EPA Revises Environmental Justice Plan After Criticism

Date: June 6, 2016

Source: US EPA

The EPA has revised its Environmental Justice agenda (EJ 2020) and is seeking additional public comment on what it calls a "final draft," after environmentalists last year criticized the plan for having little connection to the 1965 Civil Rights Act. EPA's EJ chief, Charles Lee, describes the new version as "a strategy that envisions an EPA that integrates environmental justice into everything we do." EPA's latest draft plan places an emphasis on metrics and selects four "significant national [EJ] challenges," including lead, drinking water, air quality and hazardous waste sites. It says it will attack each in a two-phase approach of acting and then assessing the outcomes. On hazardous waste sites, the draft plan says that EPA seeks to reduce human exposure to their contaminants, emphasizing reducing the impact on EJ communities who are often most vulnerable to these sites.

The environmental group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) released its comments publicly last year, harshly criticizing the framework for its non-rulemaking nature and its lack of linkage to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which PEER argues is the legal teeth behind any EJ effort.

To learn more, visit: https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/ej-2020-action-agenda.

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