U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY PLAN EJ 2014 - JULY 27, 2010 - Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 02/16/2011 - 17:28.

Whitehouse.gov screenshot of Lisa Jackson speaking at First White House Environmental Justice Forum

Whitehouse.gov screenshot of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson speaking at First White House Environmental Justice Forum

Plan EJ 2014

Plan EJ 2014 is an overarching strategy intended to advance EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priority to “expand the conversation on environmentalism and work for environmental justice.” Plan EJ 2014, named in recognition of the 20th anniversary of President Clinton’s issuance of Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations PDF (6 pp, 122K, about PDF), is a roadmap to help us integrate environmental justice into all of our programs.

The goals of the plan are to:

  • Protect health in communities over-burdened by pollution
  • Empower communities to take action to improve their health and environment
  • Establish partnerships with local, state, tribal and federal organizations to achieve healthy and sustainable communities.

Over the next four years, we will implement the plan and work to strengthen our efforts to carry out the Administrator’s priority through continuous and meaningful engagement with communities and all stakeholders.

We are looking for your comments and ideas on Plan EJ 2014. Specifically, we would like your thoughts on the 5 Cross-Agency Focus Areas: Rulemaking, Permitting, Compliance, Community-Based Action, and Administration-Wide Action.

  • Are the five Cross-Agency Focus Areas outlined above the correct ones?
  • What are some ways we can strengthen specific actions within the five Cross-Agency Focus Areas?
  • How would you prioritize the five Cross-Agency Focus Areas?

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Plan EJ 2014 (9 pp, 325K, about PDF).

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY PLAN EJ 2014

JULY 27, 2010  - DRAFT FOR PUBLIC COMMENT

INTRODUCTION

In January 2010, Administrator Lisa P. Jackson made Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for Environmental Justice one of EPA’s key priorities. For far too long, environmentalism has been viewed as a distant issue for many minority, low-income, and indigenous people. That view has persisted despite the fact that these same people often experience higher levels environmental pollution and other social and economic burdens that result in poorer health outcomes, and fewer financial or advocacy opportunities to spend on many activities, including “greening” their communities. This new priority challenges EPA to address the needs of overburdened communities by decreasing environmental burdens and increasing environmental benefits and to work alongside community stakeholders to build healthy and sustainable neighborhoods.

February 2014 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Clinton Administration’s issuance of Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. The Order calls on federal agencies to “make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities...” EPA has made progress in implementing its Environmental Justice (EJ) program and has been a government leader in working to incorporate environmental justice into its programs and policies, but EPA also recognizes that it can do more. To reach this 20th anniversary milestone, EPA has developed Plan EJ 2014. This four-year plan will help EPA move forward to develop a stronger relationship with communities and increase the Agency’s effort to improve the environmental conditions and public health in overburdened communities.
EPA also incorporated Administrator Jackson’s Environmental Justice priority in its Draft FY2011-FY2015 Strategic Plan, as the Cross-Cutting Fundamental Strategy “Working for Environmental Justice and Children’s Health.” That draft strategy describes the many ways in which EPA will work on environmental justice during the four year fiscal time frame, including regulatory work, scientific research, community engagement, and partnering with other federal agencies and external organizations. EPA envisions that the activities outlined in Plan EJ 2014 will align and will support EPA’s commitments in the Cross-Cutting Fundamental Strategy for FY2011-FY2015.

ACHIEVING EPA’S ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE PRIORITIES

Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for Environmental Justice encourages EPA to identify better ways to address the issues facing many minority, low-income, and indigenous people with environmental justice burdens and concerns. To help meet this challenge, EPA has identified three goals in Plan EJ 2014 to shape work on environmental justice:

  • Protect the environment and health in overburdened communities,
  • Empower communities to take action to improve their health and environment, and
  • Establish partnerships with local, state, tribal and federal governments and organizations to achieve healthy and sustainable communities.

