Chapter 7: Environmental justice in the US: looking ahead
On September 14, 2011, the EPA announced the release of Plan EJ 2014, a three-year comprehensive plan to advance EJ efforts in nine areas, including permitting, rulemaking, and enforcement. Plan EJ 2014 is designed to serve as a roadmap that will help the EPA integrate EJ into the agency’s programs, policies, and activities. The plan highlights cross-agency focus areas, tools development, and program initiatives as three essential elements of an effort to systematically incorporate EJ concerns across the EPA’s day-to-day activities. The goals of the plan are to protect health in communities overburdened by pollution, to empower communities to take action to improve their health and environment, and to establish partnerships with the local, tribal, state, and federal organizations to achieve healthy and sustainable communities.1 In developing the plan, the EPA has acknowledged that practices to ensure early and effective public participation in the permitting process have not been widely adopted, and that significant challenges remain for incorporating EJ into permitting protocols, particularly as EJ concerns relate to cumulative/multi-media impacts. The general permitting goal of the plan is to ensure that EJ concerns are given full consideration in the decision to approve and condition a permit when the permit is issued under existing federal environmental law. As such, one objective of the plan is to enable overburdened communities2 to have full and meaningful access to the permitting process. To enhance EJ in permitting, the EPA has developed a set of draft tools to increase the meaningful participation of EJ communities.
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