Wednesday, September 20, 2006

OIG Says EPA Not Conducting Environmental Justice Reviews

The EPA Office of Inspector General has issued the results of its survey, which shows that EPA senior management has not sufficiently directed program and regional offices to conduct environment justice reviews in accordance with Executive Order 12898. Consequently, the majority of respondents reported their programs or offices have not performed environmental justice reviews. Though some offices may not be subject to an environmental justice review, the respondents expressed a need for further guidance to conduct reviews, including protocols, a framework, or additional directions. Until these program and regional offices perform environmental justice reviews, the Agency cannot determine whether its programs cause disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority and low-income populations.

The EPA OIG recommended that the Deputy Administrator:

(1) Require the Agency’s program and regional offices to identify which programs, policies, and activities need environmental justice reviews and require these offices to establish a plan to complete the necessary reviews.
(2) Ensure that environmental justice reviews determine whether the programs, policies, and activities may have a disproportionately high and adverse health or environmental impact on minority and low-income populations.
(3) Require each program and regional office to develop, with the assistance of the Office of Environmental Justice, specific environmental justice review guidance, which includes protocols, a framework, or directions for conducting environmental justice reviews.
(4) Designate a responsible office to (a) compile the results of environmental justice reviews, and (b) recommend appropriate actions to review findings and make recommendations to the decisionmaking office’s senior leadership.

The Agency accepted the OIG's recommendations.

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