In response to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)’s new Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) 1.0 announced today, American Forests Vice President of Urban Forest Policy Joel Pannell released the following statement:

“It’s a new era for CEQ — one where Tree Equity is federally recognized for its impacts on heat islands, air quality and community health. The CEJST introduces a new data indicator to identify nature-deprived communities, marking the first time the federal government has factored in access to trees and green spaces as part of the holistic health of communities and as a critical factor in advancing environmental justice.

“With extreme heat and flooding gripping our cities, this much-needed tool is essential to equitably distribute the historic forest-climate funding passed by Congress and will support underserved communities seeking resources and funding to reforest their communities, create new family-sustaining jobs in urban forestry, and bolster local economies.

“This interactive online resource goes hand-in-hand with American Forests’ Tree Equity Score, helping communities assess the health and climate impacts of insufficient tree canopy and facilitate data-driven decision making to reverse these trends. The CEJST is a strong step forward for CEQ, Tree Equity and environmental justice. We commend the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to Justice40 and for advancing tools that will equitably fund and empower communities to restore America’s urban and community tree canopy.”