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Environmental Justice

  
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The Environmental Justice Program Area includes links to EPA's Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ), who is charged with coordinating the Agency's efforts to integrate environmental justice into all policies, programs, and activities, and, other environmental justice-related resources.

Executive Order 14057: Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability was signed by President Biden on 8 December 2021.

EO 14057 directs federal facilities incorporate Environmental Justice into their daily operations and programs. Environmental justice can only be achieved by ensuring that all those affected by agency operations enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards. Accordingly, it is critical that the Federal Government incorporate environmental justice considerations into sustainability and climate adaptation planning, programs, and operations. Consistent with applicable law, agencies shall consider incorporating recommendations of the Justice40 Initiative, required by section 223 of Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad signed 27 January 2021, on how Federal investments might be made toward a goal that 40 percent of the overall benefits.

The Implementing Instructions for EO 14057, have not been issued. Once issued instructions to Federal agencies regarding the implementation of EO 14057 including agency planning, reporting requirements, and accountability will be available.

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Regulations, Guidance, and Policy
 
Executive Orders
Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low Income Populations
11 February 1994
This EO requires Federal agencies to achieve environmental justice by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, any disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental impacts that their programs, policies, and activities may have on minority populations and low-income populations.
Climate Crisis; Efforts to Protect Public Health and Environment and Restore Science
January 20, 2021
This Executive Order directs all executive departments and agencies to immediately review and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to address the promulgation of Federal regulations and other actions during the last 4 years that conflict with these important national objectives, and to immediately commence work to confront the climate crisis. In addition, this EO revokes several EOs including: • EO 13834, except for Section 6. Duties of the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer, Section 7. Duties of Heads of Agencies, and Section 11. General Provisions. • Executive Order 13778 Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the "Waters of the United States" Rule • Executive Order 13783 Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth • Executive Order 13807 Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects
Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad
January 27, 2021
The EO has three overarching objectives 1) promote safe global temperature, 2) increase climate resilience, and 3) support financial a pathway toward low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development. The EO reinstates the Presidential Memorandum of September 21, 2016 (Climate Change and National Security), establishes the Climate Policy Office within the Executive Office of the President and establishes a National Climate Task Force. In addition, the EO aims to use Federal procurement to support robust climate action including a carbon pollution-free electricity sector, no later than 2035 and clean and zero-emission vehicles for Federal, State, local, and Tribal government fleets.
Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability
December 8, 2021
President Biden has signed an Executive Order that demonstrates how the United States will leverage its scale and procurement power to lead by example in tackling the climate crisis. The executive order will reduce emissions across federal operations, invest in American clean energy industries and manufacturing, and create clean, healthy, and resilient communities.
Laws, Regulations, and Agreements
Full text of the 2011 MOU between EPA and other federal agencies.
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) jointly released a new memorandum that commits to elevating Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) in federal scientific and policy processes. ITEK is a body of observations, oral and written knowledge, practices, and beliefs that promotes environmental sustainability and the responsible stewardship of natural resources through relationships between humans and environmental systems. It is applied to phenomena across biological, physical, cultural and spiritual systems.
EPA Guidance & Planning
An April 2011 report of advice and recommendations of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (NEJAC) on enhancing environmental justice in EPA permitting programs.
The EJ 2020 Action Agenda (EJ 2020) is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2016 – 2020 strategic plan for advancing environmental justice.
EPA EJ resource page, including: Environmental Justice Considerations In the NEPA Process,Federal Guidance on Environmental Justice, Agency Guidance Related to Environmental Justice and NEPA, Methodologies that Support Environmental Justice Considerations, and other EJ guidance information.
This Strategic Plan furthers the agency's commitment to protecting human health and the environment for all people, with an emphasis on historically overburdened and underserved communities. EPA's final Plan includes a strategic goal focused exclusively on addressing climate change, as well as an unprecedented strategic goal to advance environmental justice and civil rights. The Strategic Plan outlines seven goals and four cross-agency strategies. The strategies articulate essential ways of working to accomplish EPA's goals and mission outcomes. The Plan also includes a suite of measures that will help the Agency monitor progress and ensure accountability for achieving its priorities to protect human health and the environment for all Americans.
EPA Asst. Administrator memorandum, dated 30 April 2021, to the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Office Directors and Deputies, Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Directors and Deputies, and Regional Counsels and Deputies, outlining steps for advancement of environmental justice goals.
EPA Asst. Administrator memorandum, dated July 1, 2021, to the Office of Site Remediation Enforcement Managers, Regional Superfund Division Directors and Deputies, Regional Counsels and Deputies, setting out steps to advance EPA environmental justice goals through cleanup enforcement at private and federal facility sites, primarily through the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
EPA Asst. Administrator memorandum, dated 26 Apr 2021, to the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Office Directors and Deputies, Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Directors and Deputies, and Regional Counsels and Deputies. This memorandum charges enforcement staff and case teams to appropriately use the full array of policy and legal tools available to ensure that our country's environmental laws – and the policies to implement them – deliver benefits to all individuals and communities.
The EPA Policy on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribes establishes clear EPA standards for the consultation process. It defines when and how consultation takes place, designates EPA consultation contacts to promote consistency and coordination of the process, and establishes management oversight and reporting to ensure accountability and transparency. The Policy sets a broad standard for when EPA should consider consulting with federally recognized tribal governments based on Executive Order 13175 and the 1984 EPA Policy for the Administration of Environmental Programs on Indian Reservations.
EPA's Equity Action Plan provides guidance on how to assess whether underserved communities and their members face systemic barriers in accessing benefits and opportunities through the federal government. This Equity Action Plan is a critical part of EPA's efforts to break through those barriers and advance equity and justice across our efforts to ensure clean water, air, and land for all communities. The plan outlines priority actions that form a critical foundation on which to build meaningful engagement with underserved communities; achieve more equitable and just outcomes, including pollution reductions in communities with environmental justice concerns; and deliver other tangible benefits to underserved communities.
The Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis is designed to help EPA analysts evaluate potential environmental justice (EJ) concerns associated with EPA regulatory actions.
Other Federal Agency Guidance
The environmental justice program within Department of Homeland Security is co-led by the Office of the Chief Readiness Support Officer's Sustainability and Environmental Programs and the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. These offices work throughout the Department and Components to provide policy and guidance, internal and external training, and subject matter expertise while fulfilling the obligations outlined in the Environmental Justice Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice and Executive Order 12898 (MOU).
The U.S. Department of Energy is committed to ensuring that the principles of environmental justice are applied to all the DOE's programs, policies, and activities. Learn about the DOE's EJ goals, accomplishments, policies, objectives and events.
Home for the Department of Interior's EJ strategic plan and implementation progress reports.
Home for the U.S. Departement of Health and Human Services' EJ strategic plans and implementation progress reports.
Home for the U.S. Department of Justice's EJ strategy, guidance and implementation progress reports.
In this fact sheet the Administration is announcing new actions across agencies to support American leadership on clean manufacturing. The industrial sector is also central to tackling the climate crisis, as it is currently responsible for nearly a third of domestic greenhouse gas emissions. By helping manufacturers use clean energy, efficiency upgrades, and other innovative technologies to reduce emissions, the Administration is supporting cleaner industry that can produce the next generation of products and materials for a net-zero economy. These same manufacturing improvements will also protect public health, by reducing releases of air and water pollutants and toxic materials that disproportionately harm low-income households and communities of color.
Supporting Information and Tools
 
