EPA recently collected comments on its draft technical guidance telling agency staff how they should account for environmental justice-related impacts in rulemaking activities. The guidance includes important procedural questions like how the agency should engage impacted communities, how to consider cumulative impacts, and how to address EJ-related data gaps. The 2023 draft guidance updates EPA’s current 2016 Technical Guidance.
EELP convened members of the Title VI Alliance to draft comments on EPA’s updated guidance. The final letter includes seven recommendations on how the current draft guidance could be improved:
- Applicability: EPA should specify which regulatory actions are subject to the Guidance to ensure consistent application;
- Outcome-Driven: the agency’s EJ analysis should drive regulatory standards as permissible by law;
- Alternatives: EPA must explain when and how to consider regulatory alternatives to minimize EJ-related impacts;
- Data Gaps: there should be a clear plan when data needed for an EJ analysis are limited or unavailable;
- Risk-Based Decision-Making: The Guidance should give recommendations on how to address the acknowledged limits of risk-based decision-making;
- Considering Cumulative Risks: The Guidance should account for recent developments in assessing cumulative risk and non-chemical stressors, including climate change-related impacts; and
- Meaningful Engagement: The Guidance’s meaningful engagement requirements should reference and be consistent with EPA’s Meaningful Involvement Policy.