Last week, WQP, Water & Wastes Digest (W&WD), and Storm Water Solutions (SWS) editors traveled to Houston to speak with water...
Agency plans to expand conversations to overburdened communities, where its work can make significant difference for health and economy
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing an interim guidance document to help agency staff incorporate environmental justice into the agency’s rulemaking process. The rulemaking guidance is an important and positive step toward meeting EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priority to work for environmental justice and protect the health and safety of communities who have been disproportionately impacted by pollution, according to EPA.
"Historically, the low-income and minority communities that carry the greatest environmental burdens haven't had a voice in our policy development or rulemaking,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "We want to expand the conversation to the places where EPA's work can make a real difference for health and the economy. This plan is part of my ongoing commitment to give all communities a seat at the decision-making table. Making environmental justice a consideration in our rulemaking changes both the perception and practice of how we work with overburdened communities, and opens this conversation up to new voices."
The document, Interim Guidance on Considering Environmental Justice During the Development of an Action, seeks to advance environmental justice for low-income, minority and indigenous communities and tribal governments who have been historically underrepresented in the regulatory decision-making process.
The guidance also outlines the multiple steps that every EPA program office can take to incorporate the needs of overburdened neighborhoods into the agency’s decision-making, scientific analysis, and rule development. EPA staff is encouraged to become familiar with environmental justice concepts and the many ways they should inform agency decision-making.
EPA is seeking public feedback on how to best implement and improve the guide for agency staff to further advance efforts toward environmental justice.