Date: July 26, 2010
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The US EPA has outlined a plan for placing special emphasis on the health of low-income and minority populations when drafting regulations, otherwise known as environmental justice. Under interim guidance, EPA staff would reach out to people in the affected communities early in the process, building awareness and seeking community sentiment. "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 Jackson. "This plan is part of my ongoing commitment to give all communities a seat at the decision-making table." However, businesses worry that the result may hamper economic activity, inadvertently costing jobs at a time of already high unemployment. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned that while it "supports the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people in the regulatory process regardless of race, ethnicity or income," an environmental justice program "introduces intolerable uncertainty into the regulatory process" and "ultimately prevents economic development in the most disadvantaged communities in the nation."
July 26, 2010
EPA Releases Rulemaking Guidance on Environmental Justice
WASHINGTON -- 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 disproportionally impacted by pollution.
"Historically, the low-income and minority communities that carry the greatest environmental burdens haven't had a voice in our policy development or rulemaking. We want to expand the conversation to the places where EPA's work can make a real difference for health and the economy," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "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.
To view the interim guidance and submit feedback: www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/resources/policy/ej-rulemaking.html
More information on environmental justice: www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice
Dave Ryan (News Media Only)