Environmental justice will be focus of statewide ‘listening tour’

  • Marie Cusick
A natural gas rig in Washington, Pa.

AP Photo/Michael Rubinkam / AP Photo

A natural gas rig in Washington, Pa.

Environmental regulators are launching a statewide “listening tour” next month, focused on environmental justice.

In Pennsylvania an environmental justice (EJ) zone is defined as a census tract where at least 20 percent of people live in poverty and/or at least 30 percent of the population is minority. The idea is to protect people in marginalized communities, who often get stuck with a disproportionate share of industrial development in their backyards.

“We want to move beyond just the census tract boundaries and make sure we’re really considering the needs of people and the role of public participation,” Carl Jones, director of DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice said in a statement. “We want to ensure that communities and regulated entities are connected and communicating.”

Currently, permit applications for some things, such as landfills or coal mines in EJ zones trigger more scrutiny from the DEP, but that’s not the case with oil and gas permits. Last year the department said it would reconstitute its policies around environmental justice, including how to define an EJ zone, and revisit which kinds of permits would trigger a review.

Click here for the full listening tour schedule:

April 12, 2017, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Greene County
Margaret Bell Miller Middle School
126 East Lincoln Street
Waynesburg, PA 15370

April 13, 2017, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Allegheny County
Hill House Association
1835 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

April 20, 2017, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Lycoming County
The Genetti Hotel & Suites
200 West 4th Street
Williamsport, PA 17701

April 27, 2017, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Erie County
Tom Ridge Environmental Center
301 Peninsula Drive, Room 112
Erie, PA 16505

May 2, 2017, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Dauphin County
Department of Environmental Protection
Southcentral Regional Office
909 Elmerton Avenue, Conference Room
Harrisburg, PA 17110

May 11, 2017 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Lehigh County
Allentown Public Library
Community Room
1210 Hamilton Street
Allentown, PA 18102

May 15, 2017, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Lancaster County
HACC Lancaster Campus
East Building, Room 203
1641 Old Philadelphia Pike
Lancaster, PA 17602

May 23, 2017, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Delaware County
Location: TBD

May 25, 2017, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Philadelphia County
Location: TBD

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