EPA will work to achieve these goals by using a combination of initiatives and efforts and will focus on and seek to be responsive to community concerns. Integrating environmental justice into EPA’s day-to-day business is a big challenge. EPA’s efforts consistently aim to protect human health and the environment, reduce pollution, enforce environmental regulations and permits, and bring new science and technology to assist and inform decision-making. As we move forward, EPA is committed to enhancing outreach efforts, working more closely with communities, diversifying activities, and utilizing multi-media strategies to bring about change in our nation’s overburdened communities.

PLAN EJ 2014

Plan EJ 2014 is a roadmap to help EPA integrate environmental justice into its programs. The
Plan is divided into three sections: Cross-Agency Focus Areas, Tools Development, and Program
Initiatives. The organization of the Plan and the work outlined in it reflect many years of
experience working with a wide variety of stakeholders to identify and address environmental
justice concerns.

The Cross-Agency Focus Areas address cross-cutting issues or functions that require work by all
programs or agencies and serve to advance environmental justice across EPA and the federal
government. The Tools Development efforts focus on developing the scientific, legal, and data
and information foundation that support environmental justice analysis, community work, and
communications and stakeholder engagement. Program Initiatives focus on specific EPA
programs, mainly the national programs. Some of the work outlined below is underway and
other environmental justice work is currently in development. EPA will develop an agenda for
each of the five Cross Agency Focus Areas, with a scope of work, outreach plans, and milestones
to advance EPA’s environmental justice priority.

I. Cross-Agency Focus Areas

The Plan outlines five Cross-Agency Focus Areas:

  1. Incorporating Environmental Justice Into Rulemaking,
  2. Considering Environmental Justice Concerns in EPA’s Permitting Process,
  3. Accelerating Compliance and Enforcement Initiatives,
  4. Supporting Community-Based Action Programs, and
  5. Fostering Administration-Wide Action on Environmental Justice

EPA recognizes that these issues are cross-cutting in nature and require the participation of all
programs. They require a unified Agency approach toward policy and guidance development. In
this way, EPA’s environmental justice work will become more efficient and coordinated and
ultimately more effective. Some issues also require coordination among multiple federal
agencies, as evidenced in the Cross-Agency Focus Areas on Administration-Wide Action.

Lastly, continuous community engagement and empowerment, with input from communities and
all stakeholders, will help shape the planning and implementation of Plan EJ 2014 initiatives.
Incorporating Environmental Justice Into Rulemaking: EPA’s authority to develop
regulations that put our nation’s environmental laws into effect is one of the Agency’s most
important tools for protecting human health and the environment. EPA’s regulatory authority
combined with the mandates of Executive Order 12898 charge EPA with responsibility to ensure
that, as we develop Agency actions, we consider communities that are disproportionately
impacted by pollution. By incorporating environmental justice into its rulemaking process, EPA
will more effectively protect overburdened minority, low-income, and indigenous populations.
Plan EJ 2014 calls upon EPA to integrate environmental justice into the fabric of its rulemaking
process.

The Agency achieved a significant milestone in this effort in July 2010 by issuing the Interim
Guidance on Incorporating Environmental Justice During the Development of an Action. This
guidance calls upon Agency rule writers and decision-makers to consider environmental justice
throughout all phases of a rule’s development – known as the Action Development Process
(ADP) – from the point of its inception through all the stages leading to promulgation and
implementation. In addition, EPA created the Regulatory Gateway, a web-based portal that
houses information on all rules under development. The portal enables the user to identify rules
with significant EJ concerns (http://yosemite.epa.gov/opei/rulegate.nsf) and to track the
development of the rule throughout the ADP.

EPA is also developing substantive technical guidance to assist rule writers and decision-makers
in determining how to analyze and incorporate environmental justice into its various rulemaking
processes. This guidance is expected to be completed in 2011. EPA’s efforts to incorporate
environmental justice in its rulemaking must be supported by a strong foundation of science, the
rule of law, transparency, and continuous community engagement. The work needed to develop
these tools is described under, “Tools Development” in Section II.

