Environmental Justice Policy Revision
The Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) is working to revise the existing
Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy (EJ Policy). The Department is focused on incorporating a meaningful community engagement process to ensure inclusive community voice around its creation. The Department has created a
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to help folks understand what a DEP Policy is, what the EJ Policy is, the process for revising the EJ Policy, and what to expect based on the Department’s authority.
Our office would like to hear and consider feedback from environmental justice stakeholders across the Commonwealth as we move forward to develop a revised EJ Policy. Specifically, DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice is seeking input on the following questions:
- How can the EJ Policy address communities’ environmental justice concerns?
- What worked and what were challenges with the current EJ Policy?
- How can we improve the public participation process within the policy?
- How can DEP address environmental justice concerns in addition to permitting? What are your suggestions about addressing EJ through this policy in addition to permitting?
- DEP currently delineates EJ Areas based on race (>30% minority) and income (>20% in poverty). Do you feel that the current definition, or any definition, of an Environmental Justice Area is effective? What revisions would you recommend for identifying vulnerable communities? Note that there is no federal definition as the US EPA intentionally does not create a definition for EJ Areas or communities, though their EJSCREEN tool is available and uses a variety of factors.
Click through below to explore the timeline and key elements of the process or
view this timeline as a PDF.
Timeline and Key Elements
Expand AllClick here for a more accessible version
- Inform internal and external partners about withdrawal of policy and planning for EJ Policy Development and Implementation
- Draft plan and timetable for outreach and get initial feedback on outreach from internal and external partners
- Identify internal (DEP and state agency) partners for feedback on EJ Policy and outreach process
- Develop outreach questions, survey and strategy
- EJAB, EJ Stakeholders and other external engagement
- Present draft of EJ Policy for internal review and input
- EJAB Comments on EJ Policy – August 19, 2021
- Public Comment: Winter 2021-2022
- Comment and response document preparation
- Internal review
- Finalize EJ Policy
- Staff and state agency training on EJ Policy
- EJAB overview of EJ Policy
- Community Engagement about EJ Policy
The new updated Policy is proposed to include: revised EJ areas/population definition; interagency collaboration and EJ planning; EJ mapping, resource and data development; grantmaking practices around EJ; translation processes; and EJ training for Department staff and external partners. The
existing EJ Policy from 2004 will remain in effect until the revised policy is created.
We will add more information about the revisions and ways to engage as the process moves forward. Please
contact our office with any questions.
Sign up for the OEJ newsletter to stay involved in the update process.
Environmental Justice Advisory Board (EJAB) Meeting
The EJAB was presented with an EJ Policy Working Draft of the August 19, 2021. To see information about that meeting, scroll down to the 2021 Meetings area of the EJAB page.
Preliminary EJ Policy Revision Discussions
DEP hosted two (2) sessions to discuss revisions to the EJ Policy in March 2021.
Monday, March 22 - 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm – Comments Received
Wednesday, March 31 - 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm – Comments Received
Previous Revision Efforts
The Department conducted a process of revising the EJ Policy that was released for public comment in 2018. The Policy focused on enhancing public participation during permit reviews for specific trigger permits that warranted additional public input and engagement in specific geographic areas, known as EJ areas. The draft Policy included several revisions and updates but continued to focus solely on public engagement in the permit review process.
Comments received during the public comment period suggested that the Policy extend beyond enhancing public outreach and engagement during the permit review process. After reviewing all comments received, the Department decided in October 2020 to
withdraw the draft 2018 EJ Public Participation Policy to develop a Policy that will focus public participation but also on integrating EJ into other Department practices and policies.