PADEP Expected to Finalize New Environmental Justice Policy in Early 2024
On September 16, 2023, PADEP published its Interim-Final Environmental Justice Policy (the EJ Policy) in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and released an update to its environmental justice mapping tool (PennEnviroScreen). The EJ Policy expands upon prior versions of the policy to direct PADEP to consider and incorporate environmental justice principles in various aspects of its decision-making process. For permittees, the EJ Policy establishes enhanced public participation procedures for certain projects that are located or proposed to be located in or within 0.5 mile of an environmental justice area. Unlike prior iterations of the policy, PADEP will determine whether an area constitutes an environmental justice area based on a weighted index of both environmental indicators and population characteristics. For more information on the EJ Policy, please refer to our article summarizing the interim policy that was published in September 2023. PADEP is currently evaluating public comments received during the public comment period, which closed on November 30, 2023 and expects to finalize the EJ Policy in early 2024. Although it is not yet final, PADEP is currently implementing the EJ Policy. Applicants should be prepared to answer questions posed by PADEP regarding EJ Policy-applicability in their permit applications.