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Environmental Justice

EJ 2020: National EJ Challenges

Ship in port being loaded with cargoDemonstrating progress on significant national environmental justice (EJ) challenges is the third major goal of EJ 2020. EPA recognizes the need for a more systematic approach to reducing environmental and health disparities for minority, low-income and tribal populations and improve the air, water and land in the nation’s most overburdened communities. 

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Current Areas

Addressing complex and continuing national environmental problems of concern to overburdened communities is a long-term endeavor that goes beyond EJ 2020. EPA will take a two-phased approach. In the first phase, EPA will employ a comprehensive suite of programs and actions to achieve progress in four key areas for which EPA has existing measures. EPA will work closely with our state, tribal and other co-regulatory partners with authority towards achieving progress in the following areas:    

  • Lead: Work to eliminate disparities in childhood blood lead levels as an integral part of reducing lead exposure for all people. EPA will convene partners to identify geographic areas with greatest lead exposures, reduce sources of lead contamination, and take national action to reduce lead in drinking water.
  • Drinking Water: Work to ensure all people served by community water systems have drinking water that meets applicable health based standards. In working toward this goal, we will place special emphasis on addressing drinking water challenges in underserved communities.
  • Air Quality: Achieve air quality that meets the fine particle pollution national ambient air quality standards in all areas of the country, with special emphasis on communities with poor air quality and low-income populations. We will achieve this as soon as practicable and no later than the statutory attainment date. Low-income populations are among those most at-risk to adverse health effects from exposure to fine particle pollution.  
  • Hazardous Waste Sites: Reduce human exposure to contamination at hazardous waste sites, with emphasis on minority, low-income and vulnerable communities.

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Exploring Future Areas

In the second phase, we will:

  • Evaluate progress on achieving our current goals
  • Enhance measures as appropriate
  • Explore potential development of additional national environmental justice measures and associated strategies.

We anticipate focusing particular attention on issues of concern to overburdened communities that may warrant attention at the national level. These issues include:

  • pesticide impacts on farmworkers
  • goods movement (commercial transportation of freight)
  • water infrastructure
  • air pollution
  • climate change
  • among others

EPA is already undertaking significant ongoing work in all of these areas. We also anticipate working closely with federal, state, tribal and local government partners, communities, and other stakeholders through our second phase efforts.

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