Considering Environmental Justice Concerns in EPA’s Permitting Process: Many federal
environmental statutes rely heavily on permits to deliver the environmental protection results that
are the goal of our federal environmental laws. For example, the Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act (RCRA) relies on permits to ensure that hazardous waste treatment, storage, and
disposal facilities take effective measures to protect the surrounding community from exposure
to the hazardous waste handled at those facilities. The Clean Water Act relies on permits to
control discharges of pollutants into surface waters to protect water quality and communities’
health and welfare. The Clean Air Act uses permits to restrict emissions of air pollutants from
facilities to ensure that air quality standards are met and public health is protected from air
pollution. These permits are a key to providing effective protection of public health and the
environment in communities, given their role in addressing exposure to pollutants and preventing
adverse environmental and public health impacts.

Building upon the work to incorporate environmental justice concerns in rules, Plan EJ 2014
calls upon EPA to consider environmental justice concerns during the permitting process. The
goal is to ensure that environmental justice concerns are given as full consideration as possible in
the decision to issue a permit and the terms of the permits issued under federal environmental
laws.

The initial focus of this work will be on EPA-issued permits that are important to the public
health and welfare of overburdened communities and that have criteria and permit processes that
provide the best current opportunities for taking environmental justice concerns into
consideration. This will provide the best opportunity for making short-term progress and
providing valuable lessons for further efforts.

Overburdened minority, low-income, and indigenous communities often experience cumulative
impacts on their health and welfare from pollution from many sources at the same time. A
longer-term aspect to this work will be a focus on permits issued pursuant to federal
environmental laws (i.e, federal, state, or tribal) that enable EPA to address the complex issue of
cumulative impacts from exposure to multiple sources and existing conditions that are critical to
the effective consideration of environmental justice in permitting.

EPA’s work on environmental justice in permitting will require strong and close cooperation
between the Agency’s program and regional offices, states, and community stakeholders. EPA
National Program Managers (NPM) will need to provide guidance on how to incorporate
environmental justice into the various types of permit programs they oversee with input from the
EPA Regional Offices, states, and community stakeholders. The EPA Regional Offices will need
to implement the guidance as they make decisions on individual permits and work with the states
to strengthen their permitting programs.

This will require a strong foundation of science and the rule of law, as well as transparency and
meaningful community engagement. The work needed to develop these tools is described under,
“Tools Development” in Section II.

Accelerating Compliance and Enforcement Initiatives: Compliance and enforcement is an
integral part of environmental protection. EPA pursues enforcement and provides compliance
assistance to areas that yield the most environmental benefit or reduce risk to human health.
Plan EJ 2014 calls upon EPA’s enforcement and compliance program to give full consideration
to environmental justice issues and communities when developing and implementing program
strategies. The Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) and the Regions are
taking steps in this direction. OECA and the Regions: (1) consider EJ concerns in selecting
national priorities for enforcement and compliance assurance attention, (2) target specific
compliance strategies and enforcement actions to address problems that affect overburdened
communities, and (3) seek remedies in enforcement actions that benefit overburdened
communities affected by the non-compliance.

For example, OECA selected National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011-2013 that include taking
action against sewer overflows, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) that discharge
manure to surface or ground waters, and facilities that emit excessive amounts of air toxics.

These types of facilities and pollution problems tend to have a disproportionate impact on
minority, low-income, and indigenous communities.

OECA and the Regions, working with the Department of Justice (DOJ), are also pressing for
remedies in enforcement cases that benefit communities overburdened by illegal pollution.
Plan EJ 2014 calls upon OECA to accelerate these efforts. OECA will also make additional
efforts to provide information to overburdened communities about enforcement actions that
affect those communities, and to provide meaningful opportunities for community input to the
remedies sought in those enforcement actions

Supporting Community-Based Action Programs: EPA is committed to supporting efforts in
overburdened minority, low-income, and indigenous communities. EPA seeks to achieve this
goal by focusing on environmental issues that matter to these communities and by empowering
citizens and community groups to take action to improve their health and environment. EPA has
a number of on-going initiatives that support community-based action. For example, EPA’s
National Enforcement Air Toxics and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO)
Initiatives, Brownfields redevelopment, and Goods Movement Initiative all reflect a focus on
issues that have been conveyed to EPA from communities who have suffered from the legacy of
pollution and socioeconomic discrimination. Second, EPA seeks to empower overburdened
communities to take action to improve their health and environment. Grant and technical
assistance programs such as EPA’s EJ Small Grants program, Community Action for a Renewed
Environment (CARE), and EJ Showcase Community Pilots provide funding and other resources
for communities to take action to improve community health. The Agency has developed an
array of effective programs and tools, such as funding mechanisms, training, technical assistance,
and information and analytical resources to help communities address their environmental
problems.

