U.S.: EPA Strengthens Environmental Justice Enforcement Efforts

On January 19, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA” or “Agency”) announced plans to step up its enforcement efforts to prevent environmental violations. The Agency plans to focus more attention on preventative measures–such as compliance– that will reduce the incidence of community exposure to pollutants and help further the EPA’s goal of achieving environmental justice (“EJ”). EJ is a key priority for EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Minority communities frequently complain of the disproportionate environmental burdens placed on residents. To date, much of the Agency’s emphasis has been on increasing the dialogue between EJ communities and industry to ensure that stakeholders have a voice in the process. One enforcement tool that the Agency will likely rely on even more heavily to reduce the incidence of community exposure to pollutants is Clean Air Act Section 114 Requests. Section 114 of the Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to seek information about potential investigations before a violation occurs, with the goal of preventing future violations.

 

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