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Draft of Michigan's first Environmental Justice screening tool released
March 28, 2022
When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer created Michigan's first Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate, one of the first actions of the office was to begin work on what advocates had requested for many years, the creation of a Michigan-specific screening tool to help identify and address places where residents are disproportionately burdened by environmental hazards.
That ask was fulfilled this month with the release of the draft Michigan Environmental Justice Mapping and Screening Tool (MiEJScreen), which was developed to help inform planning and policy decisions and be a resource for all Michiganders to better understand and address the factors communities face. The creation of the tool was a cooperative effort of the Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate, and the Michigan Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team.
A webinar this week Tuesday, March 29 will help explain how the MiEJScreen was developed and how to use it. Public comment and input on the tool will be accepted through May 16. (Information on the webinar and submitting input below)
"This is a step forward in integrating equity and environmental justice concerns into state government, and better informing decision made by policy makers and regulated entities like industrial facilities," said Regina Strong, environmental justice public advocate. "This gives broad access to relevant data to all Michiganders."
Strong added that EGLE is eager to learn from feedback during the comment period regarding content and functionality of the tool.
MiEJScreen was developed based on methodologies from other state-based tools, including California's CalEnviroScreen and incorporates information from federal tools, including EPA's EJ Screen and the draft Climate and Economic Justice Tool. Research, including a study from the University of Michigan, and stakeholder input also contributed to the more than 2-year development process.
While EGLE and other regulators are still obligated to consider permits within the existing statutory structure, the tool will provide a common set of data to help ensure everyone in our state benefits equitably from our environmental laws and regulations.
The tool can be used to:
- Examine and map cumulative factors to identify communities that may be disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards
- Assist state departments and local regulators with decisions, such as prioritizing resources, identifying areas for additional outreach, guiding policy decisions, prioritizing programs, and planning for the future.
- Help local government inform appropriate and protective siting and zoning practices for business and industry.
- Help characterize communities so that public engagement and participation outreach can be better directed and communicated
- Inform future planning to improve the environment and quality of life for all residents of and visitors to Michigan.
- Provide a resource for the public and stakeholders
EGLE will offer several opportunities to learn about the tool during informational sessions, office hours, and an opportunity to provide official comments. The first of these is a webinar focusing on the background and development and how to use the tool.
Register to attend the MiEJScreen Informational Webinar and Screening Tool Demonstrations on March 29. There will be an afternoon and evening session.
More information on the background and development of the tool and links to register for other opportunities to ask questions and provide comments can be found at Michigan.gov/EnvironmentalJustice.
Public comments on the tool are welcome in any of the following ways by May 16, 2022:
- By email: EGLE-EnvironmentalJustice@Michigan.gov
- By voicemail: 517-284-1400
- In writing to: EGLE Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate
Constitution Hall, P.O. Box 30473, Lansing, MI 48909-7973
- At the public comment opportunities on April 27, 2022.
If you have questions about the tool or how to provide comment, please contact the Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate at EGLE-EnvironmentalJustice@Michigan.gov.
Information about EGLE's environmental justice activities can be found at Michigan.gov/EnvironmentalJustice.
The Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate was created by Gov. Whitmer's Executive Order 2019-06 to serve as an external and internal advocate and catalyst for ensuring environmental justice throughout the state. The Office operates as a Type I agency within EGLE, with a direct line to the governor's office to elevate concerns and coordinate across state government. The Office also works to address and resolve environmental justice concerns and complaints and advance environmental justice and equity in Michigan.