EPA will promote greater coordination in the use of programs and tools1 to support community
empowerment at all levels, from basic educational and leadership development to comprehensive
approaches to achieving healthy, sustainable, and green communities. Through these efforts,
EPA will make the Agency’s resources more accessible to communities, while achieving greater
internal efficiency. EPA will also work with other federal agencies to produce holistic
approaches and coordinate efforts to provide resources and technical assistance to communities.
The Agency will also support continued engagement with overburdened communities and
partnerships among all stakeholders.

Fostering Administration-Wide Action on Environmental Justice: E.O. 12898 recognizes
that EJ concerns must be addressed in a holistic way. It calls upon many federal agencies to
make EJ part of their missions and to identify and address environmental and health impacts
relevant to their programs and policies.
1
  Ongoing EPA grants and technical assistance programs which provide significant resources to overburdened
communities include: EJ Small Grants, EJ Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreements, EJ State
Cooperative Agreements, Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) Cooperative Agreements,
Brownfields Job Training Grants, EJ Showcase Community Pilots, and EJ Green Development Pilots.

E.O. 12898 also called for the establishment of an Interagency Working Group on
Environmental Justice (IWG), which is chaired by the EPA Administrator. EPA is working with
the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to reconvene the IWG in the Fall of
2010 as the first step in reinvigorating federal agency and Administration-wide efforts to
advance environmental justice.

In addition, EPA has a number of federal partnerships established and initiatives underway that
support a holistic approach to addressing the environmental, social, and economic burdens that
impact communities. For example, EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development, and the U.S. Department of Transportation joined together to form the Partnership
for Sustainable Communities, an unprecedented agreement to coordinate federal housing,
transportation, and environmental investments; protect public health and the environment;
promote equitable development; and help address the challenges of climate change. Other
partnerships that benefit overburdened communities, include the Brownfields Federal
Interagency Partnership, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership and America’s Great Outdoors
Initiative.

In the short term, EPA will focus on bridging relationships among different agencies and begin
developing joint initiatives. Every federal agency should be responsible for integrating EJ as part
their missions and ensuring that their programs address disproportionately high and adverse
effects of their programs actions on minority, low–income, and indigenous populations. For
example, all federal agencies are responsible for considering environmental justice issues in
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental impact assessments and enforcing
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

II. Tools Development

Science: The Office of Research and Development is building a strong scientific foundation for
conducting disproportionate impact analysis, particularly methods to appropriately characterize
and assess cumulative impacts. These efforts help to ensure that EPA brings the best science to
decision-making around environmental justice issues. These efforts will build upon work from
the Science of Disproportionate Impacts Analysis Symposium (March 17-19, 2010) and an EJ
regulatory analysis technical workshop (June 9-10, 2010).

Law: The Office of General Counsel is working with the programs and regions to identify
opportunities to utilize EPA’s statutory authorities to advance environmental justice. Developing
legal tools to advance environmental justice is based on EPA’s commitment to the rule of law.

Information: EPA is working to develop a common mapping platform and nationally consistent
screening and targeting tool to enhance EJ analysis and decision-making. EPA’s efforts will
enhance efforts to provide accessible information to communities and foster transparency.

Resources: EPA is working to achieve better coordination among its multiple grant programs, to
enable communities to better access Agency grant resources and to foster greater efficiency in
program implementation. These efforts will support the Agency’s commitment to empowering
communities to take action to improve their health and environment.

