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Considering Environmental Justice in Permitting

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To enable overburdened communities to have full and meaningful access to the permitting process and to develop permits that address environmental justice issues to the greatest extent practicable under existing environmental laws.

Read the implementation plan on permitting (PDF) (20 pp, 804K).

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Many federal environmental statutes rely heavily on permits to deliver the environmental protection results that are the goal of federal environmental laws. These permits play a key role in protecting public health and the environment in communities.

Building upon the Agency’s efforts to incorporate environmental justice concerns in rules, Plan EJ 2014 calls upon EPA to consider environmental justice concerns during the permitting process. EPA will develop and implement tools to:

  1. Enhance the ability of overburdened communities to participate fully and meaningfully in the permitting process
  2. Assist permitting authorities to meaningfully address environmental justice issues in permitting decisions to the greatest extent practicable.

To achieve our goals, the Environmental Justice Permitting Initiative will “identify and develop tools to support the consideration of environmental justice during implementation of permitting programs” to reduce “exposures for those at the greatest risk.” See the FY 2011-2015 EPA Strategic Plan, Cross-Cutting Fundamental Strategy: Working for Environmental Justice and Children’s Health.

The Agency will first focus on EPA-issued permits that provide the best current opportunities for considering environmental justice concerns.

In this way, EPA can make short-term progress and gain valuable lessons for subsequent efforts. Long term, EPA will focus on permits issued according to federal environmental laws (i.e., federal, state, or tribal). Focusing on permitting enables the Agency to address the complex issue of cumulative impacts from exposure to multiple sources and existing conditions.

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  1. Develop tools that will enhance the ability of overburdened communities to participate fully and meaningfully in the permitting process.

  2. Concurrently develop tools that assist permitting authorities in meaningfully addressing environmental justice in permitting decisions.

  3. Implement these tools at EPA and work with others to do the same.

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EPA Activities to Promote Environmental Justice in the Permit Application Process (EPA Actions)

EPA Actions identifies activities and approaches to promote greater public involvement by overburdened communities in the permitting process, particularly for major permitted activities that may significantly impact these communities.

Regions are implementing plans to explain how they will encourage meaningful engagement of overburdened communities on EPA-issued permits. The plans will be updated as the regional offices gain experience using the plans to guide their outreach efforts in overburdened communities for priority permits.

EPA Actions describes general expectations for the regional implementation plans.

Regional Implementation Plans and Contacts

Region Plan Contact
1 PDF (5 pp, 60K) Amy Braz (braz.amy@epa.gov)
2 PDF (11 pp, 206K) Anhthu Hoang (hoang.anhthu@epa.gov)
3 PDF (7 pp, 141K) Reginald Harris (harris.reggie@epa.gov)
4 PDF (7 pp, 93K) Heather Ceron (ceron.heather@epa.gov)
5 PDF (5 pp, 115K) Lara Lasky (lasky.lara@epa.gov)
6 PDF (6 pp, 99K) Israel Anderson (anderson.israel@epa.gov)
7 PDF (6 pp, 115K) Tamara Freeman (freeman.tamara@epa.gov)
8 PDF (7 pp, 73K) Callie Videtich (videtich.callie@epa.gov)
9 PDF (9 pp, 91K) Richard Grow (grow.richard@epa.gov)
10 PDF (16 pp, 204K) Running Grass (grass.running@epa.gov)

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Promising Practices for Permit Applicants (Promising Practices)

Promising Practices encourage permit applicants operating, or proposing to operate, facilities in overburdened communities to strategically plan and conduct enhanced outreach during the permitting process. These promising practices include a number of good neighbor practices already employed by permit applicants across the country. By adopting promising practices, permit applicants can build trust, promote a better understanding in the community of the facility's environmental impact, and build strong relationships that will lead to better results for both the community and the permit applicant.

Read EPA Actions and Promising Practices

Frequently asked Questions about EPA Actions and Promising Practices (PDF) (8 pp, 132K)

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