Office of Environmental Justice
The Office of Environmental Justice was established as a point of contact for Pennsylvania residents in low income areas and areas with a higher number of minorities. Its primary goal is to increase communities' environmental awareness and involvement in the DEP permitting process. To find out more information about permitting actions in your area, sign up for eNOTICE.
What is Environmental Justice?
Environmental justice embodies the principles that communities and populations should not be disproportionally exposed to adverse environmental impacts. Historically, minority and low-income Pennsylvanians have been forced to bear a disproportionate share of adverse environmental impacts. It is our duty to ensure that all Pennsylvanians, especially those that have typically been disenfranchised, are meaningfully involved in the decisions that affect their environment and that all communities are not unjustly and/or disproportionally burden with adverse environmental impacts. Simply put, environmental justice ensures that everyone has an equal seat at the table.
The Office of Environmental Justice fulfills a critical role within DEP – ensuring that the Pennsylvanians most at risk from pollution and other environmental impacts have a voice in the decision-making process.
In 2015, the Office of Environmental Advocate was reconstituted to reflect the commitment to justice and became the Office of Environmental Justice. The OEJ's mission is to help the DEP ensure the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people with the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental policies, regulation, and laws; as well as with respect to the identification of environmental issues that affect the most vulnerable communities.
The DEP Secretary appoints 15 individuals to an
Environmental Justice Advisory Board, which reviews and makes recommendations to DEP management on existing and proposed regulations and policies that impact the environmental health of communities, in keeping with the mission of the Office of Environmental Justice.
- To ensure that DEP maintains a proactive approach to Environmental Justice issues within Pennsylvania;
- To eliminate any existing environmental disparities in minority and low-income communities;
- To engage, educate and empower minority and low-income communities to become active participants in the permit review process and compliance assistance program;
- To ensure equitable enforcement of regulations and statutes, and the equitable application of internal guidance and policies within minority and low-income communities;
- Increase the level of environmental monitoring in minority and low-income communities;
- To fill the gaps and oversee the implementation of the Environmental Justice Work Group recommendations that were published in June 2001;
- To identify and promote action against environmental inequities in Pennsylvania; and
- To determine whether DEP's current decision-making process can adequately address environmental justice issues.