Environmental Justice Analysis for the Definition of Solid Waste Final Rule
EPA has committed to conducting an expanded environmental justice (EJ) analysis for the October 2008 Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) final rule.
- Draft Environmental Justice Methodology for the Definition of Solid Waste Rule (PDF) (40 pp, 208K, About PDF) – EPA has developed a draft methodology for conducting the environmental justice analysis for the Definition of Solid Waste final rule. EPA is sharing this draft framework in order to begin a public dialogue on the approach so we can make improvements to the methodology before conducting the analysis.
- Public Roundtables on the Draft Environmental Justice Methodology – Information regarding recent public roundtables EPA has hosted to get input from stakeholders, particularly those potentially affected by the DSW rule, on the draft methodology and how to best conduct the EJ analysis of the DSW final rule.
BackgroundOn October 30, 2008, EPA published a change to the hazardous waste regulations entitled Revisions to the Definition of Solid Waste, also known as the “DSW rule.” The DSW rule creates specific conditions for recycling hazardous secondary materials. These conditions are different from hazardous waste requirements; as long as the conditions of the DSW rule are met, the hazardous secondary materials are not defined as “solid waste” and therefore are not subject to hazardous waste requirements.
EPA’s goal in promulgating the DSW rule was to make it more efficient to safely recycle these materials instead of landfilling or incinerating them, and to resolve uncertainty about when materials that are sent to recycling are regulated “solid wastes” and when they are more like commodities.
On January 29, 2009, the Sierra Club submitted an administrative petition requesting that EPA repeal the DSW rule. The petition argues that the revised regulations are unlawful and that they increase threats to public health and the environment without producing compensatory benefits and, therefore, should be repealed. In particular, the petition disagrees with the Agency’s findings that the rule would have no adverse environmental impacts, including no adverse impact to minority or low-income communities.
On June 30, 2009, EPA held a public meeting to allow the public and interested stakeholders to provide input to the decision-making process in responding to Sierra Club’s administrative petition. Many commenters expressed strong concerns that the Agency did not adequately address Environmental Justice in the rulemaking. In response to these concerns, EPA has committed to conducting an expanded analysis of the Environmental Justice impacts of the DSW rule.
Conducting the DSW Environmental Justice Analysis will consist of several steps:
- Draft Environmental Justice Methodology for the Definition of Solid Waste Rule (PDF) (40 pp, 208K, About PDF) -- the problem-formulation stage of the analysis, a critical early step in determining which types of analytical approaches to use.
- Stakeholder engagement -- EPA held several public roundtables to get input on the draft methodology from interested stakeholders, particularly those potentially affected by the rulemaking, in order to make improvements, as appropriate, to the approach before conducting the analysis.
- Conducting the Analysis -- once the DSW EJ Methodology is complete, EPA will then conduct the EJ analysis.
- Stakeholder engagement -- EPA plans to share the completed EJ analysis with stakeholders for their input and to conduct a peer review.
- Support decision-making – EPA will use the completed EJ analysis in deciding how to respond to the Sierra Club’s petition concerning the DSW Final Rule. The public will have an opportunity to formally comment on EPA’s tentative decision, as well as on the completed EJ analysis and on other supporting documents, when EPA publishes the tentative decision in the Federal Register.
How To Participate in the Public Dialogue About the Draft DSW EJ Analysis Methodology
There will be upcoming opportunities to engage with this effort; send an email to DSWPublicMeeting@epa.gov or call Tracy Atagi at 703-308-8672 to request to be added to the DSW Environmental Justice mailing list to receive the latest information.