Justice40 row pic 1

“When you hear President Biden say he wants to Build a Better America… he means a more equitable America. A more inclusive America. A more just America. And we’ll build it with clean energy.”

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm

What is Justice40?

During his first week in office, President Joe Biden issued Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. Section 223 of EO 14008 established the Justice40 Initiative, which directs 40% of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments – including investments in clean energy and energy efficiency; clean transit; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce development; the remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and the development of clean water infrastructure – to flow to disadvantaged communities (DACs).

To learn more, visit the White House Justice40 Initiative website here.

How is DOE Implementing Justice40?

On July 20, 2021, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released Interim Implementation Guidance for the Justice40 Initiative, M-21-28 (OMB Interim Guidance), which has guided the Department’s work on Justice40 along with relevant statutory authorities.

Based on stakeholder engagement, priorities identified by White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC), and additional research, the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity identified eight policy priorities to guide DOE’s implementation of Justice40:

  1. Decrease energy burden in disadvantaged communities (DACs).
  2. Decrease environmental exposure and burdens for DACs
  3. Increase parity in clean energy technology (e.g., solar, storage) access and adoption in DACs.
  4. Increase access to low-cost capital in DACs.
  5. Increase clean energy enterprise creation and contracting (MBE/DBE) in DACs.
  6. Increase clean energy jobs, job pipeline, and job training for individuals from DACs.
  7. Increase energy resiliency in DACs.
  8. Increase energy democracy in DACs.

How is DOE Defining Disadvantaged Communities (DACs)?

A unified, comprehensive definition of disadvantaged communities (DACs) is important for determining where benefits of climate and energy investments are or are not currently accruing, and for determining eligibility for future Justice40-related investments.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB)'s Interim Guidance defines a community as either:

  1. A group of individuals living in geographic proximity (such as a census tract)
  2. A geographically dispersed set of individuals (such as migrant workers or Native Americans), where either type of group experiences common conditions.

The DOE working definition for DACs was developed by an internal and external collaborative research process. Balancing both data reliability and locally specific information, DOE selected census tracts for the spatial unit used to define a geographic community. In many locations, a census tract is akin to a neighborhood. In more rural locations, a census tract may comprise an entire county.

DOE's working definition of disadvantaged is based on cumulative burden and includes data for thirty-six (36) burden indicators collected at the census tract level. These burden indicators can be grouped across the following four categories (the numbers in parenthesis are the number of indicators in each category):

  • Fossil Dependence (2)
  • Energy Burden (5)
  • Environmental and Climate Hazards (10)
  • Socio-economic Vulnerabilities (19)

The 36 burden indicators were selected based on a review of ten existing indices of disadvantage, recommendations from the WHEJAC, feedback from other jurisdictions designing similar energy justice programs (e.g., New York, California), stakeholder outreach, and interagency collaboration on the development of eligibility criteria for DOE’s Communities Local Energy Action Program (Communities LEAP).

View the 36 Burden Indicators and Data Sources for DOE Working Definition of Disadvantaged Communities

Variable

Description

Source

>30 min commute

Percent of total population with a drive time to employment greater than or equal to 30 minutes

(U.S. Census Bureau, 2019)

No Vehicle

Percent of total population with no vehicle(s) available

(U.S. Census Bureau, 2019)

Uninsured

Percent of population without health insurance

(U.S. Census Bureau, 2019)

Disability

Percent of the non-institutionalized population with any disability

(U.S. Census Bureau, 2019)

Unemployment

Percent of civilian labor force reported as unemployed

(U.S. Census Bureau, 2019)

Low Income

Percent of total population reported at or below area median income

(U.S. Census Bureau, 2019)

Incomplete Plumbing

Percent of occupied housing units without complete plumbing

(U.S. Census Bureau, 2019)

Single Parent

Proportion of family households with children under age 18 with only one parent

(U.S. Census Bureau, 2019)

Mobile Home

Percent of total population in mobile homes

(U.S. Census Bureau, 2019)

Non-grid-connected heating fuel

Percent of households that use a fuel other than grid-connected gas or electricity or solar energy as their main heat source

(U.S. Census Bureau, 2019)

Population 65 and older

Percent of total population over age 64

(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2021)

Homes Built Before 1960

Percent of housing units built before 1960 (lead paint indicator)

(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2021)

Diesel

EJ Index for Diesel particulate matter level in air

(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2021)

Cancer

EJ Index for Air toxics cancer risk

(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2021)

Traffic Proximity

EJ Index for Traffic proximity and volume

(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2021)

Water Discharge

EJ Index for Indicator for major direct dischargers to water

(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2021)

NPL Proximity

EJ Index for Proximity to National Priorities List (NPL) sites

(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2021)

RMP Proximity

EJ Index for Proximity to Risk Management Plan (RMP) facilities

(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2021)

TSDF Proximity

EJ Index for Proximity to Treatment Storage and Disposal (TSDF) facilities

(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2021)

PM2.5

EJ Index for PM2.5 level in air

(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2021)

Less HS Education

Percent of total population, age 25 and older, whose reported education is short of a high school diploma

(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2021)

Linguistic Isolation

Percent of households living in linguistically isolated households. A household in which all members age 14 years and over speak a non-English language and also speak English less than "very well" (have difficulty with English) is linguistically isolated.

