Counties gain access to updated environmental justice tool layering environmental health data with census information to see full intersection of socio-economic status and infrastructure.
In June 2022, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) launched an online tool, utilizing geographic information system (GIS) mapping software, to help users identify potential locations of environmental contamination and areas of focus for environmental justice. That tool has been updated, as of this week, to include the census track data to support the definition of “overburdened” as outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency.
According to the MDE website, the tool is intended to enhance agency compliance, oversight, and monitoring activities, and to enhance communication and outreach in significant permitting activities in overburdened or underserved communities. Counties will not only be able to filter state environmental safety and health information across their jurisdictions, but also have an option to integrate their own resources and data. The ability to layer multiple state and local factors over a region will help counties and state officials make informed decisions by understanding how local populations are being disproportionately affected by development.