What is Environmental Justice?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines environmental justice, as fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Fair treatment means that no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental, or commercial operations, or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal programs and policies. Meaningful involvement means that potentially affected community residents have an appropriate opportunity to participate in decision-making about a proposed activity that will affect their environment and/or health.
Environmental justice is an integral part of Region 4's mission. The Region, states, tribes, and affected communities work together to ensure equitable environmental and public health protection through effective implementation of policies and procedures.
In the southeast, the Environmental Justice Program is responsible for integrating environmental justice into the region's programs, policies, and procedures. Also, the Program promotes the integration of environmental justice into local, state, and federal government programs, policies, and procedures. In addition, the Program encourages stakeholder involvement in environmental justice by providing workshops and training.
Other major functions of the Program include managing environmental justice grants and processing environmental justice inquiries and complaints. The grants are awarded on an annual basis to eligible community groups and federally recognized 2 governments that are working on or planning to carry out projects to address environmental justice issues. Inquiries and complaints are reported to the Environmental Violations web site.