Rachel McDevittRachel McDevitt is a reporter at StateImpact Pennsylvania at WITF.
Rachel joined WITF as the host for All Things Considered in 2017. She previously worked as a reporter at WITF Radio Pennsylvania Network. There, her work won the National Association of State Radio Networks award in the best feature category for two years. The native of Pennsylvania started her journalism career at the CBS affiliate, Bridgeport, West Virginia. Rachel is a Temple University graduate.
Pennsylvania’s environmental regulator wants be a better resource for communities with high levels of pollution.
It expects to release a draft next year of its new policy on environmental justice.
Low-income communities and communities are considered to be environmental justice areas if they have to bear more of the climate and environmental risks that could affect people’s health.
The Department of Environmental Protection considers these areas to be those where at least 20% of the population lives in poverty and 30% are non-white minorities. There are no additional regulations to regulate polluting plants.
Allison Acevedo is the director of the Office of Environmental Justice. She said that they are currently working on an internal policy to improve oversight in these areas.
Acevedo stated that they are trying to find ways to provide additional support to communities and have some accountability.
One part of that is posting a list with trigger permits so that those in affected areas know when a company plans move in.
The office plans to collaborate with an academic partner in order to refine the definitions of EJ areas.
Acevedo said that we need to consider other environmental and demographic factors. Also, really thinking about whether or not there may be PA-specific data points we could use.
The office will also create and publish a map that allows you to easily identify these indicators.
It will review its approach every five-years in a strategic planning.
Acevedo stated she hopes to have more information on how the public can weigh-in on the policy in 2022.
Governor Tom Wolf signed an October agreement. Governor Tom Wolf signed an Executive orderFormalizing the Office of Environmental Justice, and making it a higher priority within DEP.