ARB Research Seminar

This page updated June 2, 2015

Environmental Justice Screening Method (EJSM) Webinar

Photo of James Sadd

James Sadd

Photo of Madeline Wander

Madeline Wander

James Sadd, Ph.D., Department of Geology, Occidental College; Madeline Wander, M.U.R.P., Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE), University of Southern California

May 13, 2015
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA

Research Project


Over the last seven years, the Air Resources Board has supported the development of the Environmental Justice Screening Method referred to as EJSM--a mapping method that identifies communities in California facing the highest cumulative impact of environmental hazards, health risks, and social stressors.

Starting in 2007, Rachel Morello-Frosch of UC Berkeley, Manuel Pastor of USC, and James Sadd of Occidental College worked directly with communities to develop the EJSM. Now in its third iteration, it is a relatively simple, flexible, and transparent mapping and scoring procedure to examine cumulative impacts and social vulnerability within California regions for use in citing, zoning, and policy development processes as well as to identify overburdened communities.

An initial version of it was created for the California Air Resources Board and assesses cumulative impact along three dimensions: hazard proximity and land use, air pollution exposure and estimated health risk, and social and health vulnerability. In recent years, the EJSM has incorporated a fourth layer--climate change vulnerability--as well as expanded coverage to all of California. Continued work on the EJSM seeks to update the results with new releases of underlying indicators, expand coverage to other states, and incorporate new indicators including water quality and system-level vulnerability.

Since its creation, the EJSM has become part of a growing family of screening methods. In California, the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment created CalEnviroScreen 2.0 (CES)--the tool being used to identify ""disadvantaged communities" in which 25 percent of California's cap-and-trade revenue will be invested pursuant of SB 535--and UC Davis Center for Regional Change developed the Cumulative Environmental Vulnerabilities Assessment (CEVA) focusing on the San Joaquin Valley.

In this webinar Jim Sadd and Madeline Wander of USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) highlighted recent methodological improvements and results and discussed EJSM's implications. They also compared EJSM results using regional and statewide scoring approaches as well as compared the EJSM to alternative screening methods like the CalEnviroScreen 2.0 and CEVA.

Speaker Biography

James L. Sadd, Ph.D., is a Professor of Environmental Science at Occidental College, Los Angeles, California. Over the past 15 years, his research has focused on the quantitative and spatial evaluation of questions related to environmental exposure, health risk, and environmental justice primarily through the use of spatial analysis using geographic information systems and remote sensing tools. He recently served the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a member of the Nationally Consistent Environmental Justice Screening Approaches Work Group, and is currently serving on the EPA Science Advisory Board Environmental Justice Technical Guidance Review Panel. He has worked extensively with community-based organizations throughout California to pioneer a community-based participatory research model called "ground truthing" to quantitatively ground truth some of the secondary data sources on which screening tools are based.

Madeline Wander, M.U.R.P., is a data analyst at the University of Southern California PERE (directed by Manuel Pastor). She holds a Master's degree in Urban & Regional Planning from UCLA and a BA in Urban & Environmental Policy from Occidental College. She conducts qualitative and quantitative research and her work focuses on environmental justice, transportation equity, and social-movement building.

For a complete listing of the ARB Research Seminars and the related documentation
for the seminars please view the Main Seminars web page