[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 123 (Tuesday, June 26, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 38051-38060]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-15605]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[EPA-HQ-OAR-2012-0452; FRL-9680-6]


EPA Activities To Promote Environmental Justice in the Permit 
Application Process

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of Availability of Proposed Regional Actions to Promote 
Public Participation in the Permitting Process and Draft Best Practices 
for Permit Applicants Seeking EPA-Issued Permits; Request for Comments.

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SUMMARY: As part of its ongoing efforts under Plan EJ 2014 to integrate 
environmental justice into all of its programs, the Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting public comment on ways that EPA 
and permit applicants can meaningfully engage communities in the 
permitting process. This notice describes and seeks comment on actions 
that EPA regional offices can take when issuing EPA permits to promote 
greater participation in the permitting process by communities that 
have historically been underrepresented in that process. This notice 
also announces the availability of

[[Page 38052]]

draft best practices for permit applicants seeking EPA-issued permits 
(located in the appendix to this notice). The best practices are 
designed to encourage and assist permit applicants to reach out to 
neighboring communities when applying for permits that may affect the 
community's quality of life, including their health and environment.

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before August 27, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-
OAR-2012-0452 by one of the following methods:
     www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for 
submitting comments.
     Mail: ``Plan EJ 2014: Considering EJ in EPA's Permitting 
Process'' Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Docket Center, 
Mailcode 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460.
     Hand Delivery: ``Plan EJ 2014: Considering EJ in EPA's 
Permitting Process'' Docket, EPA/DC, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 
Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460. Such deliveries are 
accepted only during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and 
special arrangement should be made for deliveries of boxed information.
    EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the 
public docket without change and may be available online at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, 
unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential 
Business Information (CBI) or other information of which disclosure is 
restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to 
be CBI or otherwise protected through http://www.regulations.gov or 
email. The http://www.regulations.gov Web site is an ``anonymous 
access'' system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact 
information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If EPA 
cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot 
contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your 
comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, 
avoid any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses. 
For additional information about EPA's public docket, visit the EPA 
Docket Center homepage at http://www.epa.gov/cpallomc/dockets.htm. EPA 
also encourages the public to review and participate in the 
Environmental Justice in Action Blog which can be found at https://blog.epa.gov/ej. EPA intends to use the Environmental Justice in Action 
Blog to encourage different public stakeholders to dialogue over the 
ideas set forth in this Federal Register Notice. The Environmental 
Justice in Action Blog does not replace the conventional public comment 
process described above. Rather, EPA hopes that the Environmental 
Justice in Action Blog provides an informal public forum for 
stakeholders to exchange idea and share views, which may help shape 
comments submitted to EPA through Regulations.gov. As this public 
participation initiative illustrates, EPA believes that early and 
frequent dialogue among people with different points of view can lead 
to more thoughtful outcomes.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents

I. General Information
II. Actions That EPA Regional Offices Can Take To Promote Meaningful 
Engagement in the Permitting Process by Overburdened Communities
III. Draft Best Practices for Permit Applicants Seeking EPA-Issued 
Permits: Ways To Engage Communities at the Fence-Line
IV. Conclusion

