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Failed PromisesEvaluating the Federal Government's Response to Environmental Justice$
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David M. Konisky

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262028837

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262028837.001.0001

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Federal Environmental Justice Policy in Permitting

Federal Environmental Justice Policy in Permitting

(p.57) 3 Federal Environmental Justice Policy in Permitting
Failed Promises

Eileen Gauna

The MIT Press

This chapter examines federal environmental justice policy in the area of facility permitting. The chapter provides a detailed analysis of how distributive and procedural environmental justice issues have been adjudicated in several venues important to permitting under major environmental statutes such as the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Much of the analysis focuses on the decisions of the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB), which is responsible for adjudicating administrative appeals of permitting decisions under the major laws that the EPA implements. The author argues that challenges to new permits brought to the EAB on the grounds of disparate impacts to low-income and minority communities have largely been unsuccessful. As a result, there is little evidence that the EPA has integrated environmental justice concerns directly into permitting decisions, although the EAB does now as matter of practice require that EPA permit writers perform an environmental justice analysis and invite broad participation in permitting decisions. The chapter also examines recent policy developments as part of Plan EJ 2014 and the EPA’s implementation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which provides some reason for optimism for future consideration of disparate impacts in federal and state permitting decisions.

Keywords:   Environmental justice, Permitting, Environmental Appeals Board, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Administrative appeals, Disparate impact, Health-based standards

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