External Civil Rights Compliance Office- New Developments!

On July 7, 2017, ECRCO issued a Closure Letter for Administrative Complaint Nos. 03R-07-R9 and 11R-98-R9, involving the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). The complaints alleged generally that ADEQ violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the EPA’s nondiscrimination regulation found at 40 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Part 7.

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On June 7, 2017, ECRCO issued a Closure Letter for Administrative Complaint Nos. 03R-07-R9, 10R-07-R9, and 01R-11-R9, involving the Maricopa County Air Quality Department (MCAQD). The complaints alleged generally that MCAQD violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the EPA’s nondiscrimination regulation found at 40 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Part 7.

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On May 23, 2017, EPA’s External Civil Rights Compliance Office (ECRCO) issued a Resolution Letter resolving an administrative complaint (EPA File # 01R-00-R6) based on an Informal Resolution Agreement entered into between EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The complaint alleged discrimination based on race, in violation of Title VI and the EPA regulation at 40 C.F.R. Part 7, relating to permit modifications at the ExxonMobil petroleum refinery in Beaumont, Texas.

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On April 28, 2017, ECRCO issued a Closure Letter for Administrative Complaint No. 06R-03-R4, involving the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (Tallassee Waste Disposal Center, Inc.). The complaint alleged generally that ADEM violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the EPA’s nondiscrimination regulation found at 40 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Part 7.

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On February 23, 2017, ECRCO published the updated EPA Order 1000.32 “Compliance with Executive Order 13166: Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency” which outlines necessary steps that the Agency needs to take in order to provide meaningful language access to limited-English proficient persons.

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On February 9, 2017, ECRCO issued a Resolution Letter resolving complaint No.: 02NO-16-R4 based on an Informal Resolution Agreement entered into between EPA and the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA). This Title VI complaint alleged discrimination based on national origin with respect to the provision of language services to limited-English proficient persons.

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On January 19, 2017, EPA’s External Civil Rights Compliance Office (ECRCO) concluded its investigation and issued a Closure Letter to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality resolving administrative complaint (EPA File # 01R-94-R5). This complaint involved alleged race discrimination (African American/ Title VI) regarding the permitting of the Genesee Power Station (GPS), in Genesee County MI.

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On January 19, 2017, EPA’s External Civil Rights Compliance Office (ECRCO) issued a Resolution Letter resolving an administrative complaint (EPA File # 09R-02-R6) based on an Informal Resolution Agreement entered into between EPA and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED). The complaint involved allegations of national origin discrimination (Latino/Title VI) with respect to NMED’s issuance of a treatment, storage and disposal permit to Gandy-Marley, Inc. (GMI) on March 18, 2002.

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On January 18, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) External Civil Rights Compliance Office (ECRCO) issued Chapter 1 of the U.S. EPA’s External Civil Rights Compliance Office Compliance Toolkit (“Toolkit”).  The Toolkit is a clarification of existing law and policy intended to provide guidance to promote and support EPA recipients’ compliance with federal civil rights laws.  Chapter 1 of the Toolkit, entitled “Application of the federal civil rights laws and the civil rights legal standards used in investigating and resolving civil rights complaints at EPA,” highlights the application of the federal civil rights laws and the legal standards used in investigating and resolving civil rights complaints at EPA. 

In conjunction with Chapter 1, EPA issued a companion Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document to assist in responding to potential questions addressed in Chapter 1. These two documents are preceded by a “Dear Colleague Letter” to EPA recipients transmitting and introducing the Toolkit Chapter 1 and the FAQs.  EPA’s ECRCO expects to roll-out additional Toolkit Chapters in the coming months.

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On January 12, 2017, the External Civil Rights Compliance Office issued in final its EPA’s External Civil Rights Compliance Office Strategic Plan 2015-2020 and the Case Resolution Manual to achieve prompt effective, and efficient docket management.  Available at the following links:

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Federal Register notice published on 1/9/2017, withdrawing rule to amend nondiscrimination regulation. 

On December 29, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Gina McCarthy, signed a notice withdrawing a proposed rule for which the EPA no longer intends to issue a final rule.  On December 14, 2015, the EPA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register (80 FR 77284), to amend its nondiscrimination regulation (at 40 CFR Parts 7 and 9) regarding civil rights compliance information requirements for recipients of EPA financial assistance and Agency Compliance Procedures, as well as a technical correction to the reference to the Paperwork Reduction Act.  The Notice of Withdrawal has been sent to the Federal Register and will be published therein.  The notice may be viewed at: (Nondiscrimination in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency).

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On September 13, 2016, EPA’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued a resolution letter of an administrative complaint (EPA File # 09R-15-R9) filed by Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, and El Pueblo Para El Aire y Agua Limpia against the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) alleging violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The parties involved agreed upon a settlement agreement which serves to resolve complaint involving the Kettleman Hills Hazardous Waste Facility. The parties reached this Settlement Agreement through EPA-OCR’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Process (ADR) with the assistance of a mediator provided by EPA-OCR.

