Release of a new draft of California’s “CalEnviroScreen” is expected before the end of 2012. Being developed by the Office of Environmental Health and Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) with the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) , CalEnviroScreen is a tool to create “scores” for communities based on environmental, health and socioeconomic data, such as asthma rates, low birth weight infants, traffic density, and educational attainment levels. The tool will allow for assessment of disproportionate environmental impacts in disadvantaged communities. The uses of the tool appear to be open-ended at this point, from helping Cal/EPA prioritize its own internal resources for distribution of grants and prioritizing clean up sites, to being a tool that project proponents and local governments may use in land use decisions and in CEQA documents, particularly in a cumulative impacts assessment.
There is great concern that use of the tool in local government land use planning and permitting programs could negate any benefits from CEQA reform, driving economic development away from those communities that are most in need.
A copy of the July 30, 2012 draft can be found here.