I. General Information

    Expanding the conversation on environmentalism and working for 
environmental justice are top priorities of the Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA). In 2011, EPA published Plan EJ 2014, the 
Agency's overarching strategy for advancing environmental justice. The 
Plan has three objectives:
    1. Protect health and the environment in overburdened communities;
    2. Empower communities to take action to improve their health and 
environment; and
    3. Establish partnerships with local, state, tribal, and federal 
governments and organizations to achieve healthy and sustainable 
communities.
    The year 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of 
Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice, which directs each 
federal agency to ``make achieving environmental justice part of its 
mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, 
disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental 
effects of its programs, policies, and activities.'' Plan EJ 2014 is 
EPA's roadmap for integrating environmental justice into its programs, 
policies and activities. One focus area of the Plan is ``Considering 
Environmental Justice in Permitting.'' Environmental permits play a key 
role in providing effective protection of public health and the 
environment in communities. Thus, Plan EJ 2014 calls upon EPA to: (1) 
Enhance the ability of overburdened communities to participate fully 
and meaningfully in the permitting process for EPA-issued permits; and 
(2) take steps to meaningfully address environmental justice issues in 
the permitting process for EPA-issued permits to the greatest extent 
practicable.
    Plan EJ 2014 directs EPA to make achieving environmental justice 
part of its mission, and to be a leader among federal departments and 
agencies in addressing the impacts of federal activities on 
overburdened communities. EPA believes that environmental permitting 
presents opportunities to address environmental justice, and that the 
Agency has the responsibility to lead by example to address 
environmental justice in permits issued by EPA. Therefore, the actions 
described in this notice focus on EPA-issued permits. Although EPA 
issues few environmental permits compared to state, local and tribal 
governments that implement federal environmental laws as approved or 
delegated by EPA, EPA intends to share its experiences and ideas with 
these governments as well as with other federal agencies, with the goal 
of promoting similar efforts.
    In this notice, EPA focuses on enhancing the opportunity and 
ability of overburdened communities to participate in the permitting 
process. Overburdened communities are communities that potentially 
experience disproportionate environmental harms and risk as a result of 
cumulative impacts or greater vulnerability to environmental hazards. 
EPA believes that the participation of overburdened communities in the 
permitting process is an essential step toward the ultimate goal of 
achieving permits that meaningfully address environmental justice 
issues. Following the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council 
(NEJAC) recommendation to encourage more public participation in the 
permitting decision-making process, EPA has identified actions that EPA 
and permit applicants, both for new and renewed permits, can take to 
reduce barriers to participation in the permitting process. In 
overburdened communities, these barriers can include lack of trust, 
lack of awareness or information, language barriers, and limited access 
to technical and legal resources. In EPA's view, more transparency and 
dialogue can lead to better permit outcomes for the community as well 
as permit applicants. Thus, EPA believes it is especially important to 
make special efforts to provide enhanced public participation

[[Page 38053]]

opportunities to overburdened communities, particularly minority, low-
income, and indigenous communities. EPA also realizes that enhanced 
public engagement is only one aspect of attention to environmental 
justice in the context of permitting.
    Both EPA regional offices and permit applicants can--and in some 
cases already do--bring overburdened communities into the permitting 
process through special outreach efforts. EPA believes that permit 
applicants have unique opportunities in this area. Many companies are 
already active, contributing members of the community. In addition to 
their important role as a source of employment and economic stability 
within a community, permit applicants play other roles. Many facilities 
applying for permits, for example, have robust community engagement 
strategies that recognize the value of community outreach. Pursuant to 
these strategies, facilities engage actively with the community through 
environmental initiatives, neighborhood beautification projects, 
education programs and charitable giving, civic programs and the arts, 
youth activities, and other investments in the community. These 
existing ties between permit applicants and the broader communities 
where they are located provide a foundation for permit applicants to 
reach out to their immediate neighbors along the facility's fence-
line--ideally, to discuss health or environmental issues associated 
with their plans for new or increased pollutant releases.
    EPA has compiled the draft list of activities and best practices 
presented in this notice from many sources. EPA surveyed its regional 
offices, where EPA permitting activity predominantly occurs, to 
determine what steps are currently or could be taken to meaningfully 
involve overburdened communities in the permitting process. 
Additionally, EPA conducted numerous listening sessions, conference 
calls and meetings with a variety of stakeholders, including 
environmental justice stakeholders, members of the business community, 
state, local and tribal governments and communities, non-governmental 
organizations, and the NEJAC, to gather more input on how to enhance 
participation of overburdened communities in EPA's process of issuing 
environmental permits. One set of ideas, presented in Section II below, 
focuses on activities that EPA, as the permitting authority, can 
undertake to make it easier for communities to engage meaningfully and 
effectively in the permitting process. The second set of ideas, 
described in Section III below, presents best practices that permit 
applicants can use to initiate and sustain a dialogue with the 
communities at their fence-line when the companies seek environmental 
permits that may be affected by the permitting action.
    EPA recognizes that some states have made significant progress in 
meaningfully involving overburdened communities in the permitting 
process. While the focus of today's notice is on EPA-issued permits, 
EPA believes that states with experience in this area can provide 
valuable information that will strengthen EPA's efforts. Therefore, EPA 
invites states to share their ideas for ensuring the meaningful 
involvement of overburdened communities in the permitting process and 
encouraging dialogue between permit applicants and communities.
    The ideas in this notice are meant to complement all of the other 
tools and resources developed under Plan EJ 2014 and other EPA 
initiatives to aid communities and EPA permitting authorities in 
incorporating environmental justice into the permitting process. The 
tools and resources include the EJ Legal Tools, which addresses EPA's 
legal authority to consider environmental justice, EPA's effort to 
develop a nationally consistent screening tool for environmental 
justice, and EPA's efforts to meaningfully engage local communities and 
stakeholders in government decisions on land cleanup, emergency 
preparedness and responses and the management of hazardous substances 
and wastes through the Community Engagement Network, and EPA's 
collaboration with other federal agencies to improve our community-
based actions and assistance and to strengthen the use of interagency 
legal tools, such as the National Environmental Policy Act and Title VI 
of the Civil Rights Act. These resources supplement information 
disseminated by EPA regional offices about their permit processes and 
particular permits.

