Tuesday, March 28, 2017

DEP To Hold Statewide Listening Tour To Gather Input On Environmental Justice

Department of Environmental Protection Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell Tuesday announced he will be hosting nine roundtables across the state over the next two months to meet with residents and hear their perspectives on environmental justice. (formal notice)
“The Office of Environmental Justice fulfills a critical role within DEP – ensuring that all Pennsylvanians, especially those who have historically been disenfranchised, are fully involved in the decisions that affect their environment,” said McDonnell. “Environmental justice embodies the principles that communities should not be disproportionately exposed to adverse environmental impacts. With these listening sessions, I want to hear how we can improve on our responsibility.”
The tour will focus on engaging residents and leaders in DEP’s decision-making process, and involving residents in communities that may not fit the traditional definition of an environmental justice area -- which is based on minority population and income levels in census tracts.
Specific Questions
DEP is soliciting input on these questions--
-- What environmental justice concerns are most pressing in your community?
-- Do you feel that the current definition of an environmental justice community (20 percent poverty or 30 percent minority, or both) properly represents the needs of your community and the Commonwealth at large?
-- Do you feel the Department is engaged with marginalized communities to ensure that they have a voice in the decision-making process? How can the Department be more engaged with these communities?
-- What tools have you used to find out information on Department permitting/enforcement actions?
-- What ways can the Department be more effective at sharing information with the public?
-- How can the Department be more effective at receiving public input?
-- What resource is your community lacking that the Department can provide that would assist in efforts to ensure environmental equity?
-- What additional steps can be taken by the Department to effectively reach out to these vulnerable communities to ensure that their concerns are taken into consideration?
The roundtables will be held--
-- April 12: Greene County, Margaret Bell Miller Middle School, 126 East Lincoln St., Waynesburg. 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
-- April 13: Pittsburgh, Hill House Association, 1835 Centre Ave., Pittsburgh, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
-- April 20: Williamsport, The Genetti Hotel & Suites, 200 West 4th St., Williamsport, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
-- April 27: Erie, Tom Ridge Environmental Center, 301 Peninsula Dr., Room 112, Erie, 5:00 to 7 p.m.
-- May 2: Dauphin County, DEP Southcentral Regional Office, 909 Elmerton Ave., Conference Room, Harrisburg, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
-- May 11: Allentown, Allentown Public Library, Community room, 1210 Hamilton St, Allentown, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
-- May 15: Lancaster County, HACC Lancaster Campus, East Building, Room 203, 1641 Old Philadelphia Pike, Lancaster, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
-- May 23: City of Chester (Delaware County), Chester City Hall Council Chambers, 1 Fourth St., Chester., 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
-- May 25: Philadelphia, Fairmount Water Works, 640 Water Works, Dr., Philadelphia, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
“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,” said Carl Jones, director of DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice. “We want to ensure that communities and regulated entities are connected and communicating.”
DEP will solicit feedback from the listening sessions about improving how public feedback is received, and ensuring that communities are sufficiently engaged with the decision-making process and companies involved.
“DEP has three goals for the Office of Environmental Justice: minimizing adverse environmental impacts, empowering communities, and fostering economic opportunities,” said Jones. “We want to hear from Pennsylvanians about how we can meet those goals.”
For more information, visit DEP’s Listening Session Schedule and Environmental Justice webpages.  Questions should be directed to Carl Jones, Director of DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice at 484-250-5818 or send email to: caejone@pa.gov.
Environmental Justice Will Be Focus Of DEP Statewide Listening Tour
Erie To Host DEP Listening Session On Environmental Justice April 27

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