The DEP Office of Environmental Justice has released a draft Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy, under the guidance of the Environmental Justice Advisory Board and with input from the Environmental Justice Listening Sessions. The draft Environmental Justice Public Participation Policy is open for public comments until August 28, 2018. While there are some improvements to the policy document, it does not go far enough to adequately ensure environmental justice communities will be heard in the permitting process.
In particular, the draft policy still leaves oil and gas permits off the trigger list to kickstart increased public participation. This demand was raised at every Environmental Justice Listening Sessions and should be added to the new public participation policy. In addition, DEP should use language requiring the applicants to follow this policy rather than merely encouraging them to do so.