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Michigan wants your suggestions to improve a new online environmental justice mapping tool

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Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate
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Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

The State of Michigan wants feedback on a new interactive tool that scores communities on environmental justice factors. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy's Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate has been working on this screening tool for years. Referred to as the MiEJScreen, it identifies communities disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards.

For the most part, the regions impacted the most are in the more populated areas of the state.

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Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate
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Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy
Mapping showing environmental justice scores for southeast Michigan.

“The southern part of the Lower Peninsula is more densely populated, has more industry, has more factors that could impact, doesn't mean there aren't factors in, you know, the upper part of the Lower Peninsula or in the U.P. It just means that when you look at everything together, you're going to see more density (of environmental hazards) where there is more dense population,” said Regina Strong, Environmental Justice Public Advocate for the state.

In a release, EGLE stated that the interactive mapping tool can identify communities that might be disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards.

The data for each factor can be viewed individually or combined to see how communities experiences differ. A census tract with a high score is one that experiences higher "pollution burden and vulnerability" than census tracts with low scores.

You can see what kind of environmental exposure risks there are, where there are concentrations health issues such as asthma or high blood lead levels, and how other socioeconomic factors such as poverty, race, and age contribute to environmental impacts.

MiEJScreen Score.JPG
Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate
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Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

“This is the result of things that advocates have asked for for years. So, what is the feedback on this, you know, draft? Are there other things that we’re missing,” Strong said.

So the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy is taking public comment on the environmental justice screening tool through the middle of May.

“There could be other things that people have thought about and want to see. So, that’s absolutely why, you know, we want to put it out there,” Strong said.

You can find out how to leave comment here.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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