The Swamp Stomp
Volume 16, Issue 28
Historically was limited to NEPA type projects funded by the US government. However, under NEPA Environmental Justice (EJ) can be brought in as part of any federal environmental government action. This includes Nationwide permits. The title of the press release sort of gives away the intent. Focus on the word “all.” The following is from the EPA press release.
Jun 7, 2016
Incorporating Environmental Justice into all Regulatory Efforts
By Charles Lee and Kelly Maguire
Today marks an important moment in environmental justice history. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its first-ever Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis (EJ Technical Guidance). This guidance represents a significant step towards ensuring the impacts of EPA regulations on vulnerable populations are understood and considered in the decision-making process.
The EJ Technical Guidance improves our ability to perform some of the most important work we do. Better integrating environmental justice in EPA’s core regulatory function is essential to ensure that all Americans, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or income level, have access to clean water, clean air, and healthy communities. Technical guidance, reinforced by the meaningful involvement of the public and key stakeholders, helps to ensure that all communities are protected from pollution as the result of EPA rules.
So how does it work? The EJ Technical Guidance equips EPA rule writers with key analytic principles and definitions, best practices, and technical questions to consider potential impacts on communities with environmental justice concerns. Each component helps us take complex issues and think about them in a consistent, step-by-step approach, while ensuring that sound science is the foundation of EPA’s decision-making process.
In fact, the Science Advisory Board (SAB) states “the [EJ Technical Guidance] represents major philosophical and communication steps for the agency and EJ communities with a major goal of the guidance being to incorporate EJ analysis into the framework of regulatory analysis.” For the first time, EPA analysts will have a coherent set of methods to use when assessing potential environmental justice concerns in national rules.
The finalization of the EJ Technical Guidance realizes the last commitment made under Plan EJ 2014, and sets the stage to deliver on key aspects of the draft EJ 2020 Action Agenda, EPA’s next environmental justice strategic plan for 2016-2020. Through EJ 2020, EPA will use the EJ Technical Guidance to ensure that environmental justice is appropriately analyzed, considered and addressed in EPA rules with potential EJ concerns. This will be accomplished by implementing guidance, training, monitoring, evaluation and community involvement, including periodic assessments of how EPA is conducting EJ analyses. A hallmark of EJ 2020’s approach will be continuous learning and improvement. However, we know we still have much work to do, including development of advanced methods and guidance for analyzing cumulative risks and impacts.
We are excited about this step in the long journey towards ensuring environmental justice for all communities. We fully agree with the Administrator, when she emphasized that “by improving our ability to conduct strong, consistent analysis of environmental justice in regulatory actions, the EJ Technical Guidance marks a major milestone in our continued efforts to ensure environmental justice is considered in all aspects of the agency’s work. Looking ahead, it offers an important advance that will bring better protection to America’s vulnerable populations for years to come.”
You can find more about this new policy by going to the EPA EJ site.