Frequent Questions

What is the origin of Environmental Justice at EPA?

Early in 1990, the Congressional Black Caucus, a bi-partisan coalition of academicians, social scientists and political activists met with EPA officials to discuss their findings that EPA was unfairly applying its enforcement inspections and that environmental risk was higher in racial minority and low-income populations. In response, the EPA Administrator created the Environmental Equity Workgroup in July 1990 to address the allegation that "racial minority and low-income populations bear a higher environmental risk burden than the general population."

The Workgroup produced a final report "Reducing Risk in All Communities" Volumes I and II in June 1992 which supported the allegation and made ten recommendations for addressing the problem. One of the recommendations was to create an office to address these inequities. The Office of Environmental   Equity was established November 6, 1992. The name was changed to Office of Environmental Justice in 1994.

Since the Office was created there have been significant efforts across  EPA to integrate environmental justice into how the Agency conducts its day-to-day operations. Information on these activities can be found throughout the Agency. Every Headquarters Office and Region has an environmental justice coordinator to serve as a focal point within the organization. This network of individuals plays a key role in outreach and education to external as well as internal individuals and organizations. Many questions are received concerning environmental justice and some of the more frequently asked questions seemed a good way to explain what EPA has done and plans to do in the future.

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