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Environmental Justice

Office of Environmental Justice

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Environmental Justice is the fair and meaningful treatment of all people, regardless of race, income, national origin or color, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. Environmental Justice allows for disproportionately impacted residents to access the tools to address environmental concerns across all of DEC's operations. Continue to watch this page for news and updates.

The Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) works to address environmental issues and concerns that affect primarily low income and minority communities through grant opportunities, enforcement of environmental laws and regulations, consultation, guidance, and enhance public participation.

Environmental Justice Programs

DEC Permit Applications Data

Search DEC Permit Applications currently under review or with final disposition: Begin Permit Application Search.

Updates and News

Draft Disadvantaged Communities Criteria Hearings Schedule is Live

The Draft Disadvantaged Communities Criteria (Leaves DEC's website) public hearings schedule is available. DEC, in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), will hold 11 public hearings across the state to receive public input on draft disadvantaged communities criteria and advance the finalization of criteria to help guide the implementation of the State's nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

All persons, organizations, corporations, and government entities are encouraged to attend the public hearings and submit oral or written comments. Each participant will be given two minutes to provide public comment. Lengthy statements should be submitted in writing and summarized for oral presentation. PowerPoint presentations are not allowed, but individuals may provide written supporting documents or visuals.

Draft Disadvantaged Communities Criteria

The Draft Disadvantaged Communities Criteria (Leaves DEC's website) is available for public comment. The Climate Justice Working Group (CJWG) voted unanimously to approve the release of draft criteria for public comment in December 2021. The CJWG is comprised of 13 representatives from organizations working in frontline Environmental Justice communities across New York State and supported by a team of State agency and technical experts. The CJWG worked to identify disadvantaged communities by evaluating 45 indicators including: environmental exposures, burdens, and climate change risks; sociodemographic factors such as age, race, and income; pollution characteristics; and health vulnerabilities. Using a methodology that worked at the census tract level, the working group combined and ranked all indicators into an overall score. DEC, NYSERDA, and the New York State Departments of Health and Labor supported the CJWG's efforts.

DEC is accepting public comments on the draft criteria and will hold at least six public hearings during the comment period. The draft criteria, community list, map, and supporting documentation are available on the New York State Climate Act website at climate.ny.gov/DAC-Criteria. Comments on the draft criteria are due by July 7, 2022. New Yorkers are encouraged to submit comments via the online public comment form, via email at DACComments@dec.ny.gov, and via U.S. Mail to Attention:

Draft DAC Comments, NYS DEC
Attn. Office of Environmental Justice
625 Broadway, 14th Floor
Albany NY 12233.

Information about the public hearings will be released soon.

Climate Action Council Draft Scoping Plan

New York State's Climate Action Council's Draft Scoping Plan (Leaves DEC's website), which describes recommended policies and actions to help New York meet its ambitious climate directives as part of the Climate Act is still available for public comment. New Yorkers are encouraged to submit comments via the online public comment form (leaves DEC website), via email at scopingplan@nyserda.ny.gov, and via U.S. mail to Attention:

Draft Scoping Plan Comments
NYSERDA
17 Columbia Circle
Albany, NY 12203-6399

Barriers Report

The Disadvantaged Communities Barriers and Opportunities report is still available. This report is informed by research into the experience of similar programmatic efforts in other states, academic literature, and the vital input of the Climate Justice Working Group and community members, local governments, nonprofits, and small businesses. The report identifies 35 opportunities for state agencies to embed justice and equity in climate and clean energy programs. These recommendations fall into three categories:

  • Make agency program design processes inclusive of communities burdened by pollution and poverty;
  • Streamline agency activities to make programs accessible; and
  • Address emerging issues such as the need for holistic approaches to housing upgrades and climate adaptation planning.

View the Barriers Report. (Leaves DEC's website)

Press Releases

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), will host two virtual information and educational sessions on the State's draft disadvantaged communities (DAC) criteria on Wednesday, April 13, and Tuesday, April 19.

The April public education sessions are an opportunity for interested stakeholders to review the CJWG's process and methodology for selecting DACs and to answer technical questions on the draft criteria and maps. These are not public hearings to receive public comments. A schedule for in-person and virtual public hearings on the draft criteria and indicators is being developed and will be announced soon.

The sessions are as follows:

Session 1: Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2022 - 12:00 pm | (UTC-04:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Attendees join link: https://meetny-broadcast-pilot.webex.com/meetny-broadcast-pilot/j.php?MTID=mdefbecea7780c6aaaf9be7d48a3c50dc
Webinar number: 2339 337 3154
Webinar password: DAC-Apr13 (32202771 from phones)
Join by phone: +1-518-549-0500 USA Toll; Enter access code: 233 933 73154

Session 2: Tuesday, Apr 19, 2022 - 6:00 pm | (UTC-04:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Spanish Translation Services will be available
Attendees join link: https://meetny-broadcast-pilot.webex.com/meetny-broadcast-pilot/j.php?MTID=m466e21b3d31187e01454265702c75002
Webinar number: 2337 652 8847
Webinar password: DAC-Apr19 (32202771 from phones)
Join by phone: +1-518-549-0500 USA Toll; Enter access code: 233 765 28847

The Environmental Justice Report

Welcome to The Environmental Justice Report! The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) produces this newsletter to keep residents informed of initiatives within the agency that are important to the community.

Environmental Justice Hotline

Call and speak to Environmental Justice staff toll-free at: 1-866-229-0497

Contact Us about:

  • General Information on NYSDEC Environmental Justice Program
  • Environmental concerns and questions
  • Information on environmental laws, regulations, policies, permitting and enforcement related to Environmental Justice
  • Potential environmental violations in low income and/or minority areas
  • Grant opportunity information

Other DEC Hotline

  • ECO Hotline
    • 24-hour, toll free hotline for reporting environmental crimes and violations: 1-844-DEC-ECOs (1-844-332-3267)
  • Spills Hotline
    • 24-hour, toll free hotline for reporting oil or chemical spills:
      1. 1-800-457-7362 (within NYS) or
      2. (518) 457-7362 (outside NYS)

Non-DEC Hotlines

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) (Leaves DEC website) Environmental Justice Hotline : 1-800-962-6215
    • Region 2 Offices (NY, NJ, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands): 1-212-637-4040

Federal Environmental Justice Programs

Other Information


More about Environmental Justice:

  • Operation ECO Quality - Current projects and information from the DEC Office of Environmental Justice to help residents of environmental justice communities and members of the general public in New York State
  • EJ Related Policy and Regulations - Commissioner Policy CP-29 provides guidance for incorporating environmental justice concerns into the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) environmental permit review process, the DEC application of the State Environmental Quality Review Act, and some aspects of the DEC's enforcement program, grants program and public participation provisions.
  • Environmental Justice Grant Programs - Provides grants from $2,500 to $50,000 to community-based organizations for research and education projects that address multiple environmental harms and risks.
  • Maps & Geospatial Information System (GIS) Tools for Environmental Justice - Links to Geographic Information System (GIS) Tools for environmental justice information
  • Green Infrastructure - Links to Environmental Justice programs of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, several states, and some national non-profit organizations
  • Diversity Resources in the Outdoors, Science, & Environmental Justice - resources to explore more voices and wider points of view in the Outdoors, Science, and Environmental Justice