New Interactive Maps and Resources Empower the Public and Policymakers to Act on Environmental Justice

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July 29, 2021Contact InformationEPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (July 29, 2021) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing a new web resource with interactive maps and supporting materials that combine information on air pollution emitted by fossil fuel-fired power plants with key demographical data on nearby communities. The Power Plants and Neighboring Communities initiative advances the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to environmental justice by empowering the public and policymakers with information and tools to better understand the disproportionate impacts of air pollution in overburdened communities.

“We know air pollution affects some people worse than others. Achieving environmental justice starts with improving our understanding of the impacts of air pollution, especially in overburdened and historically underserved communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “This web resource equips users with actionable, science-based data on air quality in communities near power plants, many of whom are suffering the worst from pollution.”

The mapping tool improves access to data on power plant emissions and can increase understanding of how the power sector affects the air quality and environmental health of surrounding communities. By highlighting what groups of people might be impacted and how, the Power Plants and Neighboring Communities webpage provides state and local policymakers with information that can be used to protect their most vulnerable populations.

The Power Plants and Neighboring Communities webpage includes explanatory text, supplemental graphs and maps, and data sets. The supplemental graphs compare six key population groups of the communities near power plants to the rest of the nation. The groups tracked are the following: low-income; people of color; those with less than high school education; people who are linguistically isolated; children under 5; and those over age 64.

To explore the webpage, visit https://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/power-plants-and-neighboring-communities

Background:

The webpage was created by combining power plant data collected by EPA and the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration with demographic data from EPA’s EJSCREEN.

For each of the over 3,400 fossil fuel-fired power plants, EPA summarized population characteristics for the neighboring communities located within three miles of the plant and presented the information through interactive maps and graphs, as well as through a downloadable spreadsheet. The three-mile radius is based on use in multiple studies analyzing environmental justice and has been deemed to be an appropriate starting place to determine the population make-up of the neighboring communities which may be more significantly affected.

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