After years of preparation and collaboration, an updated Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Environmental Justice Policy is available for official public comment from now until May 11th. The draft policy moves beyond the public participation in the permitting process – it looks at ways DEP can further environmental justice goals in compliance, enforcement, grantmaking, and other aspects of DEP’s work. DEP will host three virtual public hearings in April to accept verbal public comment. Written public comment is also always welcome. Read the updated policy, view the public hearing dates, and learn how to comment at the EJ Policy Revision webpage. The changes that have been discussed and devised with stakeholders for years, including small businesses, are now assembled in a draft policy that has eight sections.
- General Information includes definitions, history and background, a description of the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ), and the Environmental Justice Advisory Board (EJAB).
- Permit Review Process is the process around implementing additional public input around particular permits when they are submitted.
- Community Input describes a range of opportunities for public input throughout and before the permit review process.
- Oil and Gas Public Engagement was a major need identified by community members and was included in the fourth section.
- Inspections, Compliance, and Enforcement guidance helps the policy move beyond public participation in the permitting process and are covered in the fifth section.
- Climate Initiatives spells out ways that EJ can be included in the climate action plan and other efforts.
- Community Development and Investments look to ways to financially assist communities facing environmental justice issues in the seventh section.
- Policy Updates, the final section, specifies that the policy should be reviewed for updates regularly to ensure that the policy continues to address community concerns.