EPA Revamps Legal ‘Toolbox’ to Reach Environmental Justice Goals


The EPA on Thursday unveiled a review of dozens of existing laws it can use to better protect marginalized communities from pollution—a legal “toolbox” to help the agency make good on the Biden administration’s broad environmental justice efforts.

The 191-page legal tools review, which has undergone its first update since 2011, reflects statutory changes both big and small that have been made since the Environmental Protection Agency’s general counsel first published the Obama-era document.

Congress hasn’t passed many far-reaching environmental statutes since the last update, with one big exception: a 2016 bipartisan revamping of the Toxic Substances Control Act giving the EPA more tools to speed up the slow pace of its chemical reviews and strengthening testing authority.

The detailed survey of statutes, “EPA Legal Tools to Advance Environmental Justice,” puts more of a focus on tools that environmental justice advocates argue that the agency haven’t always been wielded, including civil rights laws. The roadmap also reflects EPA Administrator Michael Regan’s 2021 call to all employees to find more ways to integrate environmental equity in their work as the administration pushes to make environmental justice a key platform across agencies.

While the document is primarily written for internal use, it also could assist states authorized to enforce environmental law and regulations as well as environmental justice advocacy groups and industry attorneys.

The updated toolbox showcases “a wide range of legal authorities that EPA can deploy to ensure its programs and activities protect the health and environment of all people, no matter the color of their skin, their zip code, or how much money they have in their pocket,” Regan wrote in the document’s introduction.

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Bloomberg Law, 27-05-22
; https://news.bloomberglaw.com/product-liability-and-toxics-law/epa-revamps-legal-toolbox-to-reach-environmental-justice-goals