The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made available on May 9, 2013, two publications describing how it is integrating environmental justice provisions into its permitting processes. 78 Fed. Reg. 27,220 (5/9/13). Titled “Actions that EPA Regional Offices Are Taking to Promote Meaningful Engagement in the Permitting Process by Overburdened Communities” and “Promising Practices for Permit Applicants Seeking EPA Issued Permits: Ways to Engage Neighboring Communities in the Permitting Process,” the documents are part of EPA’s “Plan EJ 2014,” which established the goal of including environmental justice considerations into all EPA issued permit processes.
Environmental justice seeks to reduce barriers facing minority, low-income and indigenous communities “that have historically been underrepresented” in the permitting process. According to EPA, the new documents do not change any legal requirements. The “Promising Practices” document is intended to “encourage permit applicants to strategically plan and conduct enhanced outreach to overburdened communities in the permitting process.” The “EPA Actions” document is intended to “encourage more transparency and consistency in EPA’s permitting process with the goal of it increasing meaningful engagement of overburdened communities in that process.”