EPA Releases Updated Legal Guidance to Advance Environmental Justice

Sean T. O'Neill

Published

On May 26th, the EPA released an update of its Legal Tools to Advance Environmental justice – a compilation of the legal authorities it relies upon to protect public health and the environment for all persons in EJ and all communities. The tool kit replaces the “Plan EJ 2014 Legal Tools” and provides a review of laws and legal authorities that can be used to address environmental justice issues. The release of the updated “Legal Tools” demonstrates the continued emphasis on environmental justice across federal agencies under the Biden administration. ​ 

What You Need to Know:

  • Companies that operate under EPA permits or which require EPA approval for projects should review the updated Legal Tools and be prepared to address the environmental justice aspects and impacts of any project.
  • Federal agencies under the Biden administration continue to place an emphasis on addressing environmental justice issues in permitting and environmental reviews.

Key takeaways from the EJ Tools Update:

  1. They address all of the major programs EPA manages.
  2. They recognize the role of State Planning and Permitting.
  3. They recognize the role of Federally Recognized Indian Tribes.
  4. They outline the environmental review process and EPA’s NEPA obligations.
  5. They identify the role of civil rights laws in federal assistance programs.
  6. They provide a roadmap for the agency and EPA communities in issuing and obtaining grants, assistance agreements and procurements.
  7. They outline the Freedom of Information process.

 Given the continued emphasis on environmental justice, companies that operate under EPA permits or which require EPA approval for projects should review the updated Legal Tools and anticipate an emphasis on the environmental justice aspects and impacts of any project under the applicable statute. Saul Ewing’s attorneys are ready to answer any questions regarding the Legal Tools and assist with navigating these issues in the permitting process.​

Authors
Sean T. O'Neill