EPA Announces Focus on Environmental Justice
Last week, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan announced new efforts that will be taken by EPA to advance environmental justice. In his remarks on the new focus, Administrator Regan gave clear marching orders to all EPA offices to "integrate environmental justice considerations into their plans and actions." Regan continued, “Too many communities whose residents are predominantly of color, Indigenous, or low-income continue to suffer from disproportionately high pollution levels and the resulting adverse health and environmental impacts. We must do better. This will be one of my top priorities as Administrator, and I expect it to be one of yours as well.”
Under this new concentration, EPA offices are required to:
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.
What currently is not known about EPA’s efforts is how they will specifically be administered. EPA has yet to announce if these actions will be taken through consistent practices among all offices related to new permits, approval processes, proposed rules requiring public notice and comment, EPA guidance, inspections or other activities. NRMCA will continue to monitor EPA’s actions on this front for their potential impacts to the ready mixed concrete industry.