- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the "EJ 2020 Action Agenda," its second strategic environmental justice plan, to address key issues in low-income, minority and indigenous communities, as reported by The Hill.
- The plan's three main goals are to "deepen environmental justice practice in EPA’s programs that improve the health and environment of overburdened communities;" "work with federal, state, tribal, community, and industry partners to expand our impact across the country;" and "measure the progress we’re making on our most significant environmental justice challenges."
- EJ 2020 focuses on a number of priorities across four key areas: lead disparities, drinking water, air quality and hazardous waste sites.
This follows the EPA's EJ 2014 plan and comes amid heavy criticism of the agency's response to issues such as the Flint water crisis and the disposal of coal ash in Uniontown, AL. In a recent report the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said the agency had "failed miserably in its mandate to protect communities of color from environmental hazards" and was more focused on process than outcomes.
In a blog post on the plan, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy recognized that "we still have a lot of work to do" and called for moving forward together "in a more productive and holistic way." While not directly linked to EJ 2020, the EPA's recently finalized rule changes on the shipping and processing of hazardous waste could be seen as a step in that direction. The agency's ongoing Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training program also aims to benefit residents in communities affected by these issues.
Environmental justice is sometimes raised as an issue by residents living near landfills and, as noted in the EJ 2020 plan, emissions in high-traffic areas near transfer stations or other waste-related facilities are also a concern. This has been cited as a factor in New York's proposed commercial waste franchising plan. New federal emissions standards have encouraged companies to begin switching to cleaner fuels which may help.