EPA Releases Rulemaking Guidance on Environmental Justice

Although “Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-lncome Populations” has been in effect since 1994, the US Environmental Protection Agency has only now released new rulemaking guidance on environmental justice.   This is good step forward, but it fails to provide enough “teeth” in the law for communities to stop destructive and environmentally unjust actions by the government.  The military is the worst polluter and may have the worst environmental justice record.  But the military has been given broad exemptions from many of the laws that are meant to protect human health and the environment.  Nevertheless, this guidance gives reinforcement to the issues that communities have often raised in Hawai’i during the preparation of environmental impact statements:  lack of meaningful public participation in decision making, lack of meaningful alternatives, lack of environmental justice analysis, and a lack of cumulative impacts analysis.


From: U.S. EPA <usaepa@govdelivery.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2010 12:13:12 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Compliance and Enforcement News Release (HQ): EPA Releases Rulemaking Guidance on Environmental Justice


Dave Ryan (News Media Only)





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: http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/resources/policy/ej-rulemaking.html

More information on environmental justice: http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/


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