US EPA include park access in EJSCREEN and promote park access

Screen-Shot-2015-12-21-at-3.49.33-PM-1024x771.png

The City Project recommends that US EPA include park access in EJSCREEN, and promote equal access to parks as an environmental justice and civil rights concern. EJSCREEN has tremendous potential to analyze the distribution of environmental benefits – such as access to parks and school fields – and environmental burdens – such as exposure to toxics – based on race, color, or national origin, poverty, and other factors. US EPA’s EJSCREEN is a new mapping tool that enables users to choose a geographic area, and the tool then provides nationally consistent demographic and environmental information for that area.

Using GIS data for California uploaded by The City Project and GreenInfo Network, the following map shows park acres per thousand residents (under 1, 1-3, and over 3 acres) and people of color for California. The red hot spots shows areas that are disproportionately populated by people of color and lacking in green space. US EPA should include uniform park data nationwide in EJSCREEN, and help alleviate park disparities.

EJSCREEN uses 12 environmental indicators including exposure to air toxics, particulate matter, ozone, lead paint, traffic, and proximity to sites. There are 6 demographic indicators: percent low-income, percent minority, less than high school education, linguistic isolation, individuals under age 5, and individuals over age 64.

Race, color, or national origin, poverty, and other factors are relevant under civil rights and environmental justice laws and principles. This includes Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the President’s Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice and health. Federal agencies including US EPA can use the screening and mapping tool to ensure compliance in their own work under 12898, and compliance by recipients of federal funds under Title VI. This includes, for example, state, regional, and local park agencies and private recipients of federal funding, such as land trusts and mainstream environmental groups.

EJSCREEN users can add park access data to the tool now, using the instructions below.

  1. Go to http://ejscreen.epa.gov/mapper/
  2. Select the place you would like to view in the upper right box “Find address or place”
  3. Click the menu for “Map Data”
  4. On that drop down menu, select “Add Layer from Web”
  5. A window will pop up, select “ArcGIS Server Web Service (Whole service)”
  6. In the URL box, enter the following URL to add the layer: http://services1.arcgis.com/4ZKi1B1zTblbwgWB/arcgis/rest/services/Park_acres_per_1000_residents_by_census_tract/FeatureServer/0
  7. Click the blue button “Add to Map”
  8. You can add multiple layers to the map using the “Map Data” menu and drop down features.

California must include race, color, and national origin in its own screening and mapping tool, CalEnviroScreen, to comply with these civil rights protections. 

Learn more at cityprojectca.org

Chris Alexakiswater, policy