Maxwell Bernstein | July 22, 2020
The Environmental Agency’s Office of Inspector General set the integration of environmental justice into the agency as a priority, according to a letter from the inspector general.
“Across the country, communities of low-income and people of color live adjacent to heavily polluted industries or “hot spots” of chemical pollution,” the inspector general said. “For example, studies show that 70 percent of hazardous waste sites officially listed on the National Priorities List under Superfund are located within one mile of federally assisted housing.”
The inspector general addressed gaps in environmental justice when it came to air quality management, drinking water, toxic releases to surface waters, Superfund sites, emergency response, and environmental education. The EPA laid out a plan to improve environmental justice through:
- Setting standards and regulations
- Facility permitting decisions
- Grant awards
- Reviews of proposed federal agency actions
- Enforcement decisions
The EPA’s map tool Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (EJSCREEN) provides maps of environmental hazards and demographics to help inform the public when it comes to environmental justice concerns.