II. Actions That EPA Regional Offices Can Take To Promote Meaningful 
Engagement in the Permitting Process by Overburdened Communities

    As noted above, EPA has identified a number of activities and 
approaches that can be used to promote greater public involvement of 
overburdened communities in its permitting processes, particularly for 
major permitting actions that may significantly impact them. Each EPA 
regional office will put in place a regional implementation plan to 
address meaningful engagement of overburdened communities in their 
permitting activities. This notice describes the general expectations 
for the regional plans and presents the framework and specific 
activities intended to enhance public participation.
    EPA's expectation is that each regional office will use the agency-
wide guidelines to develop a regional implementation plan that is 
appropriate for the particular circumstances within that region. The 
agency-wide guidelines in this notice are designed to promote 
consistency among regional offices and provide EPA's expectation for a 
basic regional plan. At the same time, EPA recognizes that each permit 
and community is different and that each EPA regional office has the 
insight and experience to develop strategies tailored to the particular 
communities and needs within that region. Therefore, EPA couples these 
agency-wide guidelines with the expectation that EPA regional offices 
have the flexibility in developing their implementation plans to take 
actions suited to the concerns of impacts on overburdened communities 
typically raised within their regions.
    This notice does not address any obligations imposed by the Civil 
Rights Act of 1964 or under EPA regulations at 40 CFR part 7. Please 
refer to EPA's Guidance to Environmental Protection Agency Financial 
Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin 
Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons and Title 
VI Public Involvement Guidance for EPA Assistance Recipients 
Administering Environmental Permitting Programs. This notice does not 
address Executive Order 13175 or EPA's Policy on Consultation and 
Coordination with Tribes. It is important to note the difference 
between the meaningful involvement of tribal communities as it is used 
in the EJ context and consultation with tribes. The Agency's 
responsibilities under E.O. 13175 are separate from the 
responsibilities under E.O. 12898 and stem from federally recognized 
tribes' status as sovereign governments.
    The activities described in this notice go beyond the standard 
notice-and-comment procedures required by law. EPA believes, however, 
that enhanced outreach can help to remove some of the barriers that can 
discourage overburdened communities from participating in permit 
processes that affect them and are appropriate in some circumstances.