III. Program Initiatives

Plan EJ 2014 asks that each EPA National Program Manager identify relevant programmatic
items that could benefit communities with environmental justice concerns. Examples of such
initiatives are: Community Engagement Initiative (Office of Solid Waste and Emergency
Response), Urban Waters (Office of Water), DOJ-EPA Environmental Justice Enforcement Pilot
(Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance), Air Toxics Rules (Office of Air and
Radiation) and Pesticide Spray and Dust Drift initiatives (Office of Chemical Safety and
Pollution Prevention), and the U.S. Mexico Border Program (Office of International and Tribal
Affairs). Also, many of the efforts or initiatives developed to implement the Administrator’s
other 2010 priorities could be tailored to better integrate environmental justice or otherwise work
towards environmental justice.

IMPLEMENTATION

Plan EJ 2014 is designed to integrate environmental justice into EPA’s programs. It is put
forward as a draft for a 60-day public review and comment period. It is also being provided to
the NEJAC for their input. EPA seeks feedback on the following questions:

  1. Are the five Cross-Agency Focus Areas outlined above the correct ones?
  2. What are some ways EPA can strengthen specific actions within the five Cross-Agency Focus Areas?
  3. How would you prioritize the five Cross-Agency Focus Areas?

Comments are due October 1, 2010, and they can be submitted to EPA via:

EPA will finalize Plan EJ 2014 within 90 days of the close of the comment period. EPA will also
develop an agenda or plan for each of the five Cross Agency Focus Areas, with a scope of work,
outreach plans, and milestones. Thereafter, EPA will issue periodic status reports on the web, by
email, and quarterly conference calls to interested parties. Finally, an annual progress report by
the end of each fiscal year will be provided.

The Plan will be a dynamic document. Throughout the implementation of Plan EJ 2014, EPA
will seek community and stakeholder participation as early and often as possible. Progress will
be reviewed and reported annually. Eighteen months after the plan is finalized, EPA will update
it with new initiatives, as appropriate.

A final report on Plan EJ 2014 will be prepared for release on the 20th anniversary of the E.O.
12898 in the Spring of 2014.
 

Transmittal Letter:

UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
WASHINGTON , D.C. 20460
OFFICE OF ENFORCEMENT AND COMPLIANCE ASSURANCE

MEMORANDUM
SUBJECT:        Request for Recommendations on Plan EJ 2014
                                                                                                    ~
FROM:       Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator
                Office of Enforcement and Compliance
TO:           National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Members

We are pleased to provide the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council
(NEJAC) with EPA's Draft Plan EJ 2014 and the Draft Charge to the NEJAC on "Incorporating
Environmental Justice Concerns into the EPA Permitting Processes." We look forward to a
robust dialogue with the Council over the next several months and obtaining your advice
regarding these important issues.

Plan EJ 2014

Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for Environmental
Justice is one of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson's top priorities for EPA. Plan EJ 2014, named in
recognition of the 20 th anniversary of the issuance of Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to
Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, is EPA's
overarching strategy for carrying out the Administrator's priority. Over the next four years, EPA
will implement and seek to strengthen efforts under the five Cross-Agency Focus Areas outlined
in the plan: I) Rulemaking; 2) Permitting; 3) Compliance; 4) Community-Based Action; and 5)
Administration-Wide Action on Environmental Justice.

During the NEJAC meeting, we would like to establish a dialogue on the following
questions:

  1. Are the Cross-Agency Focus Areas the correct ones?
  2. How can EPA strengthen specific actions within the five Cross-Agency Focus Areas?
  3. How would you prioritize the five Cross-Agency Focus Areas?

We are also requesting that NEJAC provide written comments regarding Plan EJ 2014 by
October 1,2010. The agency is making Plan EJ 2014 available to the public and is also seeking
comments from environmental justice organizations and members of the public.

Permitting Charge

The Draft Charge to the NEJAC on "Incorporating Environmental Justice Concerns into
the EPA Permitting Processes" represents EPA's desire to improve its ability to consider both
environmental justice concerns and the issue of cumulative impacts in the permitting process.
We are committed to doing more to provide meaningful opportunities for community
involvement in the permitting processes. During the NEJAC meeting, we would like you to
discuss the best approach to answering the questions outlined in the permitting charge.

EPA is committed to engaging the NEJAC and the public on these important issues. We
envision a continuous conversation with communities and all stakeholders about our efforts to
integrate environmental justice into EPA policies and programs.