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Environmental Justice Policy Revision

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The final draft of the updated EJ Policy public comment period is closed. We are now analyzing the comments and will produce a comment response document. The existing EJ Policy from 2004 will remain in effect until the revised policy is adopted.

All DEP (Department) policies are written, nonbinding documents that outline procedures that Department and others may put in place and actions they may take to meet the requirements of an environmental law or outline key practices of an agency or organization. The draft EJ Policy will help guide the Department in integrating EJ into more aspects of the work within regulatory limits. 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.

The draft EJ Policy includes several sections to expand and improve upon the existing Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy which has been in effect since 2004.

1. General Information section, which includes definitions, history and background, a description of the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ), and the Environmental Justice Advisory Board (EJAB).

2. The second and third sections describe the Permit Review Process and Community Input. This is the process around implementing additional public input around particular permits when they are submitted.

4. Oil and Gas Public Engagement was a major need identified by community members and was included in the fourth section. 

5. Inspections, Compliance, and Enforcement guidance help the policy move beyond public participation in the permitting process and are covered in the fifth section.

6. The sixth section of the policy, Climate Initiatives, spells out ways that EJ can be included in the climate action plan and other efforts.

7. Community Development and Investments look to ways to financially assist communities facing environmental justice issues in the seventh section.

8. The eighth section, Policy Updates, specifies that the policy should be reviewed for updates regularly to ensure that the policy continues to address community concerns.

Timeline and Key Elements 

Click through below to explore the timeline and key elements of the process or view this timeline as a PDF.

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Recent Outreach

Public Comment Period

DEP held a public comment period on the revised policy from April 12 – May 11, 2022. This formal public comment period built off of community input given in several ways described below. During this public comment period, DEP held 4 virtual public hearings to obtain input. The testimony from these hearing will be added to the written comments collected on using the Department's online eComment tool.

To help publicize this comment period, DEP offered to attend local events, advisory committees, and other meetings at community request. DEP attended 20 such meetings to help get the word out about the comment period. DEP also provided outreach materials to help spread the word, as shown below.

Outreach Materials

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.

Session Presentation

Monday, March 22, 2021 - 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm – Comments Received

Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - 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.