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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.

Materials

Background

On 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increase threats to public health and the environment without producing compensatory benefits and, therefore, should be repealed.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:

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.

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