(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2021)

Parks

Negative count of parks per census tract

(Esri, 2019)

Transportation Burden

Transportation Costs % Income for the Regional Typical Household

(Center for Neighborhood Technology, 2017)

Renters

Proportion of occupied housing units not occupied by property owners

(Center for Neighborhood Technology, 2017)

Housing Costs

Housing Costs % Income for the Regional Typical Household

(Center for Neighborhood Technology, 2017)

Job Access

Reciprocal of Job Access Score (0-10)

(Center for Neighborhood Technology, 2017)

Fossil energy employment

Percent of total civilian jobs in the fossil energy sector

(Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, 2021)

Coal employment

Percent of total civilian jobs in the coal sector

(Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, 2021)

Food Desert

Share of neighborhood without access to affordable or good-quality fresh food (Percentage who live within 1/2 mile (urban) or 10 miles (rural) of supermarket

(“USDA ERS - Food Access Research Atlas,” 2021)

Internet Access

Percent of Households with No Internet Access

(U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 2021)

Homelessness

Representative of homeless population; calculated using total number of Sheltered and Unsheltered Population per sq. km

(U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2019)

Energy Burden

Annual average energy burden based on average annual housing energy costs divided by the average annual household income

(U.S. Department of Energy, 2018)

Outage Events

Number of power outage events that occurred for all census tracts in each county from 2017-2020

(U.S. Department of Energy Office of Cybersecurity Energy Security and Emergency Response, 2021)

Outage Duration

Average duration of power outage events (in minutes) that occurred for all census tracts in each county from 2017-2020

(U.S. Department of Energy Office of Cybersecurity Energy Security and Emergency Response, 2021)

Climate Hazards

Expected annual loss of life (fatalities and injuries) from 18 climate hazards

(U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2021)

Data Sources

  1. U.S. Census Bureau. (2019). American Community Survey (ACS) 5 Year Estimates 2015-2019.
  2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2021). EJSCREEN: Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool. Retrieved May 5, 2021, from https://www.epa.gov/ejscreen
  3. Esri. (2019). USA Parks. Retrieved from https://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=578968f975774d3fab79fe56c8c90941
  4. Center for Neighborhood Technology. (2017). H + T Index Methods.
  5. Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization. (2021). Initial Report to the President on Empowering Workers Through Revitalizing Energy Communities. (April).
  6. USDA ERS - Food Access Research Atlas. (2021). Retrieved January 6, 2022, from https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-access-research-atlas/
  7. U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration. (2021). Indicators of Broadband Need. Retrieved from https://broadbandusa.ntia.doc.gov/resources/data-and-mapping
  8. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2019). Continuum of Care GIS Tools. Retrieved January 6, 2022, from https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/coc/gis-tools/
  9. U.S. Department of Energy. (2018). Low-Income Energy Affordability Data (LEAD) Tool. Retrieved January 6, 2022, from /eere/slsc/low-income-energy-affordability-data-lead-tool
  10. U.S. Department of Energy Office of Cybersecurity Energy Security and Emergency Response. (2021). Electric Disturbance Events (Form OE-417) Annual Summaries.
  11. U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2021). National Risk Index. Retrieved January 6, 2022, from https://hazards.fema.gov/nri/

To identify the census tracts that could be categorized as a DAC, we processed data in four main steps:

  1. Calculate Burden Indicator Percentiles. For each census tract, we calculated the percentile values for each of the 36 burden indicators.
  2. Calculate Cumulative Burden Score. We summed the percentiles across the indicators to create a score for each tract. Each indicator received equal weight. The final scores for each census tract could range from 0 to 36, where 36 would represent the greatest disadvantage.
  3. Select 20% Most Burdened Census Tracts in Each State. Based on the score, we selected the top 20 percent of census tracts in each state. This ensured that every state was represented.
  4. Prioritize High-Poverty Census Tracts. To ensure wealthier locations were not inadvertently included, DAC eligibility was further restricted based on income. A census tract selected in step 3 was categorized as a DAC if at least 30% of households:
    1. are at or below 200% of Federal Poverty Level and/or
    2. are considered low-income households as defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

In sum: To be considered a DAC, a census tract must rank in the 80th percentile of the cumulative sum of the 36 burden indicators and have at least 30% of households classified as low-income.

Nationwide, 13,581 census tracts were identified as DACs using this methodology (18.6% of 73,056 total U.S. census tracts). Additionally, federally recognized tribal lands and U.S. territories, in their entirety, are categorized as DACs in accordance with OMB's Interim Guidance “common conditions” definition of community.

Tribal lands are defined from census boundaries for American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian lands (U.S. Census Bureau, 2021). U.S. territories include Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, Virgin Islands, and Northern Marianas (U.S. Census Bureau, 2019).

Where are Disadvantaged Communities Located?

The Disadvantaged Communities Reporter is DOE’s mapping tool intended to allow users to explore and produce reports on the census tracts DOE has categorized as DACs. The tool shows census tracts categorized as DACs in blue and federally recognized tribal lands and U.S. territories in green. The left panel enables a location search by either common geographies (zip, city county), tract number (GEOID), tribal name, or territory name. The left display shows the top 10 burden indicators for the selected census tract and the report shows values for all 36 burden indicators for the selected census tract. Additional information for federally recognized tribal lands and U.S. territories is forthcoming.
 

Visit the Disadvantaged Communities Reporter here.

The geospatial data and an excel spreadsheet of the underlying data are available below.

Download the DACs Geospatial Data Here
Download the DACs Excel Spreadsheet Here 
 

What is the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool?

The Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST), a new tool by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), aims to help Federal agencies identify DACs as part of the Justice40 Initiative.

While CEJST is still in BETA, DOE is using its Working Definition of DACs and the Disadvantaged Communities Reporter, consistent with OMB Interim Guidance and relevant statutory authorities. DOE will use this working DACs definition to ask applicants to Justice40-covered programs to identify how their projects benefit DACs.

Additional Resources

If you have additional questions or comments, please contact us at energyjustice@hq.doe.gov.