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Environmental Justice Policy Revision


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What is the EJ Policy?

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 interim final EJ Policy helps guide the Department in integrating EJ into more aspects of the work within regulatory limits.

Environmental Justice (EJ) Policy

After extensive public comment reviews and policy revisions, DEP adopted an interim final Environmental Justice Policy on September 16, 2023. Additionally, DEP has an improved mapping tool to better identify EJ areas within the Commonwealth and has an expansive and elevated Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ). There will be a formal public comment period until October 29, 2023. The EJ Policy from 2004 will only apply to permit applications received before September 16 and grant applications relating to materials released before September 16.

The interim-final EJ Policy includes several sections that enhance the previous Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy which had been in effect since 2004.

  1. Introduction section includes history and background.
  2. The Definitions section describes key terms used in the policy to help clarify the document for the public, DEP staff, and the regulated community.
  3. Environmental Justice Criteria describes where the policy applies. This will be done through the PennEnviroScreen tool, described in detail in the Pennsylvania Environmental Justice Mapping and Screening Tool (PennEnviroScreen) Methodology Documentation 2023.
  4. Proactive Community Engagement section describes how DEP can center community voices by reaching communities before an environmental crisis or project application comes before the agency for review.
  5. Enhanced Public Participation Process provides a systematic approach to ensure that the permitting process prioritizes EJ as a key consideration in the review process.
  6. Inspections, Compliance, and Enforcement guidance help the policy move beyond public participation in the permitting process and consider how DEP can be prioritized within regulatory limits after permits are approved.
  7. Community Development and Investments seeks to facilitate financial assistance to communities facing environmental justice issues.
  8. Climate Initiatives clarifies ways that EJ can be integrated in the climate action plan and other climate change related efforts.
  9. Policy Updates, the final section, specifies the review and revision cycles for the policy to ensure data reliability and applicability.

PennEnviroScreen Tool

The Pennsylvania Environmental Justice Mapping and Screening Tool (PennEnviroScreen) available online at The state-of-the-art mapping tool will allow DEP to more accurately identify communities facing environmental justice issues using 32 environmental, health, and socioeconomic indicators.

This tool will include new EJ Areas that will take effect on September 16, and will also show the EJ areas that have been identified under the old policy for permits and grant applications under review that are applicable to the 2004 mapping. If a DEP permit applicant plans to file a permit application on or after September 16, the applicant should consider using the new PennEnviroScreen tool to determine if the permit’s facility is in an environmental justice area. If a grant application is submitted in response to a grant application package published after September 16, then these EJ areas will apply.

DEP is developing videos to help introduce the PennEnviroScreen tool. There is a PennEnviroScreen methodology document that provides detail on the tool, targeted toward academics and researchers.

How can I comment on the EJ Policy?

After reviewing the interim final EJ Policy, there are several ways to comment on the EJ Policy; all will carry equal weight in consideration. Verbal comments will be collected through public hearings, and written comments can be sent through the Department’s eComment tool, email, or postal mail. There is no set format for comments, we simply want to hear your feedback.

Verbal Comments at Public Hearings

Persons wishing to reserve time to present testimony at a meeting must may use the registration forms (English) and (Spanish) or contact Jennifer McLuckie at (717) 772-5633 or at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing. Prior to each meeting, individuals are encouraged to visit the EJ webpage for the most current information for accessing each meeting.

Any members of the public wishing to observe the public comment meetings without providing testimony are also encouraged to register in advance to ensure there is adequate space for both the virtual and in-person comment meetings. If time allows, attendees who haven’t previously registered will be allowed to testify.

Registration (English)

Registration (Spanish)

Community Public Meeting Schedule

Wednesday, October 11, 2023, 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. Virtual

Thursday, October 12, 2023, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m., Ranshaw, PA (North Central) Shamokin Area
Brady Fire Company (Banquet Hall)
700 Maple Street
Ranshaw, PA 17866

Monday, October 16, 2023, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m., Scranton, PA (Northeast)
University of Scranton
Loyola Science Center
100 Linden Street, Room 133
Scranton, PA 18510

Wednesday, October 18, 2023, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m., Erie, PA (Northwest)
Erie Center for Arts & Technology
Ada Lawrence Community Room
650 East Avenue
Erie, PA 16503

Wednesday, October 18, 2023, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m., Pittsburgh, PA (Southwest)
North Side Institution GOGIC
Banquet Hall
302 West North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Thursday, October 19, 2023, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m., Harrisburg, PA (South Central)
YMCA Camp Curtin
2135 North Sixth Street
Harrisburg, PA 17110

Saturday, October 21, 2023, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., Chester, PA (Southeast)
ACCESS Community Center
701 Booth Street
Chester, PA 19013

Wednesday, October 25, 5 p.m. - 7 p.m., Virtual

Thursday, October 26, 2023, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m., Philadelphia, PA (Southeast)
Drexel University | Anthony J. Drexel Picture Gallery, Main Building, Third Floor
3141 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Sunday, October 29, 2023 – Public Comment Period Closes

Persons in need of accommodations as provided for in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 should contact (717) 783-4759 or through the Pennsylvania Hamilton Relay Service at (800) 654-5984 (TDD) or (800) 654-5988 (voice users) to discuss how the Department may accommodate their needs.

Contact: Questions regarding this policy can be directed to Jennifer McLuckie at or (717) 772-5633.

Attention: For those who speak other languages besides English, language assistance services can be made available to you. Call (717) 772-5633 or email

Atención: Si habla otro idioma que no sea inglés, los servicios de asistencia lingüística pueden estar disponibles para usted. Llame al (717) 772-5633 o envíe un correo electrónico

Written Comments

Commenters are encouraged to submit written comments using the Department's online eComment tool or by e-mail to Written comments may be mailed to the Technical Guidance Coordinator, Department of Environmental Protection, Policy Office, Rachel Carson State Office Building, P.O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063.

How can I spread the word about the EJ Policy?

We want input from as many Pennsylvanians as possible in updating the EJ Policy. We have made it easy for you to share information about the policy revision with your networks and community members in ways that is convenient to you.

Individuals can use this share kit to easily post on your social media accounts about the policy. Please contact our office with any questions. Sign up for the OEJ newsletter to stay involved in the update adoption process.

Organizations focusing on environmental justice concerns or communities can use this share kit to create newsletter articles, email blasts, and easily post on your social media accounts about the EJ Policy. Additionally, if you are holding a meeting during the public comment period that will reach communities facing environmental justice issues and would like OEJ to present about the EJ Policy, email with the request. We will try to present to as many organizations as we can.

Past Outreach During the Revision Efforts

2022 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 over 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.

Webinar Overview of Draft Environmental Justice Policy: Monday, March 28

DEP held a webinar on the draft Environmental Justice Policy on Monday, March 28 to raise awareness on the draft Policy and aid those interested in providing verbal or written testimony. A Spanish translated version of the webinar is available here. Formal suggestions and comments on the EJ Policy should be offered through writing or at a formal public hearing as described in the “How can I comment on the EJ Policy?” section on this webpage.

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.