A. Agency-Wide Guidelines for EPA Regional Offices

    The guidelines presented here provide a framework for the regional 
offices to identify possible actions they

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can take to promote the meaningful engagement of overburdened 
communities for priority permits. Specifically, the guidelines for EPA 
regional offices are designed to: (1) Help regional offices identify 
which permits to prioritize for greater public involvement for 
overburdened communities; and (2) suggest activities the regional 
offices can undertake to promote greater public involvement in their 
permitting process.
1. Priority Permits for Enhanced Public Involvement Opportunities
    Although any permit action may be an opportunity to enhance the 
engagement of a community, EPA believes that it is particularly 
important to provide meaningful engagement opportunities in permitting 
actions that may have significant public health or environmental 
impacts, such as a new operation or a modification of an existing 
operation, which may affect overburdened communities. Significant 
public outreach and engagement require significant resources. EPA 
recognizes its regional offices' limited ability to enhance engagement 
for every EPA-issued permit as well as the limited ability of 
overburdened communities to engage on every permit potentially 
impacting them. For this reason, EPA will consider prioritizing 
enhanced public involvement opportunities for those EPA-issued permits 
with significant public health or environmental impacts on already 
overburdened communities, determined by regional offices' use of a 
screening tool or other methodology. Examples of permits that may have 
significant public health or environmental impacts include, but are not 
limited to, the following:

 Construction permits under the Clean Air Act, especially new 
major sources (or major modifications of sources) of criteria 
pollutants;
 Significant Underground Injection Control Program permits 
under the Safe Drinking Water Act;
 ``Major'' industrial National Pollutant Discharge Elimination 
System (NPDES) permits (as defined in 40 CFR 122.2) under the Clean 
Water Act that are for:
    [cir] New sources or new dischargers, or
    [cir] Existing sources with major modifications, including, but not 
limited to, a new outfall, a new or changed process that results in the 
discharge of new pollutants, or an increase in production that results 
in an increased discharge of pollutants;
 ``Non-Major'' industrial NPDES permits (as defined in 40 CFR 
122.2) under the Clean Water Act that are identified by EPA on a 
national or regional basis as a focus area, for:
    [cir] New sources or new dischargers, or
    [cir] Existing sources with major modifications, including, but not 
limited to, a new outfall, a new or changed process that results in the 
discharge of new pollutants, or an increase in production that results 
in an increased discharge of pollutants; and
 RCRA permits associated with new combustion facilities or 
modifications to existing RCRA permits that address new treatment 
processes or corrective action cleanups involving potential off-site 
impacts.
In addition, EPA will consider prioritizing for enhanced public 
involvement activities both permit applications and renewals for which 
a community has raised plausible environmental justice concerns, and 
permit applications and renewals where EPA has other information 
indicating environmental justice concerns related to the permit.

    In further recognition of EPA's regional offices' limited ability 
for enhanced public engagement, a regional office may not prioritize 
every EPA-issued permit with significant public health or environmental 
impacts on already overburdened communities.
    Additionally, there may be circumstances under which a regional 
office finds enhanced public outreach appropriate irrespective of 
whether the permitting action has a significant public health or 
environmental impacts on already overburdened communities.
2. Regional Offices' Activities To Promote Greater Public Involvement 
in the Permitting Process
    Presented below is a proposed list of activities that EPA regional 
offices could undertake at key junctures in the permitting process to 
promote greater involvement of overburdened communities. The list of 
proposed activities is intended to identify priority areas of activity 
and to provide options for proposed activities in the development of 
regional implementation plans. Regional offices, therefore, may choose 
not to implement all of the proposed activities listed below. 
Similarly, the list of activities is not meant to be comprehensive or 
exhaustive. Different situations will justify different responses.
    Planning & Gathering Information:
    [cir] Identify upcoming priority permits for promoting greater 
public involvement. When identifying priority permits, focus on permits 
that the community has identified as a priority, to the extent such 
information is available.
    [cir] Locate existing data and studies that are relevant to the 
particular community.
    [cir] Explore ways to reach out to the affected community in 
coordination with relevant EPA staff, including permit writers, EJ 
coordinators, public affairs staff, the press office, and EPA's 
Conflict Prevention & Resolution Center.
    [cir] Evaluate the appropriate length of the public comment period.
    [cir] Consider holding information meetings for the public in 
addition to formal public comment sessions.
    Coordinating within EPA:
    [cir] For applicants with multiple EPA permits, inform EPA permit 
writers from other offices in the region that your office has received 
a permit application from the applicant.
    Communicating with the Community:
    [cir] Designate EPA point(s) of contact that the community can 
contact to discuss environmental justice concerns or questions of a 
technical nature about the permit application.
    [cir] Explain the permitting process by making informational fact 
sheets available.
    [cir] Use plain language when communicating with the public.
    [cir] Use communication techniques the community values, such as 
direct mailings, posters, articles in local newspapers, and emails to 
list serves.
    [cir] Offer translation services for communities with multi-lingual 
populations (including interpreters at public meetings or translations 
of public documents).
    [cir] Make key documents on the proposed project readily accessible 
to the community, using a variety of media tools (paper copies, online, 
etc.), when appropriate.
    [cir] Hold public meetings at times and places in the community 
best designed to afford the public a meaningful chance to attend.
    [cir] After the permit has been issued, make available to the 
community a summary of EPA's comment responses and provide information 
on where the community can find the entire comment response document.
    Communicating with the Permit Applicant:
    [cir] Encourage the permit applicant to provide EPA with a plain-
language description of its proposed project or permit application.
    [cir] Encourage the permit applicant to consult EPA guidance on 
environmental justice and other resources developed under Plan EJ 2014, 
including the (when

