Mar 30, 2022
Pennsylvania is updating its 21 year-old environmental justice program to include communities close to natural gas drilling and those who are disproportionately affected due climate change.
The draft revisionsAlso, we want to improve the approval process of projects that could have adverse environmental effects in areas with low-income residents and minorities. We aim to share information and get feedback earlier in the project’s development rather than during the state’s permit process.
The revised policy states, “Minority or low-income communities have suffered disproportionately from environmental hazards in their communities and have not been afforded equitable opportunities to take part in decisions that may adversely impact their environment.”
In addition to requiring public meetings between project developers and government officials the state Department of Environmental Protection stated it will prioritize inspections of communities that are involved in environmental justice. It may also increase civil sanctions in areas of environmental justice.
After years of criticisms from these communities, the state is making changes in the policy.
Based on U.S. Census data, the current state policy defines such areas to be communities where at least 20% identify themselves as “a non White minority.”
The existing policy, which has been in force since 2004, lists examples of projects that could trigger environmental justice actions.
The state has revised its policy to require that managers of fracking operations host community meetings every year to review the activities. It also directs Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan to inform local environmental justice communities of strategies that can help mitigate the impacts from climate change.
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