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Environmental Justice Area Expanded to Cover a Third of Pennsylvania's Population
Marie Cusick reports: "The state Department of Environmental Protection is expanding the number of people who are considered to live in an environmental justice area — a designation aimed at protecting poor and minority communities that often bear the brunt of industrial development and pollution."
The policy change amounts to a change in the unit of measure used to decide the environmental justice area. The state is ditching the census tract for the census block group. Now, nearly a third of the state's population lives in an environmental justice area.
"Applications for certain things in EJ areas — like landfills or coal mines — are on a 'trigger permit list' and get more scrutiny from the state Department of Environmental Protection," explains Cusick. The policy change grew out of a year of public engagement by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection as the Marcellus Shale industry continues to open new facilities.