U.S. EPA OLEM September 2022 EJ Action Plan: What you need to know
Posted: November 3rd, 2022Authors: Karen T.
In September 2022 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM) published their Environmental Justice (EJ) Plan – EJ Action Plan: Building Up Environmental Justice in EPA’s Land Protection and Cleanup Programs. Back in February, ALL4 highlighted anticipated changes OLEM planned based on the initial Draft Plan. The final Plan has not changed much from the draft.
The OLEM EJ Action Plan has a four-pillar approach:
- Strengthen Compliance
- Incorporate EJ Considerations
- Improve Community Engagement
- Justice 40
WHAT ACTION IS OLEM TAKING?
Under the pillar of strengthening compliance, OLEM is focusing on specific programs including the Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA), Risk Management Plan (RMP) rule updates, Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC), and Facility Response Plans (FRP). For Indian Territories, resources will be allocated to enhancing Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).
- RCRA: U.S. EPA, under “Good Governance,” has started developing processes and tools meant to track and follow up with the general public when concerns are raised in public meetings that may be outside the scope of RCRA.
- RMP regulation: U.S. EPA published the proposed rule August 31, 2022 in the Federal Register (FR) to reincorporate key prevention and response measures of the 2017 RMP Amendments rule. It also proposes additional requirements for accident prevention programs at facilities that are in or near EJ communities. U.S. EPA is taking comments until October 31, 2022. The final rule is expected in summer 2023.
- Inspections of facilities with SPCC Plans and FRP: U.S. EPA plans to analyze facilities in EJ communities that are required to have SPCC Plans or FRPs in place during the 2022 fiscal year. These inspections are continuing. Once the initial analyses are complete, U.S. EPA plans to increase inspections for facilities, targeting locations or sectors that are more likely to be non-compliant and in EJ communities. These enhanced inspections will continue through fiscal year 2025.
- Use of Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology (ASPECT) to provide continuous evaluation missions (CEMs): U.S. EPA plans to use ASPECT to provide CEMs for EJ communities, climate change, and enforcement. CEMs would be specific air missions flown to characterize chemical pollutants in communities of concern, produce EJ-focused data products highlighting data coverage, and collect air quality data to support state/federal air quality standard violations enforcement. This is expected to be fully operational in 5 to 7 years depending on funding.
Under EJ considerations, Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facility (TSDF) Universe Analysis and Mapping is an initial analysis of about 3,777 Corrective Action facilities using EJSCREEN indicators and a longer-term RCRA TSDF universe mapping effort and analysis of about 8,000 facilities to identify potentially vulnerable communities and areas that would benefit from increased funding and support. This initiative will map and provide publicly available information on RCRA TSDF sites and could affect future permitting of new or existing sites within EJ communities. Further, the EJ screening tools will be applied to assist in evaluating Superfund Sites.
While the EJ Action Plan provides actions in multiple areas, including community assistance, ALL4 has concentrated on areas that result in or may result in changes to regulations that affect your facility’s compliance. While improvements to community engagement and Justice 40 are important, the actions are more internal facing to the agency to achieve the outcomes. ALL4 will continue to monitor EJ developments and provide periodic updates. If you have any questions, please reach out to either Rich Hamel, firstname.lastname@example.org or Karen Thompson, email@example.com.