(Posted 06/6/16) Today, June 6, 2016, EPA’s Office of Civil Rights issued resolution letters in an administrative complaint against the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) alleging violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

OCR issued resolution letters to BAAQMD, CARB, and the complainants finding insufficient evidence of current non-compliance with Title VI or EPA’s Title VI regulation.  Links to the letters may be found below:

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(Posted 02/26/16) February 26, 2016 - UPDATE ON MARCH 1, 2016 PUBLIC MEETING: This public outreach meeting will be available via a live-streamed webcast and accessible for participation by teleconference.  The following is the information needed in order to access the meeting and participate via webcast:

The following is the information needed in order to access the meeting and participate via teleconference:

  • Participants’ call-in number: 877-887-8949
  • Conference ID #58156799
  • Operator-assisted call with bi-lingual (Spanish/English operators - tambien en español)
  • March 1, 2016, 4 PM to 7 PM
  • Participants will be asked for their name, affiliation, and email address.

Si necesita asistencia en español, por favor contacte a la oficina de derechos civiles al (202) 564–7272.

NOTE:  Advanced registration is not required.  Walk-ins are welcome and  all attendees are encouraged to share remarks if they so choose.
  
Register at Eventbrite.

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(Posted 2/24/2016) February 24, 2016 - UPDATE ON MARCH 1, 2016 PUBLIC MEETING: This public outreach meeting will be available via a live-streamed webcast and accessible for participation by teleconference.  The link for the live-stream webcast will be circulated in the near future. The following is the information needed in order to access the meeting and participate via teleconference:

  • Participants’ call-in number: 877-887-8949
  • Conference ID #58156799
  • Operator-assisted call with bi-lingual (Spanish/English operators - tambien en español)
  • March 1, 2016, 4 PM to 7 PM
  • Participants will be asked for their name, affiliation, and email address.

Si necesita asistencia en español, por favor contacte a la oficina de derechos civiles al (202) 564–7272.

NOTE:  Advanced registration is not required.  Walk-ins are welcome and  all attendees are encouraged to share remarks if they so choose.
  
Register through this Eventbrite link

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(Posted 2/24/2016)  February 24, 2016 - UPDATE ON NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKINGTO AMEND EPA’S NONDISCRIMNIATION REGULATION: Please note that EPA will be accepting written comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend EPA’s nondiscrimination regulation through Monday, March 14, 2016, as the March 12 date identified in the Federal Register Notice extending the deadline for comments  (http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OA-2013-0031-0009) falls on a non-business day. 

(Posted 2/24/2016) In order to maximize the opportunity to engage with our communities and stakeholders and to receive input on the proposed amendments to EPA’s non-discrimination regulations, the Office of Civil Rights is extending the public comment period by thirty (30) days.

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(Posted 2/16/16) OCR will host its final public meeting on March 1, 2016 at Howard University’s School of Law at located at 2900 Van Ness Street, NW in Washington, D.C. The purpose of this meeting is to engage with the public and to provide an overview of the proposed amendments to EPA’s non-discrimination regulation. This public outreach meeting will be available via a live-streamed webcast and accessible for participation by teleconference.  The link for the live-stream webcast and dial-in information for the teleconference will be circulated in the near future.
 
Please click the link below for details on this meeting.
 
OCR Public Meeting on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Howard University School of Law – Moot Court Room
2900 Van Ness Street Northwest. Washington, DC 20008
 
 
**  NOTE:  Advanced registration is not required.  Walk-ins are welcome and  all attendees are encouraged to share remarks if they so choose.
 
Si necesita asistencia en español, por favor contacte a la oficina de derechos civiles al (202) 564 – 7272.
 

Register through Eventbrite

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(Posted 2/4/2016) In order to maximize the opportunity to engage with our communities and stakeholders and to receive input on the proposed amendments to EPA’s non-discrimination regulations, the Office of Civil Rights is extending the public comment period by thirty (30) days.

SAVE THE DATE: OCR has added an additional public outreach meeting on March 1, 2016 at Howard University’s School of Law at located at 2900 Van Ness Street, NW in Washington, D.C.  The keynote sessions and public comments for this public outreach meeting will be via a live-streamed via webcast and accessible by teleconference.  Additional information for this meeting will be posted on the OCR website and distributed via email in the near future, but in the meantime please save the date. 

