January 7, 2002
State releases recommendations on "environmental justice"
The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released a series of recommendations to address concerns about how minority and low-income communities are treated in environmental decision-making.
The report was developed by an 18-person Environmental Justice Advisory Group which included representatives from environmental and "environmental justice" organizations, businesses (including The Business Council and several member firms), municipalities, and state agencies.
While the report focuses on the incorporation of "environmental justice" considerations into the environmental permitting process, it addresses other aspects of state environmental programs as well, including state financing of environmental projects.
Key recommendations include:
- DEC should issue public notices when it first receives a permit application instead of when DEC determines that an application is complete. This will give the public more timely notice of pending projects.
- DEC should enhance its public-information efforts in minority and low-income communities that could be affected by proposed projects, and, in some cases, should make technical assistance grants available to community groups to help them assess potential environmental impacts.
- The state's Environmental Quality Review Act regulations should be amended to require: an assessment of whether the proposed project will have any significant, adverse, and disproportionate impacts on minority and low-income communities; and consideration of alternatives for avoiding or mitigating disproportionate environmental impacts identified as part of an environmental impact statement.