Environmental Justice: Screening Tools, EJ Indexes, and Justice40

Understanding the uses of EJ screening tools—and the strengths and weaknesses of alternative approaches—for Justice40 and similar programs


March 24, 2022


12:00–1:00 p.m. ET

Event Details

Environmental justice (EJ) screening and mapping tools bring together environmental, socioeconomic, and demographic information to identify the communities that are most affected by pollution and where the most vulnerable groups are located. The US Environmental Protection Agency’s EJScreen is one example. California has its own screening and mapping tool, CalEnviroScreen; several other states also have developed, or are developing, screening tools. The White House recently released a beta version of a new Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, which is designed to help federal agencies identify disadvantaged, marginalized and underserved communities for purposes of the Justice40 initiative outlined in the President’s Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.

On March 24, 2022, Resources for the Future (RFF) and the Urban Institute hosted the final event in Exposure, where a panel of experts discussed the uses of screening tools—including for Justice40 and similar programs—and the strengths and weaknesses of alternative approaches.


  • Ana Baptista, The New School
  • Jamesa Johnson-Greer, Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition
  • Paul Mohai, University of Michigan
  • Sacoby Wilson, University of Maryland
  • Anne Junod, Urban Institute (Moderator)
  • Margaret Walls, Resources for the Future (Moderator)

Event Video

Additional Materials

Reading List

White House Council on Environmental Quality

Exposure: An RFF–Urban Institute Series on Environmental Justice

Environmental justice (EJ) is an imperative that is finally getting its national policy due. For many low-income neighborhoods, households of color, tribal communities, and other marginalized groups, environmental injustice compounds a legacy of social, economic, and political disenfranchisement. Recent presidential executive orders, appointments, and proposed legislation acknowledge the disproportionate burdens of negative environmental conditions and exposures, and reduced access to environmental benefits and amenities, placed on these populations.

Since the groundbreaking Toxic Wastes and Race and Dumping in Dixie published in the late 1980s first brought EJ issues to the fore, scholars have supported activists and journalists by investigating the mechanisms that create and perpetuate environmental inequities and exclusion and quantifying the extent of the problems. This combined scholarship and advocacy has led to improved monitoring and outcome tracking and some progress in finding solutions to persistent pollution problems. But inequities persist—and as the United States begins to reckon with the climate crisis, designing climate policies that benefit all communities will be imperative.

RFF and the Urban Institute are hosting this webinar series on the current state of EJ research across disciplines, examining how research can inform policy and identifying remaining gaps in knowledge. With panels of experts from the research and EJ advocacy communities, we will take a deep dive into issues related to cumulative environmental impacts, EJ screening tools, energy equity and transitions, benefit-cost analysis and regulatory design, disaster and climate adaptation, and the design of climate policies. The series will also ask how research can inform better policy design and public investments to remedy inequities, past and present.


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