By Andrew H. Perellis, Meagan Newman, and Craig B. Simonsen

iStock_000006465423MediumThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking “input” on its Draft Environmental Justice (EJ) 2020 Action Agenda framework (EJ 2020).

EPA expects that the EJ 2020 will advance environmental justice through EPA programs, policies, and activities, and it is intended to support cross-agency strategy for environmental justice in environmentally overburdened, underserved, and economically distressed communities.

Under the draft EJ 2020 strategy, over next five years EPA will focus on:

  • Deepening environmental justice progress in EPA programs to improve the health and environment of overburdened communities.
  • Collaborating with partners to expand EPA impact in overburdened communities.
  • Demonstrating progress on outcomes that matter to overburdened communities.

In a recent blog by Mustafa Santiago Ali, the Acting Senior Advisor on Environmental Justice to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, stated that the last five-year strategic plan (EJ 2014) laid a “foundation for integrating environmental justice in EPA’s programs by developing basic guidance in rulemaking, permitting and enforcement…. Now it is time to build on this foundation and expand collaborations with our partners toward making a bigger difference in the overburdened communities we serve.”

EPA is hosting two national webinars on the draft EJ 2020, on May 7 and May 14, 2015. Interested parties should RSVP to attend  the EJ 2020 webinars.

While the EPA is seeking “input,” it also states directly that “EJ 2020 is a strategy for advancing environmental justice … It is not a rule.” Emphasis in the original. So while EPA may be accepting comments on the “strategy,” the EPA is not handling this as a rulemaking, so don’t expect responses to comments that are submitted.

For employers and businesses, especially those in impacted communities, the EJ 2020 strategy may impact business projects, such as process changes, new permits, or permit modifications.

Written comments are due by June 15, 2015, and should be sent to