EPA Focuses on Integration of Environmental Justice into its Programs and Policies

Environmental Law


EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has made it her objective and priority to integrate environmental justice into the agency’s policies, practices, and activities. One result of this endeavor is EPA’s Plan EJ 2014. Plan EJ 2014 is not a rule or regulation, rather it is a road map and strategy for integrating environmental justice throughout EPA’s programs and policies.

The EPA defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”

Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of President Clinton’s issuance of Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, the EPA will use Plan EJ 2014 to empower communities to take action to improve their health and environment and engage stakeholders in these populations to partner with local, state, tribal, and federal organizations to achieve healthy and sustainable communities.

Although Plan EJ 2014 will not promulgate hard caps or mandatory rules, the purpose of this mission is to build stronger relationships with communities overburdened by environmental and health hazards. Engaging and supporting these communities as they get involved with the decision-making process will allow the communities to improve their conditions. In 2014, the EPA will assess the objectives of Plan EJ 2014 to determine the successes and failures, and the lessons learned. Overburdened communities should not be forced to accept environmental and health hazards. To protect them, Plan EJ 2014 will integrate environmental justice into all facets of the agency action and make environmental justice a crucial part of every EPA decision.

For more information on environmental law, including environmental justice issues and EPA policies and practices, please contact Miriam Villani or Jason Kaplan.

Posted by Miriam Villani

LIPA Encouraging Solar Energy Through $15,000 Offer to Towns

Environmental Law


In order to encourage the use of solar power, LIPA is offering Long Island townships $15,000 to pass legislation by December 31, 2011, that will fast-track permitting of solar panels for residential homes.

The legislation LIPA is encouraging the towns to pass will eliminate the $150 permit application fee, or reduce the fee to $50, and require permit approval within 14 days. Fast-tracking the application process will allow homeowners to quickly install solar panels on their homes. There may be two hiccups in this speedy permit application process. First, if the home is in a historic district, a review by the landmark preservation group will delay the process and the permit will not be issued within the two week mandatory issuance period. The second obstacle will occur if not all structures on a property are legal. Under current building department policies, the issuance of permits is dependent on all buildings being legal, so if any illegal structures exist on the property, such as sheds or building extensions, the fast-track process could not be applied and issuance would be delayed.

LIPA’s financial contribution to Long Island townships can kickstart residential solar panel use, reduce the traditional electricity load, and incentivize “going green.” It should be considered by all Long Island townships.

For more information on energy and environmental law, please contact Miriam Villani or Jason Kaplan.

Posted by Miriam Villani