Databases/Software Tools
A system of software applications used widely to plan for and respond to chemical emergencies. It is one of the tools developed by EPA's Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office (CEPPO) and NOAA, to assist front-line chemical emergency planners and responders. They can use CAMEO to access, store, and evaluate information critical for developing emergency plans. In addition, CAMEO supports regulatory compliance by helping users meet the chemical inventory reporting requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA, also known as SARA Title III). CAMEO also can be used with a separate software application called LandView ® to display EPA environmental databases and demographic/economic information to support analysis of environmental justice issues.
This mobile version contains the same key functions and features as the full version of EJSCREEN, but in a more compact, easily accessible format. EJSCREEN is an environmental justice mapping and screening tool that provides EPA with a nationally consistent dataset and approach for combining environmental and demographic indicators. EJSCREEN users choose a geographic area; the tool then provides demographic and environmental information for that area.
This tool uses high resolution maps combined with demographic and environmental data to identify places with potentially elevated environmental burdens and vulnerable populations. EJSCREEN's simple to understand color-coded maps, bar charts, and reports enable users to better understand areas in need of increased environmental protection, health care access, housing, infrastructure improvement, community revitalization, and climate resilience.
A web-based mapping tool developed for Federal agencies to facilitate more efficient and effective environmental reviews and project planning. The tool is part of an initiative developed by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and it draws information from publicly available federal, state, and local datasets, allowing NEPA practitioners, stakeholders and the public to view information about environmental conditions within the area of a proposed project quickly and easily at early stages of project development.
To support the EPA's environmental justice (EJ) goals, as well as the Justice40 Initiative in pollution prevention (P2) grant work, EPA developed a mapping tool that allows uses to identify industrial facilities located in or adjacent to underserved communities, including communities with EJ concerns. The P2 EJ Facility Mapping Tool helps prospective P2 grant applicants, grantees and interested stakeholders geographically target facilities in or adjacent to underserved communities within the framework of the P2 program's five industrial sector-based National Emphasis Areas (NEAs). The tool allows users to identify industrial facilities that may be contributing to pollution levels in a selected area, including communities with environmental justice (EJ) concerns.
Directories/Catalogs/Newsletters
The Environmental Justice Research Roadmap, dated November 2015, describes the interface between environmental justice and science and outlines opportunities that exist in the link between environmental equity and technology and is a key element in EPA's 2020 EJ Action Agenda.
Libraries/Repositories/Reports
Link to EPA's Office of Environmental Justice annual progress reports highlighting EPA's recent advancement of environmental justice principles throughout its programs and updates on its latest accomplishments.
EPA report that shows the most severe harms from climate change fall disproportionately upon underserved communities who are least able to prepare for, and recover from, heat waves, poor air quality, flooding, and other impacts. EPA's analysis indicates that racial and ethnic minority communities are particularly vulnerable to the greatest impacts of climate change. This report is one of the most advanced environmental justice studies to date that looks at how projected climate change impacts may be distributed across the American public.
EJ Legal Tools highlights the environmental and civil rights statutes EPA implements to achieve the agency's mission to protect human health and the environment for all communities and persons and to ensure that the environmental justice and equity agendas are integrated throughout the agency's policies, programs, and activities. EJ Legal Tools is intended to help EPA decisionmakers and partners understand their authorities to consider and address environmental justice and equity in decision-making, and to promote meaningful engagement.
The purpose of these calls is to inform the public about EPA's environmental justice work and enhance opportunities to maintain an open dialogue with environmental justice advocates. The calls first began in 2010 and were a valuable tool for EPA to learn about environmental justice needs in communities around the country. Recordings and meeting materials for all calls are posted on the website.
Organizations/Programs
The Urban Waters Partnership reconnects urban communities, particularly those that are overburdened or economically distressed, with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies. The Partnership also collaborates with community-led revitalization efforts to improve our Nation's water systems and promote their economic, environmental and social benefits.
This group was established under Executive Order 12898 in 1994 and is comprised of eleven federal agencies and several White House offices.
NEJAC was established September 30, 1993.The NEJAC Executive Council consists of 26 members appointed from key environmental justice constituencies, which include community-based groups; business and industry; academic and educational institutions; state and local governments; tribal governments and indigenous organizations; and non-governmental and environmental groups. The NEJAC also has seven subcommittees to help develop strategic options for EPA. These subcommittees report to the NEJAC Executive Council. Each subcommittee consists of approximately 6 to 13 individuals knowledgeable in the subject area. Members are drawn from the NEJAC Executive Council as well as from other stakeholder organizations. The subcommittees are: Air and Water; Enforcement; Health and Research; Indigenous Peoples; International; Puerto Rico; and Waste and Facility Siting.
The White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) was established by Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad (signed January 27, 2021), to advise the Chair of the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the newly established White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council (EJ IAC) to increase the Federal Government's efforts to address environmental injustice. The WHEJAC's efforts will include a broad range of strategic, scientific, technological, regulatory, community engagement, and economic issues related to environmental justice. The WHEJAC membership list can be found here.
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Lessons Learned
 
