PA Environmental Justice Areas
DEP’s Definition of Environmental Justice (EJ) areas was updated on September 16. Find out more about the EJ Policy Revision here or review the PennEnviroScreen tool and Methodology Document.
How does DEP identify Environmental Justice (EJ) areas?
The Pennsylvania Environmental Justice Mapping and Screening Tool (PennEnviroScreen) available online at gis.dep.pa.gov/PennEnviroScreen/. The state-of-the-art mapping tool will allow DEP to more accurately identify communities facing environmental justice issues using more than 30 environmental, health, and socioeconomic indicators. DEP is in the process of creating videos to help introduce the PennEnviroScreen tool. There is a PennEnviroScreen methodology document that goes into detail on the tool, targeted toward academics and researchers.
The PennEnviroScreen tool includes new EJ Areas that will take effect on September 16, but will also show the EJ areas that have been in place under the old policy for permits and grant applications going through under the older mapping. If a DEP permit applicant plans to file a permit application on or after September 16, the applicant should consider using the new PennEnviroScreen tool to determine if the permit’s facility is in an environmental justice area. If a grant application is submitted in response to a grant application package published after September 16, then these EJ areas will apply. For earlier grant applications, maps using the previous EJ area definition are also included on this tool.
For the purposes of the DEP 2004 Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy which was in effect until September 16, DEP defined an EJ Area as any census tract where 20 percent or more individuals live at or below the federal poverty line, and/or 30 percent or more of the population identifies as a non-white minority, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the federal guidelines for poverty.
For work outside the Environmental Justice Policy, DEP staff may take a broader approach to considering communities with Environmental Justice implications. While DEP has designated Environmental Justice Areas for implementing the Environmental Justice Policy, there is not a universally recognized definition of Environmental Justice Areas. A multitude of factors are considered in community engagement at the federal, state, and local level regarding environmental justice.
Where are Pennsylvania's EJ Areas located
DEP hosts several tools to help you determine if the Environmental Justice Policy would automatically apply to your community. You can determine if your community is located in an EJ Area by using the PennEnviroScreen tool, eMap or by contacting the regional coordinator in your region. The PennEnviroScreen tool allows you to enter an address, municipality, or county in the search bar to help find that exact location.. The state-of-the-art PennEnviroScreen mapping tool will allow DEP to more accurately identify communities facing environmental justice issues using more than 30 environmental, health, and socioeconomic indicators.
DEP staff may look at a variety of available resources from national and regional sources to tailor outreach to communities within EJ areas. These tools are available for public use and you can contact the regional coordinator in your region for assistance with these tools. They include analysis of additional demographic and environmental indicators of environmental justice beyond those considered in the Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy. Regional tools often cover a smaller geographic area, allowing for more precise analysis. These and other tools may be useful to DEP staff in determining whether to include a project to opt-in for the EJ Policy or for other consideration outside of this policy.
DEP’s PennEnviroScreen tool
EPA’s EJSCREEN tool
DVRPC’s Indicators of Potential Disadvantage
LVPC’s Equity Analysis