DEEP: Environmental Equity Movement Fact Sheet

The Environmental Justice Movement
An Environmental Permitting Fact Sheet

Introduction

The environmental justice movement is in response to a growing body of evidence, nationally and statewide, indicating that low income, and racial and ethnic minority groups are exposed to higher than average amounts of environmental pollution. Industrial air pollution, lead paint, waste treatment and disposal facilities, contaminated water and fish, agricultural pesticides are just a few examples.

What Is Environmental Justice?

Environmental Justice means that all people should be treated fairly under environmental laws regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, or economic status. One of the goals of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is to educate communities regarding their rights to ensure they participate in the government process.

In December 1993, DEEP (formerly DEP) issued an Environmental Equity policy which maintains that DEEP will encourage community participation in DEEP's ongoing operations and program development, including but not limited to, inclusion on the agency's advisory boards and commissions, regulatory review panels, and planning and permitting activities.

The Policy of
Non-Harm

The Departmentís policy is that no segment of the population should bear a disproportionate share of the risks and consequences of environmental pollution or be denied equal access to environmental benefits because of race, color, ethnicity, economic status, disability or linguistic abilities. The Department has identified communities that are disproportionately located in areas with a higher number of potential pollution sources. These communities are also characterized by the greatest concentration of racial and ethnic minority groups and lower income persons.  In 2009, Public Act 08-94, An Act Concerning Environmental Justice Communities, was signed into law.  This Public Act, now found in Connecticut General Statute Section 22a-20a, addresses health issues in environmentally overburdened areas by requiring community education and participation in siting and environmental permitting decisions.  The Act defines environmental justice communities and affords certain rights that fulfill the Departmentís mandate to reduce pollution in environmental justice communities.  

How Do You As An Applicant Work With The Local Community?

As an applicant you are encouraged to communicate with the local residents regarding your proposed activity before you apply for a permit. Abutting property owners and neighborhood residents need to understand the potential impact of the activities you are proposing. DEEP requires that you announce your intended activities through press releases to local media. People of color may not be members of national environmental groups and they may need to be reached through other means (e.g., local and neighborhood newspapers). DEEP has compiled a list of alternative media that serves people of color in Connecticut. To obtain a copy of this list, contact DEEP's Communications and Education section at (860) 424-4100.

In addition to informing residents through media, DEEP recommends that you communicate directly with local community representatives and groups. DEEP is in the process of compiling a list of community representatives and groups throughout Connecticut. To obtain a list of community representatives and groups contact the DEEP's Environmental Equity Program at (860) 424-3044.

Contact Information

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE PROGRAM
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
79 ELM STREET
HARTFORD, CT 06106-5127

860-424-3044

This overview is designed to answer general questions and provide basic information. You should refer to the appropriate statutes and regulations for the specific regulatory language of the different permit programs.

Fact Sheet: DEP-FS-010
Content Last Updated on January 30, 2013

Users Guide to Environmental Permits