victoria Robinson, NEJAC Designated Federal Officer (DFO), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Justice

Nationally Consistent Environmental Justice Screening Approaches Work Group

Sue Briggum, Waste Management, Inc. (Work Group Co-Chair)
Eileen Gauna, University of New Mexico Law School, (Work Group Co-Chair)
Richard Moore, Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice
Shankar Prasad, Coalition for Clean Air
Omega R. Wilson, West End Revitalization Association
Juliana Maantay, Lehman College, Associate Professor of Urban Development
Paul Mohai, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources
Russ Lopez, Assistant Professor, Boston University School of Public Health
Jodena Henneke, Deputy Commissioner, Coastal Resources
Mustafa Ali, Designated Federal Officer, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Justice

 

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