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finalized) Draft Best Practices for Permit Applicants Seeking EPA-
Issued Permits: Ways to Engage Communities at the Fence-Line. (See 
appendix.)

B. EPA's Expectations for Regional Implementation Plans

    EPA expects each regional office to develop, implement and make 
publically available a regional implementation plan consistent with the 
agency-wide guidelines presented in this notice in order to support the 
meaningful engagement of overburdened communities in the permitting 
process for priority permits. EPA believes that regional offices will 
be better able to provide opportunities for enhanced public 
participation when they have planned and allocated resources for 
outreach in advance through the development of regional implementation 
plans. EPA also believes that making the regional implementation plans 
publically available will increase transparency and inform communities 
of EPA regional offices' efforts to create opportunities for 
overburdened communities to meaningfully engage in the permitting 
process.
    EPA expects the regional implementation plans to address with more 
specificity the process that a regional office will use to prioritize 
permits for enhanced engagement, including the types of permits and 
activities the regional offices plan to implement. EPA expects the 
regional plans to be tailored to the region's specific needs but also 
to be consistent with the agency-wide guidelines direction on 
prioritization of permits for enhanced engagement and priority areas of 
outreach activities outlined in today's notice.
    Consistent with the agency-wide guidelines previously discussed, 
the regional implementation plans will include:
    I. The EPA Regional Office's process for prioritizing permits for 
enhanced engagement
    a. Use of a screening tool or other methodology to identify already 
overburdened communities;
    b. Types of permits with significant public health or environmental 
impacts.
    II. Priority Enhanced Outreach Activities
    a. Planning and gathering information;
    b. Coordinating within EPA;
    c. Communicating with the Community;
    d. Communicating with the Permit Applicant.

C. Solicitation of Comments

    EPA welcomes all comments on the proposed actions that Regional 
offices can take to promote the meaningful engagement of overburdened 
communities in the permitting process, but is particularly interested 
in comments addressing the following questions:
     Has EPA identified the appropriate agency-wide guidelines 
to inform the development of regional implementation plans? What other 
guidelines should EPA consider that provide both agency-wide 
consistency and regional flexibility in promoting the meaningful 
engagement of overburdened communities in the permitting process?
     What criteria should regional offices use to prioritize 
permits for enhanced outreach?
     For priority permits, has EPA identified the appropriate 
activities that regional offices can take to promote the greater 
involvement of overburdened communities in the permitting process? What 
other activities should EPA consider?
     Based on experiences you have had in the permitting 
process, what lessons have you learned that can be applied to improve 
the agency-wide guidelines or the regional implementation plans?

