The Department of Environmental Protection published notice in the July 14 Pennsylvania Bulletin inviting public comments on a revised Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy technical guidance (DEP ID: 012-0501-002).
Historically, minority and low-income Pennsylvanians have not had equitable opportunities to participate in decisions that may adversely impact their environment. This policy outlines opportunities for community involvement and public participation in the individual permit application process in Environmental Justice Areas.
The revisions to this policy clarify how individuals living in Environmental Justice Areas may have additional opportunities to engage with DEP and permit applicants through public meetings, public comment periods, public access to permit documents, and other measures in the effort to increase participation throughout decision making processes.
To accurately capture the number of people living in Environmental Justice Areas, DEP updated its definition of Environmental Justice Area to be ”any census-block group with a 30 percent or greater minority population or 20 percent or greater at or below the poverty level as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.”
A draft Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy was reviewed with DEP’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board at its meeting last week.