The EPA is seeking comments on a newly released, revised guidance document regarding the consideration of environmental justice (EJ) concerns in the rulemaking process. The guidance document updates a 2016 version and incorporates new scientific developments, other EPA guidance, and new priorities and policies.
The guidance document sets forth both analytical expectations for an EJ analysis, as well as technical methods and approaches that can be used to evaluate EJ concerns for a particular action. Under the guidance document, an EJ analysis should seek to answer the following:
- Baseline: are there existing EJ concerns that are affected by the action for groups of concern?
- Regulatory options: are these EJ concerns impacted by the regulatory action?
- Mitigation or exacerbation of impacts: will EJ concerns be exacerbated, mitigated, or unchanged by the regulatory action compared to the baseline?
In analyzing these three questions, the guidance proposes consideration of a variety of methods and approaches, including both quantitative and qualitative data. EPA will consider the impacts of things like exposure to multiple stressors, cumulative exposures, and the susceptibility of a particular population to an adverse health effect (including potential lack of access to healthcare).
While the guidance is directed at EPA and considerations it must undertake when going through rulemaking, it will impact the manufacturing community in a variety of ways. First, a more detailed EJ analysis could delay implementation of a variety of environmental regulations or actions that will impact manufacturers. Second, it may result in the need for manufacturers to provide or generate information to support EPA in its analysis. Further, the continued focus on EJ, and this guidance in particular, will likely result in increased public access to the quantitative and qualitative data that is considered during an EJ analysis.
EPA will be hosting two webinars in December on the revised guidance. Any comments must be received by EPA on or before January 15, 2024.