The pollution map

It has long been known that African-Americans and Latinos in California live in low-income communities exposed to the worst environmental pollution. Now the hardest hit areas are also known in sufficient detail to undertake more targeted efforts to respond to the problem.

The new pollution map released by the California Environmental Protection Agencybreaks the state down into over 8,000 census tracts ranked by environmental impact, including water quality, ozone concentration, airborne toxins, and diesel soot.

This map is a key tool for implementation ofS.B. 535, sponsored by Senator Kevin De León, which requires that 25% of state cap and trade revenuesgo to the most environmentally disadvantaged communities “based on geographic, socioeconomic, and environmental hazard criteria.”And at least 10% of these revenues must be invested in projects located within those communities.

Now it is a matter of addressing the high priorities of those communities, achieving measurable results that benefit them, and delivering benefits that outweigh the burdens that fall on those communities.

This year, Governor Brown allocated $250 millionfor this purpose, of a total of $850 million. Now it is time to use this information to start to improve the environmental conditions in those neighborhoods.