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Environmental Justice News From D.C.: A Preview

Professor Pat Parenteau

On Thursday, March 17, a special installment of the Embedded Racism in the Law series will feature former Environmental Justice Clinic Director Marianne Engelman-Lado in conversation with Pat Parenteau. Engelman-Lado left VLS in January 2021 to join the Biden administration in the role of deputy general counsel for environmental initiatives at the Environmental Protection Agency. We asked Pat Parenteau to give us a preview of what they will discuss on the panel. 

On January 26, 2022, EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced the first in a series of policy actions reflecting EPA’s commitment to environmental justice. These actions include:

  1. Committing US EPA to aggressively use its authority to conduct unannounced inspections of suspected non-compliant facilities, as needed to protect public health;
  2. Deploying a new program to expand air monitoring capacity, utilizing sophisticated surveillance technologies, and additional air pollution inspectors to enhance enforcement;
  3. Mobilizing agency resources to invest in community air monitoring to better protect people and public health in vulnerable areas; and
  4. Holding companies more accountable for their actions in overburdened communities with increased monitoring and oversight of polluting facilities.

Now the question is: what specific actions can we expect to see in the coming months? Will we see increased EPA enforcement of violations that have a disproportionate impact on underserved communities? Will the EPA scrutinize permit applications to evaluate EJ considerations in disadvantaged communities? Will we see the long-promised update of the "EJ Screening Tool" to identify and promptly respond to threats to “frontline communities?” Will there be an increase in citizen and tort suits aimed at disadvantaged communities suffering from disproportionate impacts?

Lots to discuss.

Embedded Racism in the Law: The News from DC will take place at 6 PM Thursday, March 17. Watch it at vermontlaw.edu/live