Community Outreach
Federal, state and other EJ-related funding and support opportunities.
Showcases environmental justice activities, highlights and accomplishments across the 10 EPA regions.
EPA blog highlighting federal efforts to support environmental justice in our communities.
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Training, Presentations, and Briefings
EPA's training page for various EJ-related webinars conducted for state and government entities.
The EJ webinar series for tribes and indigenous peoples seeks to enhance EJ integration, build capacity, raise awareness of EPA and other federal programs and resources, and provide technical assistance to tribes and indigenous peoples on priority environmental, public health, and other EJ concerns. Please note that the webinars are recorded and available at the website a few weeks after the webinar.
The Environmental Justice virtual workshop series was created to forge collaborative relationships to benefit communities and promote sustainable growth. This series will build capacity for individuals and organizations working in underserved and disadvantaged communities to address their environmental and public health concerns and provide improved community-to- community networking and other communications between all stakeholders. There are five recorded sessions with topics ranging from community digital mapping tools to water quality.
In this webinar, you will hear about: How state revolving fund (SRF) program funds work; how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding can help communities address water infrastructure challenges; what resources are available (current and upcoming) for information and technical assistance; and where to go for more information and to stay in the loop.
Conferences and Events
July 2022
EPA invites Environmental Justice (EJ) advocates to participate in the next National Environmental Justice Community Engagement Call. These calls are free and open to the public The purpose of these calls is to inform the community and other stakeholders about EPA's EJ work and enhance opportunities to maintain an open dialogue with EJ advocates. The agenda includes: EPA EJ Leadership Updates, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Lead Paint Remediation Program update, Engagement Dialogue, and Upcoming Engagement Opportunities.
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Last Updated: June 27, 2022