Opportunities for Advancing Environmental Justice: An Analysis of U.S. EPA Statutory Authorities


This report reviews the provisions contained in the principal federal environmental laws administered by EPA, in order to identify authorities that potentially could be used to advance a variety of environmental justice goals in the agency’s programs. While there also are significant opportunities for action to be taken by other federal, state, tribal and local agencies, this report considers only EPA’s authorities and actions. The report aims to present an expansive view of the relevant statutory provisions, in order to further public understanding of the range of actions that can be considered. The report does not discuss all of the legal arguments that might be framed in support of or against the analysis presented in the following chapters, nor does the report attempt to predict how these arguments would be resolved in a particular case. Moreover, the report does not assess the practical viability of using these statutory authorities to address environmental justice issues. Implementation of any of the authorities discussed here will require consideration of a mix of scientific, political, financial and other factors, depending on the program and type of action involved. It is hoped that the discussion of authorities in this report can provide a starting point for such inquiry by individuals and groups, both public and private, interested in advancing environmental justice goals in specific areas of EPA regulatory activity. Numerous existing EPA initiatives bear directly or indirectly on the goal of advancing environmental justice. The report does not seek to review these initiatives, but rather to provide to the public a foundation for further exploration of the extent to which EPA’s current programs capture the potential reflected in existing statutory authority. This report is written for the public. A fuller understanding of EPA's authorities to promote environmental justice is important because the public has a vital role to play in the effective implementation of EPA's environmental protection programs. A companion document to be published shortly by the Environmental Law Institute will seek to illuminate further the ways in which interested individuals and groups can help shape how EPA programs use these statutory authorities to promote environmental justice.


257 pages; available for download at the link below.


environmental justice, environmental law, environmental protection