On Monday, May 23, U.S. EPA released a draft of its final Environmental Justice Strategic Plan for the Years 2016-2020, which is open for comment until July 7, 2016. The plan focuses on three major goals. The first goal is to deepen the environmental justice practice within EPA programs, specifically to improve the health and environment of overburdened communities, which EPA plans to achieve through use of rulemaking, permitting, compliance and enforcement, and science. The second goal, to work with partners to expand impact in overburdened communities, involves working with state and local governments, federal agencies, community-based organizations, and tribes and indigenous peoples to consider and implement best-practices starting from the ground-level. Finally, the third goal is to demonstrate progress on environmental justice challenges, through tasks related to disparities in exposure of children to lead, increased access to drinking water, improvement to air quality to reach national ambient air quality standards for low-income populations, and decreased exposure to contaminants at hazardous waste sites.

Overall, EPA seeks to strengthen its capacity for addressing environmental justice concerns by placing greater emphasis on low-income communities into their regular agency activities, such as rulemaking, permitting, and enforcement. It seeks to view communities more holistically with improved tools for monitoring and screening environmental pollutants and health risks and gain more insight through collaboration with state partners. For more information from EPA, click here. You can find the entire draft of the 2020 Environmental Justice Action Agenda here.