Environmental Justice

AAs defined by EPA, Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

What Is Meant By Fair Treatment And Meaningful Involvement?

Fair treatment means that no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies

Meaningful Involvement:
  • People have an opportunity to participate in decisions about activities that may affect their environment and/or health;
  • The public’s contribution can influence the regulatory agency’s decision;
  • Their concerns will be considered in the decision making process; and
  • The decision makers seek out and facilitate the involvement of those potentially affected
EJ 2020 Action Agenda
Chapter 6: States and Local Government

EJ 2020 – The EJ 2020 Action Agenda (EJ 2020) is the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) strategic Plan for environmental justice for 2016-2020. EJ 2020 will build on the foundation established by EPA’s previous plan, Plan EJ 2014, as well as decades of significant environmental justice practice by the Agency, communities and our partners.

Vision – By 2020, we envision an EPA that integrates environmental justice into everything we do, cultivates strong partnerships to improve on-the-ground results, and charts a path forward for achieving better environmental outcomes and reducing disparities in the nation’s most overburdened communities. Achieving this vision will help make our vulnerable, environmentally burdened, and economically disadvantaged communities healthier, cleaner and more sustainable places in which to live, work, play and learn.

Goals & Key Areas – We will achieve this vision through three goals. Eight priority areas, and four national challenges:

  • Goal I: Deepen environmental justice practice with EPA programs to improve the health and environment of overburdened communities.
    Priority areas: Rulemaking, Permitting, compliance and Enforcement, Science
  • Goal II: Work with partners to expand our positive impact within overburdened community Priority areas: States and Local Governments, Federal Agencies, Community-Based work, Tribes and Indigenous Peoples
  • Goal III: Demonstrate progress on significant national environmental justice challenges.
    Challenges: Lead Disparities, Drinking Water, Air Quality, Hazardous Waste Sites
States and Local Governments Chapter

Co-Leads– Office of Water (OW) and Region5

Overview – EPA will work with states and local governments to develop and implement a phased approach to building on-the-ground collaborations, identifying best practices, supporting peer-to-peer learning, and fostering cross-program planning, and establish shared expectations through Performance Partnership Agreements and other planning and accountability mechanisms.

Objective – Achieve significant environmental results and meaningful public participation in the nation’s most overburdened and vulnerable communities in partnership with state and local co-regulators; and build the joint capacity of EPA state and local co-regulators to address environmental justice concerns in our day-to-day program work.

Background – Expanding EPA’s work with our state partners is an important area of additional emphasis for EPA’s environmental justice efforts that reflects long-standing aspirations of environmental justice stakeholders and recognizes that many states have developed effective tools to advance environmental justice. We can collectively expand our positive impact in overburdened communities by making our larger environmental enterprise more effective.

Framework – The strategies and actions are based on three main assumptions:

Shared Values – Focusing on shared values rather than environmental justice terminology. Environmental regulators at all levels of government respond at all levels of government respond to “fair treatment” and “meaningful involvement” based on shared values, despite differences in how they describe environmental justice principles.

Joint Governance – Applying the principles of joint governance that have been established through the E-Enterprise initiative to improve environmental results and enhance services to the regulated community and the public by making government more efficient and effective.

Approaches – There are a range of possible approaches available to EPA to implement strategies. In general EPA will utilize a phased approach to:

Assess needs and strengths – Through mutual learning and collaborative partnerships, identify best practices and where more capacity is needed in order to adequately address environmental justice concerns.

Meet needs and build on strengths – Disseminate best practices and further develop our program’s tools and approaches, as well as take independent action to address environmental justice concerns where needed.

Establish expectations and accountability – Through joint planning, and other mechanisms, establish a level playing field of expectations, roles, and responsibilities for identifying and responding to environmental justice concerns.

Strategies – There are four strategies, along with supporting actions:

Strategies Actions
  • Works with co-regulators to reduce adverse impacts and promote meaningful involvement in overburdened communities through our regulatory work.
  • Collaborate with states and local governments in specific projects communities through community-based approaches.
  • Engage with states in joint planning to pursue compliance and enforcement activities in the nation’s most overburdened and vulnerable areas and leverage limited resources.
  • Work with states and local governments to advance the analytic tools that support action on EJ concerns.
  • Support peer-to-peer learning to identify best practices on how to address environmental justice concerns.
  • Work with the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) and other state and local associations of regulatory agencies to identify and promote best practices, tools approaches and resources for reducing adverse impacts and promoting meaningful involvement.
  • Produce and disseminate information on best practices that advance environmental justice.
  • Foster cross-program discussion, planning and actions to build program capacity.
  • Ensure that successes and challenges related to adverse impacts and meaningful involvement are addressed in ongoing high-level meetings between EPA and state and local co-regulators.
  • Conduct joint planning to establish commitments for work on priorities and projects. Identify and conduct training and capacity building activities.
  • Identify opportunities for joint research efforts.
  • Work with co-regulators to establish shared program expectation and performance criteria and hold ourselves accountable to drive improvements where needed.
  • Establish process for developing shared expectations and measuring progress.
  • Incorporate shared expectations when evaluating program performance.

Measures – EPA will report on measures in the annual EJ 2020 progress report. Measures will include offering EJ training to all appropriate state and local agencies, and discussing possible joint projects and/or priorities to advance environmental to advance environmental justice in 100% of PPA/PPG or other joint planning meetings. EPA will also collaborate with states and local co-regulators to develop measures of progress regarding quantitative and quantitative benefits resulting from joint efforts with co-regulators as outlined in other chapters, as well as achievements in developing and implementing tools and approaches.

For more information on EJ 2020 please visit www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/ej-2020-action

EPA Launches New Guide for Long-Term Stormwater Planning, Names Five Pilot Communities

Tricia Lynn October 27, 2016

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a package of tools to help communities plan long-term strategies for managing stormwater pollution. EPA’s tools promote the use of flexible solutions that spur economic growth, stimulate infrastructure investments, and help compliance with environmental requirements.

EPA has released a step-by-step guide to help communities develop long-term stormwater plans, a web-based toolkit for the planning process, and technical assistance for five communities to develop plans as national models. This approach was built on input from states, communities, industry, academia, and nonprofits.

“When communities link the timing and implementation of stormwater projects with broader planning activities, they can reduce costs and support more sustainable local development,” says Joel Beauvais, deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Water. “As stormwater increasingly threatens public health and the environment, EPA can help communities integrate stormwater management with broader plans for growing their economies, investing in critical infrastructure and meeting their water quality objectives.”

Initially the draft guide will be utilized by five communities selected for $150,000 each in technical assistance to develop long-term stormwater management plans:

  • Burlington, Iowa
  • Chester, Pennsylvania
  • Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  • Rochester, New Hampshire
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico

These communities will also be the beta testers for EPA’s web-based toolkit, which will be refined and released more broadly next year.

Each year billions of gallons of runoff laden with trash, nutrients, metals, and other pollutants flow into waterways. Stormwater runoff is one of the fastest growing sources of pollution across the country and it can overwhelm wastewater systems and overflow sewers. Many cities have utilized green infrastructure as part of a comprehensive, long-term approach to managing stormwater. Communities are finding the benefits from such approaches go well beyond helping to meet regulatory requirements and actually turn hazards into opportunities. Comprehensive, long-term plans can guide smart investments by tying together multiple community objectives like street improvements, outdoor open spaces, greenways or recreation areas, as well as community revitalization.

For more information: https://www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater-planning

For more information

Office of Community Engagement

Melissa McGee-Collier
Director/Small Business Ombudsman
Cassandra Johnson
Public Involvement Coordinator