There’s a new method of ranking California communities in regards to pollution, and some feel it could have a great impact on the state. The California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool rates ZIP codes based on a wide range of environmental, health and socioeconomic data, such as air pollution, traffic, amount of pesticides used, the number of dump sites, rates of cancer and asthma, and numbers of elderly and children.
While shedding light on how pollution is affecting communities seems like a good idea on paper, several businesses are raising concerns that this will lead to a growing disparity between the advantaged and disadvantaged areas in the state. A ZIP code with an unfavorable ranking could lead to more industry regulation, which would deter business growth and lead to a loss of jobs.
But those who support the new procedure say it will finally begin to bridge the gap between the communities which are negatively affected by pollution and don’t have the means, resources or representation to fight it.
So, who is right here? Will jobs be lost? Or is that beside the point if where you work is heavily polluted anyway? How will this tool be implemented? Can it be improved upon?
Arsenio Mataka, Assistant Secretary for Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs, California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal-EPA)
Gayle Covey, Executive Director, San Bernardino County Farm Bureau