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House Democrats seek to codify environmental inequality mapping tool 

House Democrats seek to codify environmental inequality mapping tool 
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A group of House Democrats is introducing legislation that aims to codify a requirement for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to maintain and update its mapping and screening tool for communities impacted by environmental inequality. 

The EPA currently has a tool, called EJSCREEN, that provides demographic and environmental information for any given area. 

The legislation to codify its use is being introduced in the House by Democratic Reps. A. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinDemocrats to determine leaders after disappointing election Progressive group slams Biden White House pick over tie to fossil fuel industry OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden pledges carbon-free power by 2035 in T environment plan | Trump administration has been underestimating costs of carbon pollution, government watchdog finds | Trump to move forward with rollback of bedrock environmental law MORE (Va.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (Calif.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalInequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (Wash.) and Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.). 

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“Since its creation, EJSCREEN has helped shine a light on the disproportionate environmental burdens faced by too many communities, and served as an important resource in our fight to protect those must vulnerable to pollution. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on environmental justice communities, it is critical that we codify this tool,” McEachin said in a statement. 

A similar measure has been introduced in the Senate as both a stand-alone bill and as part of a bipartisan water infrastructure package

The EJSCREEN online tool allows users to select a geographic area and provides information about that area's racial, income and age demographics and also provides environmental information such as levels of certain types of air pollution and lifetime cancer risk due to air toxic inhalation for the area. 

In a statement, Jayapal praised EJSCREEN as a "critical tool to raise awareness, provide accurate resources and promote accountability for our communities and policymakers."

The coronavirus pandemic has renewed focus on environmental inequality as a Harvard study found that people who live in more polluted areas are more likely to die from the virus.

Environmental justice advocates have long called for action to tackle the unequal effects of environmental issues on low-income and minority communities. Studies have shown, for example, that these groups face greater impacts from pollution.