Public Comments Sought for PA’s New Environmental Justice Policy

Updated: Sep 9

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is releasing a draft Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy that strengthens language on how it oversees and participates in environmental justice priorities and reform with community partners. 


The public comment period on the policy is open through Wednesday, May 11.


The EJ Policy will help shape and guide DEP’s involvement in environmental justice areas. Since 2004, DEP and the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) have engaged with various stakeholders, including DEP staff, community residents, and the Environmental Justice Advisory Board, to make sure a just and fair commitment to vulnerable communities is made.


The EJ Policy includes several sections to expand and improve upon the existing Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy which has been in effect since 2004. 


The current EJ Policy includes several sections:

  1. General Information, which includes definitions, history and background, a description of DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice, and the Environmental Justice Advisory Board. 

  2. Description of the Permit Review Process and Community Input. This is the process for collecting additional public input for a list of particular permits. 

  3. Oil and Gas Public Engagement, which was a major need identified by community members.  

  4. Inspections, Compliance, and Enforcement guidance to expand the policy beyond public participation in the permitting process.

  5. Climate Initiatives, which spell out ways that environmental justice can be included in DEP’s climate action plan and other efforts. 

  6. Opportunities for Community Development and Investments, which considers opportunities to financially assist communities facing environmental justice issues.

  7. Policy Updates, which specifies that the policy should be reviewed for updates regularly to ensure that the policy continues to address community concerns.

DEP will hold three virtual public hearings for the purpose of accepting comments on the Draft Environmental Justice Policy. The hearings will be held as follows:

  1. 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5 (Web Link, Audio conference: +1-415-655-0003, Access code: 2630 690 8427)

  2. 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12 (Web Link, Audio conference: +1-415-655-0003, Access code: 2633 346 6724)

  3. Noon on Thursday, April 28 (Web Link, Audio conference: +1-415-655-0003, Access code: 2633 980 7600)

Persons wishing to present testimony at a hearing must contact Glenda Davidson, 717-783-4759 or RA-EPOEJ@pa.gov, at least 24 hours in advance, to reserve a time to present testimony. Language interpretation services are available upon request. Persons in need of language interpretation services must contact Davidson at RA-EPOEJ@pa.gov or at 717-783-4759 at least one week in advance.


Verbal testimony is limited to five minutes for each person. Organizations are limited to designating one person to present testimony on their behalf at one hearing. The hearings will be held through WebEx. People may provide testimony by means of telephone or WebEx teleconference. Video demonstrations and screen sharing by those presenting testimony will not be permitted. 


Members of the public wishing to observe a virtual public hearing without providing testimony are able to view these hearings using the links above. Those who have not registered in advance as described previously will remain muted for the duration of the public hearing. 


For submitting written comments, commenters are encouraged to submit comments using DEP’s online eComment tool at https://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eComment/ or by e-mail to ecomment@pa.gov.


Written comments may be mailed to the Technical Guidance Coordinator, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Policy Office, Rachel Carson State Office Building, P.O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063.


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