EPA to hold listening sessions on proposed new civil rights rules in 5 cities – Jan 11-29

In principle, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act is a powerful Environmental Justice tool that protects communities of color from adverse discriminatory impacts caused by Federally funded activities.  For example, the disparate negative environmental and health impacts on minority communities caused by the raising of the Bayonne Bridge by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are forbidden by Title VI.  

However, the EPA Office of Civil Rights has never made a formal finding of discrimination and has been widely viewed as ineffective by environmental organizations and within the EPA.

Following an Earthjustice campaign, and under new leadership, the EPA Office of Civil Rights has proposed new rules to strengthen Title VI civil rights enforcement by the EPA.

The agency is accepting public comments now, and holding public listening sessions in Chicago, Houston, Research Triangle Park, Oakland, and Washington D.C. this month. 

For background, check out the articles and posts below, and sign up for a session in the attached “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.”

What do you think?  Will these proposed rules help solve the problem?  Please share your thoughts by commenting here.

Civil Rights of North Shore Residents Violated By Bayonne Bridge Project Construction, NRDC Switchboard

External Compliance (Title VI) – New Developments!, EPA Office of Civil Rights

Announcing a Series of Actions to Strengthen EPA’s Civil Rights Program, EPA Connect 

EPA Begins ‘Wholesale Attempt’ to Fix Much-Criticized Office of Civil Rights, NBC News


Murmurs of change at the troubled EPA civil-rights office, Center for Public Integrity, September 2015

Environmental racism persists, and the EPA is one reason why, Center for Public Integrity, September 2015

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) from EPA’s Office of Civil Rights On December 1st, 2015
Administrator McCarthy sent to the Federal Register (FR) a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).

The NPRM will: 1) Reaffirm EPA’s discretion to initiate compliance reviews to ensure compliance with civil rights laws; 2) Provide EPA with the ability to request and receive compliance information from recipients on a regular basis; 3) Reaffirm EPA’s discretion to determine how to ensure the prompt, effective, and efficient resolution of its cases; and, 4) Reaffirm EPA’s enforcement discretion to tailor its approach to complaints to match their complexity, scope and nature.

The official version of the proposed rule titled https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/12/14/2015-31050/nondiscrimination-in-programs-or-activities-receiving-federal-assistance-from-the-environmental was published in the Federal Register on December 14, 2015. We are seeking formal public comment on the NPRM. Please select the link above to read and submit your comments.

EPA will hold listening sessions regarding the proposed modifications in five cities around the country. At these sessions, attendees will hear more information on the proposed modifications and have an opportunity to submit written or oral comments. Please register to attend using the links provided under each city:

January 11, 2016 – Chicago, Illinois Chicago Session 3:00PM–6:30PM

January 12, 2016 – Houston, Texas Houston Session A 3:00PM–5:30PM Houston Session B6:00PM – 8:00PM

January 15, 2016 – Research Triangle Park, NC Research Triangle Park Session A 9:30AM – 1:30PM Research Triangle Park Session B 4:00PM – 7:30PM

January 20, 2016 – Oakland, California Oakland Session A 9:30AM – 12:00PM Oakland Session B 1:30PM – 4:00PM Oakland Session C 4:30PM – 8:00PM

January 29, 2016 – Washington, DC Washington DC Session A 1:30PM–4:30PM Washington DC Session B 5:00PM–7:00PM

For more information, please head to epa.gov/ocr

If you are not already a member, the Office of Environmental Justice would like to invite you to join the EJ ListServ. The purpose of this information tool is to notify individuals about activities at EPA in the field of environmental justice. By subscribing to this list you will receive information on EPA’s activities, programs, projects grants and about environmental justice activities at other agencies. Noteworthy news items, National meeting announcements, meeting summaries of NEJAC meetings, and new publication notices will also be distributed. Postings can only be made by the Office of Environmental Justice. To request an item to be posted, send your information to environmental-justice@epa.gov and indicate in the subject “Post to EPA-EJ ListServ”

To join the listserv go to: https://lists.epa.gov/read/all_forums/subscribe?name=epa-ej