The Law Center offered feedback on the draft of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Plan EJ 2014, released for public comment. The plan, which pledges to incorporate environmental justice in all of the EPA’s operations, is an encouraging sign of the agency’s renewed commitment to environmental justice.
Unfortunately, admirable intentions are as far as the plan goes.
The plan offers few specific steps the EPA will take in the five focus areas it identifies, and it provides no concrete, measurable standards by which to assess the agency’s success in reaching its goals. Along with calling for a more specific plan of action, the Law Center calls on the EPA to consider aggregate environmental and health impacts on specific communities in its permitting process, rather than focusing on individual permit limitations – an essential change that would make permitting a powerful tool for protecting disproportionately affected communities.
The Law Center also recommends that the EPA simplify its guidelines for incorporating environmental justice into its rulemaking process, which are so convoluted that they impede the creation of protections for environmental justice communities.