January 13, 2023

Inside EPA Quotes Fred Wagner on the EPA’s Efforts to Address Cumulative Impacts

2 min

On January 4, 2023, Fred Wagner was quoted in Inside EPA on the EPA’s efforts to address cumulative impacts in permitting for facilities in overburdened communities.

Facing stiff resistance from states and industry groups, EPA is expected to proceed cautiously as it works to advance its high-profile effort to account for cumulative impacts in permitting for facilities located in overburdened communities, a key part of the Biden administration’s environmental justice (EJ) agenda.

According to the article, addressing cumulative impacts from multiple sources can be complicated, but it is a top priority for EJ communities, which often face a host of pollutants in multiple media and from a range of different sources -- factors that often overlap with the adverse effects of poverty and other socio-economic factors.

Wagner explains, while there is some nervousness about the pending guidance and what it could mean for industry, “ironically, it could be a way for EPA to deny some of these [Title VI] petitions.” The agency could find there is no discrimination because the permit has conditions to mitigate effects that recognize past environmental harms.

The guidance will “not just be a way to deny [permits] but also a way for EPA to say, ‘No, we didn’t find discrimination.’ It goes both ways.”

Going forward, “EPA’s hope is that they don’t have to get involved in tons of permit reviews,” Wagner says. “The guidance means the states responsible for permitting can take a more careful look at these issues and that will winnow down the types of challenges that end up at EPA,” said Wagner.

Please contact the Library to access the article.