Environmental Justice Mapping Bill Critical to Locate Affected Communities, Address Disproportionate Climate Impacts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — For decades, Black, Indigenous, LatinX, Asian and frontline communities have been forced to bear the brunt of pollution, climate impacts, and environmental degradation. A new bill introduced by U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Representative Cori Bush (D-MO) would create an interactive mapping tool to locate communities disproportionately affected by environmental impacts. The Environmental Justice Mapping and Data Collection Act of 2021 is a crucial first step in identifying the communities where help is most needed.

“Climate change, worsening natural disasters, and decades of toxic pollution have all compounded to create a detrimental force working against Black, Brown and Indigenous communities who are living in sacrifice zones,” said Mustafa Santiago Ali, vice president for environmental justice, climate and community revitalization at the National Wildlife Federation. “Senator Markey’s bill will help identify gaps in data and resources to direct funding where it is truly needed so we can help ensure frontline and fence line communities are afforded the same protections as everyone else.”

This bill introduction comes after a new white paper was recently produced by the National Wildlife Federation in partnership with Dr. Sacoby Wilson, director of the community engagement, environmental justice and health lab at the University of Maryland. The report showed how environmental justice screening and mapping tools can be powerful allies in the fight for equitable access to climate solutions by building understanding of where environmental and climate impacts disproportionately occur. The paper includes recommendations on how to integrate these tools into policymaking to ensure a future where every American has access to clean air, water, and a safe outdoors.  

“Technology like geospatial mapping tools can help us understand the burdens that frontline and fence line communities face,” said Dr. Sacoby Wilson. “Properly investing in these tools, and using them to drive decision-making will help us advance climate equity and environmental justice, which is crucial if we want to create healthy and resilient communities for all particularly for populations whose communities have been used as sacrifice zones.”

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