EPA Unveils Equity Action Plan

On April 14, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Equity Action Plan alongside other federal agencies. The action fulfills President Biden’s Executive Order (EO) 13985 which directed federal agencies, to assess whether underserved communities face systemic barriers in accessing federal benefits and opportunities.

EPA’s plan highlights six priority actions:

    • Develop a comprehensive framework for considering cumulative impacts in relevant EPA decisions and operationalize that framework in EPA’s programs and activities.
    • Build the capacity of underserved communities to provide their experience to EPA and implement community-led projects.
    • Develop EPA’s internal capacity to engage underserved communities and implement clear and accountable processes to act based on communities’ input.
    • Strengthen EPA’s external civil rights compliance program and ensure that civil rights compliance is an agency-wide responsibility.
    • Integrate participatory (community) science into EPA’s research and program implementation.
    • Make EPA’s procurement and contracting more equitable.

The Equity Action Plan reiterates the Biden Administrations’ goal under the Justice40 initiative to ensure that disadvantaged communities receive at least 40% of the benefits of EPA’s investments. The plan spotlights three of the EPA’s pilot programs for Justice40: The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), the Drinking Water SRF, and the Reducing Lead in Drinking Water grant program under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act), noting that these three programs represent more than 30% of EPA’s budget.