III. Draft Best Practices for Permit Applicants Seeking EPA-Issued 
Permits: Ways To Engage Communities at the Fence-Line

    Even though EPA is the permitting authority for EPA-issued permits, 
both the permit applicant and the potentially affected community are 
also key stakeholders in the permit process. Therefore, EPA engaged in 
extensive outreach to these stakeholders, and in particular the 
business community, on how to meaningfully engage fence-line 
communities in the permitting process. Business leaders on 
environmental justice issues shared their experiences and insights with 
EPA. EPA learned that if a permit applicant engages a community early 
and maintains that conversation, a partnership can form that 
facilitates the exchange of information and provides the foundation for 
dialogue on issues that may arise during the permitting process.
    Such engagement may be especially beneficial with communities that 
have historically been underrepresented in the permitting process and 
that potentially bear a real or perceived disproportionate burden of an 
area's pollution. EPA learned from its conversations with business 
stakeholders that dialogue with the community early in the permitting 
process promotes reasonable expectations among the public and, 
therefore, more predictable outcomes for the permit applicant. EPA also 
learned that permit applicants that invest in outreach may avoid the 
costs of delay, negative publicity among peers and investors, and 
community distrust resulting from a community objecting to a permit 
late in the permitting process.
    EPA believes that a facility that believes in environmental 
stewardship in all its dimensions and that acts consistently with that 
belief, including accountability to the neighboring community, may 
achieve more environmental good than any permit can compel. Reducing 
treatment failures, spills or other incidents becomes a source of 
organizational pride when the trends--and the facility's response and 
prevention strategies--are publicized within the community. These 
practices also make good business sense because facilities save energy, 
devise new technologies, reduce the rate of equipment failures, and 
develop cleaner products, among other things. This ethic of corporate 
responsibility--more than any permit--can improve the environment at 
the fence-line and far beyond. Engaging meaningfully with the local 
community is another facet of responsible corporate citizenship that 
achieves environmental results. EPA believes that a partnership with 
the community can lead to more informed permits, resulting in better 
outcomes for the permit applicant as well as the community that has a 
stake in the success of the facility.
    In order to maximize the benefits of community engagement, and 
conserve the limited resources of both the permit applicants and the 
communities for outreach, EPA has identified what it considers to be 
effective communication practices and strategies that permit applicants 
can employ to meaningfully involve communities in the permitting 
process. EPA gathered these practices and strategies from numerous 
conversations with environmental justice stakeholders, members of the 
business community, state, local and tribal governments and 
communities, non-governmental organizations, and the NEJAC. Based on 
these conversations, EPA has developed and solicits comment on the 
Draft Best Practices for Permit Applicants Seeking EPA-Issued Permits: 
Ways to Engage Communities at the Fence-line. (See appendix.)
    EPA hopes that these best practices, once finalized, will inform 
businesses and other participants in the permitting process of some 
effective techniques for

[[Page 38056]]

meaningfully engaging overburdened communities in the permitting 
process for EPA-issued permits. The final document would supplement 
existing guidance and recommendations issued by permitting authorities, 
including state and local agencies.
    The draft best practices presented here are designed to foster 
emerging leadership among permit applicants operating (or proposing to 
operate) facilities in overburdened communities. EPA emphasizes that no 
permit applicant will be required to follow these suggestions. To the 
contrary, EPA will continue to evaluate permit applications solely 
based on applicable regulations.
    EPA welcomes all comments on these draft best practices for permit 
applicants. EPA is particularly interested in comments addressing the 
following questions:
     What different or additional activities could permit 
applicants employ in the permitting process to meaningfully involve 
overburdened communities?
     Based on experiences you have had in the permitting 
process, what lessons have you learned or successful approaches you 
have employed that can be used by EPA to improve the best practice 
recommendations for permit applicants?
     How can EPA ensure that communities are aware of the 
opportunity to have a two-way dialogue with permit applicants through 
the ideas provided here?

