Next Steps and Opportunities for Justice40

This summer, on the heels of the upswell of state energy and environmental justice policies passed over the last two years, the Biden Administration launched the Justice40 Initiative, a promising program aimed to improve environmental justice. According to the White House press release, Justice40 promises “to deliver at least 40 percent of the overall benefits from Federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities.”

At Synapse, our team of energy experts is excited to contribute to this important initiative and reflect it in our state energy planning efforts. But how do we calculate benefits to disadvantaged communities? To calculate the percentage of benefits from federal investments that go to disadvantaged communities, we need to answer the following questions:

  • How do we define a disadvantaged community?
  • How do we define federal investments in climate and clean energy?
  • What are the benefits of these investments?
  • How do we quantify these benefits?      

Federal agencies, states, and municipalities have historically answered these questions differently, if at all, making analysis and comparison across jurisdictions challenging. And a lack of available data will result in gaps to be addressed by researchers over time. The Administration’s interim guidance gives agencies between 60 and 150 days to provide answers to some of these questions. Other questions may remain unanswered or will require further research to answer.

For many years, Synapse has been working across the country to advance equity in energy system decision-making. As a national leader in energy-system-planning benefit-cost analysis, Synapse looks forward to working with federal institutions, state agencies, local governments, communities, energy justice organizations, environmental groups, and other non-governmental organizations to dive into the questions presented by the Justice40 initiative. We are committed to providing meaningful data and analysis to support important dialogue and efforts towards a more equitable distribution of energy system benefits for disadvantaged communities.

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter for future updates and visit our Energy Justice page for examples of our work in the field, including projects in West Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, and Mississippi.