(Posted on 1/8/2016) On December 1, 2015, OCR posted on this website its intent to hold “listening sessions” in five different cities for the purpose of public engagement and to provide more information to the public about the proposed amendments to EPA’s non-discrimination regulation. (Please see below.)  In light of recent questions received about the purpose and intent of these public meetings, OCR wanted to clarify that these meetings are not formal “hearings.”  Although the agency was only required to solicit public comment through a Federal Register notice, the EPA considered the issuance of this proposed regulation to be an opportunity for OCR to engage with its external partners and stakeholders in communities. OCR’s intent is to provide an overview of the proposed amendments to its non-discrimination Regulation, which is part of the accountability measures contemplated in OCR’s External Compliance Strategic Plan for 2015-20, which was posted on this Website in November, 2015. 

Advance registration – online or otherwise – is not required. Anyone may attend the meetings.  If you have questions or need assistance regarding these sessions please do not hesitate to call the Office of Civil Rights at (202) 564 – 7272. Please see the links below for further information about each city’s session.
                                       
Si necesita asistencia en español, por favor contacte a la oficina de derechos civiles al (202) 564 – 7272.

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Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
On December 1st, 2015 Administrator McCarthy sent to the Federal Register (FR) a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). Also on December 1st, OCR issued an Interim Case Resolution Manual (CRM) for informal comment. The NPRM and the CRM are consistent with EPA’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its external civil rights compliance program and are two of several strategic measures outlined in OCR’s Draft External Compliance and Complaints Strategic Plan 2015-2020.

The NPRM will: 1) Reaffirm EPA’s discretion to initiate compliance reviews to ensure compliance with civil rights laws; 2) Provide EPA with the ability to request and receive compliance information from recipients on a regular basis; 3) Reaffirm EPA’s discretion to determine how to ensure the prompt, effective, and efficient resolution of its cases; and, 4)     Reaffirm EPA’s enforcement discretion to tailor its approach to complaints to match their complexity, scope and nature.

The official version of the  proposed rule titled “Nondiscrimination in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency” (80 FR 77284) was published in the Federal Register on December 14, 2015.  We are seeking formal public comment on the NPRM.  Please select the link above to read and submit your comments. 

EPA will also hold listening sessions regarding the proposed modifications in five cities around the country. At these sessions, attendees will hear more information on the proposed modifications and have an opportunity to speak about the proposed action.

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Please click the links below for further information on each city’s session:

The CRM is a procedural guide that addresses all phases of case investigation and resolution—including complaints and compliance reviews, and will aid EPA staff as they address and resolve civil rights cases. Please submit all informal comments on the Interim CRM to:

Email: civilrights@epa.gov  
OR
US Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Civil Rights (1201A)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-7272 (voice)
(202) 501-1836 (fax)

For more information about the NPRM and the Interim Case Resolution Manual please see the documents linked below.

Nondiscrimination Proposed Rulemaking

FAQs (PDF) (4 pp, 90 K)
Power Point Slides (PDF) (7 pp, 82 K)

Draft Interim Case Resolution Manual 

CRM (PDF) (61 pp, 558 K)

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Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) Translations in Several Languages

Spanish español 

Chinese 中文: 简体版 (Simplified)

Chinese 中文: 繁體版 (Traditional) 

Korean 한국어

Russian русский

Tagalog Tagalog 

Vietnamese Việt-ngữ 

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External Compliance and Complaints Draft Strategic Plan - no longer taking comments.

OCR released the FY 2015-2020 External Compliance and Complaints Draft Strategic Plan (PDF) (19 pp, 698 K, About PDF) for public comment. Comments will be accepted for the next 30 calendar days through Tuesday, October 13, 2015. Commenters may submit comments in writing via regular U.S. mail or in writing through the following electronic mailbox.

U.S. Mailing Address
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Civil Rights
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
WJC-North, Suite 2450 – Mail Code 1201-A
Washington, D.C. 20460

Email: civilrights@epa.gov

Spanish español Envíe comentarios sobre este borrador del Plan Estratégico del Programa de Cumplimiento y Quejas de la Oficina de Derechos Civiles (OCR) a civilrights@epa.gov

Chinese 中文: 简体版 (Simplified) 請將有關此民權辦事處合規和投訴項目策略計劃評論,發電郵往: civilrights@epa.gov

Chinese 中文: 繁體版 (Traditional) 請將有關此民權辦事處合規和投訴項目策略計劃評論,發電郵往: civilrights@epa.gov

Korean 한국어 OCR 준수 및 불만사항 프로그램 전략 계획 초안에 대한 논평을 다음의 이메일로 보내주시기 바랍니다. civilrights@epa.gov

Russian русский Комментарии по поводу этого чернового варианта стратегического плана программы рассмотрения жалоб и соблюдения законодательных требований OCR посылайте в: civilrights@epa.gov

Tagalog Tagalog Ipadala ang mga komento tungkol sa balangkas nitong OCR Compliance at Complaints Program Strategic Plan sacivilrights@epa.gov

Vietnamese Việt-ngữ Gửi các góp ý về bản thảo Kế Hoạch Chiến Lược của chương Trình Tuân Thủ và Than Phiền của OCR này chocivilrights@epa.gov

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