Pa. DEP plans to release environmental justice policy in 2022

Written by on December 23, 2021

Pa. DEP plans to release environmental justice policy in 2022

By Rachel McDevitt

December 23, 2021

Industrial facilities like the Clairton Coke Works in Allegheny County are sources of fine particulate pollution. (Photo | Reid Frazier/The Allegheny Front)

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania’s environmental regulator wants to be a better resource for communities that have a historically high pollution burden. 

It hopes to release a draft of its new environmental justice policy next year. 

Environmental justice areas include low-income neighborhoods and communities of color that shoulder more than a typical share of climate and environmental risks that can affect people’s health.

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While the Department of Environmental Protection recognizes those areas, there are no additional regulations for polluting facilities there. 

Allison Acevedo, director of Environmental Justice at the Pennsylvania DEP, said they’re working on an internal policy to better guide oversight in those areas.

“We’re trying to think of ways to both have some accountability and provide additional supports to communities,” Acevedo said. 

The office plans to work with an academic partner to fine tune the definition of an EJ area, using Pennsylvania-specific information. 

“We want to think about other environmental and environmental health and demographic factors, kind of looking to EJ screen as a guide but really thinking about whether or not there are any PA-specific data points that we may use,” Acevedo said. 

It will also create a map to more easily see those indicators. And it will revise its approach every five years in a strategic plan. 


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