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EPA Announces New Environmental Justice Steps

On April 7, 2021, EPA Administrator Regan announced a new series of steps that EPA will be taking to promote environmental justice, consistent with the commitment of the Biden Administration to addressing both climate change and racial justice. This is the first of an occasional series of articles on how environmental justice ("EJ") will work its way into the administration of the NSR program.

EPA defines "environmental justice" as follows:

EPA defines environmental justice as “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.”

Administrator Regan, while acknowledging the agency’s past environmental justice efforts, called on all EPA offices to take the following steps:

  1. Strengthen enforcement of violations of cornerstone environmental statutes and civil rights laws in communities overburdened by pollution.

  2. Take immediate and affirmative steps to incorporate environmental justice considerations into their work, including assessing impacts to pollution-burdened, underserved, and Tribal communities in regulatory development processes and to consider regulatory options to maximize benefits to these communities.

  3. Take immediate and affirmative steps to improve early and more frequent engagement with pollution-burdened and underserved communities affected by agency rulemakings, permitting and enforcement decisions, and policies. Following President Biden’s memorandum on strengthening the Nation-to-Nation relationship with Tribal Nations, EPA staff should engage in regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal officials in the development of federal policies that have Tribal implications

  4. Consistent with the Administration’s Justice 40 initiative, consider and prioritize direct and indirect benefits to underserved communities in the development of requests for grant applications and in making grant award decisions, to the extent allowed by law.

The Administrator also announced a series of roundtables to hear directly from representatives of underserved communities and environmental justice leaders about pollution burdens and the importance of EPA leadership. NSR Law Blog will follow these developments and report on them as they move into policy.

If readers have information on EJ initiatives in the regions or states that affect the NSR program, please share that information with NSR Law Blog or even prepare a guest commentary as we watch this important development in the NSR program.


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