The Flaws of DEP’s 2023 EJ Policy

The Department of Environmental Protection’s PA Environmental Justice Branch released the new EJ Policy of 2023. The policy hasn’t been updated since 2004.

Read the full policy here.

Here are the problems with the report.

  • DEP’s EJ  policy reliance on using the internet web sources and forms does not meet the needs of public participation in most EJ communities like Chester, where it is known we have limited web resources. Such as going onto the EJ Portal to fill out a complaint form online.
  • DEP should NOT be allowed  to use “its discretion” when taking enforcement action especially in an already polluted environmental justice area like Chester.
  • Any permit application in an EJ area should automatically trigger an opt in status.
  • The policy uses words like “are encouraged” and “should be” when referring to processes for applicants with Trigger Projects in EJ Communities. There needs to be stronger language and requirements. It is mentioned that these actions are considered but does not outline how heavily they are weighed in the permit reviewal process.
  • Public reports should be issued documenting exactly what these applicants have done as far as pre-project community outreach, if they are not already.
  • The General Information Form should be required for all EJ areas. 
  • Who in local government is contacted when creating a public participation strategy developed by the DEP’s OEJ? Community stakeholders and healthcare professionals should be considered as part of the strategy planning.
  • Notices should also be posted at schools and school board meetings. Must be in Spanish also.
  • Community Environmental Projects (VI.B.4): These violators should be required to perform the remedial work in addition to a fine to the Commonwealth and community. The community NOT the applicant should decide what projects are to be done. They should be required to perform remedial work, in addition to a fine, and be at risk of permit suspension or revocation if repeat offenses are found
  • Mitigation Practices: These should be a requirement in EJ areas. There is no specification exactly how these factor into the DEP’s permit approval process. 

Even if you couldn’t make it to yesterday’s DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) meeting, you can still submit a public comment about their updated environmental justice policy, which is lacking in many areas.

Access the policy and read more about its flaws here. Submit a written comment about the policy at *submit comments under document title “Interim-Final Environmental Justice Policy (015-0501-002) and Pennsylvania Environmental Justice Mapping and Screening Tool (PennEnviroScreen) Methodology Document (015-0501-003)”
Your comment can state directly what was said above. Write in now! 

They will be accepting written comments until November! 

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