IV. Conclusion

    EPA looks forward to considering suggestions and comments received 
in response to this notice. EPA hopes the creation of agency-wide 
guidelines and the development of regional implementation plans, as 
well as the presentation of best practices for permit applicants, will 
increase the meaningful participation of overburdened communities in 
the permitting process for EPA-issued permits. Although meaningful 
involvement in the permitting process may not always lead to reduced 
environmental impacts, EPA believes that every time an EPA permit 
writer or a permit applicant acknowledges a concern that would not have 
been aired but for enhanced outreach, communities and the permit 
applicant benefit. EPA further believes that every time this enhanced 
outreach leads to a feasible solution to an issue of interest to the 
community, all stakeholders benefit.

    Dated: June 15, 2012.
Janet McCabe,
Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation.

Appendix

Best Practices for Permit Applicants Seeking EPA-Issued Permits: Ways 
To Engage Communities at the Fence-Line

I. Introduction

    Achieving environmental justice is an integral part of EPA's 
mission to protect human health and the environment. One way EPA 
promotes environmental justice is to ensure that individuals in all 
parts of society have access to information sufficient to help them 
participate in EPA decision-making.
    EPA decision-making takes many forms. These best practices focus 
on the permitting process, through which EPA authorizes industrial 
and municipal facilities to release pollutants into the environment 
at levels intended to meet applicable standards.
    By soliciting public comment prior to issuing environmental 
permits, EPA plays an important role in bringing communities and 
other members of the public into the permitting conversation. But 
the best time to achieve positive, collaborative dialogue is before 
the permit is drafted, even before a permit application is filed. 
And the key players are not EPA but rather permit applicants and 
members of the neighboring community. Both sets of individuals have 
a long-term stake in the health of the community and the success of 
the company or enterprise.
    Information is critical at this early stage in the permitting 
process, and the permit applicant has access to the information that 
can create a constructive dialogue throughout the permitting 
process. The permit applicant also has an interest in being a good 
neighbor to the community on the other side of the facility's fence. 
EPA believes that many applicants for EPA-issued permits are 
employing practices to be good neighbors. These best practices are 
designed to help a permit applicant to apply its good neighbor 
values to the permitting process, with an emphasis on ways to reach 
out effectively to the community at the fence-line.
    EPA encourages all permit applicants to experiment with these 
practices; all neighborhoods and communities will benefit when a 
facility reaches out as part of its environmental permitting 
process. This document emphasizes communities at the fence-line 
because, for the vast majority of permits, communities most 
proximate to a facility are likely to be the most impacted by a 
permitting decision. For some permits, however, the communities most 
impacted by a permitting decision may exist beyond the fence-line. 
EPA encourages permit applicants for such permits to make efforts to 
engage the communities that are likely to experience public health 
or environmental impacts by their permitted activities. These 
practices also have particular value in overburdened neighborhoods 
that have been historically underrepresented in the permitting 
process and may face barriers to participation in the permitting 
process, such as include lack of trust, lack of awareness or 
information, language barriers, and limited access to technical and 
legal resources.
    While EPA will evaluate a permit application based solely on the 
applicable regulations, permit applicants are encouraged to employ 
the suggestions in these best practices. EPA hopes that these best 
practices--which emerged from EPA's conversations with a host of 
community, permit applicants and government stakeholders--will help 
applicants for EPA-issued permits to seize a leadership role in this 
important area and, in doing so, demonstrate publicly that the core 
values on their Web sites do indeed influence corporate behavior.

II. The Purpose of Best Practices

    The purpose of these best practices is to publicize the good 
neighbor practices already employed by permit applicants across the 
country and to encourage their greater use. Many of these practices 
are quite simple. The best practices can help build trust, promote a 
better understanding in the community of the facility's 
environmental impacts, foster realistic expectations and help build 
strong partnerships that will lead to better results for all 
parties. Investing in communities is a cost-effective strategy. EPA 
encourages permit applicants to make each of its facilities a good 
neighbor to the communities at their fence-line. EPA hopes that the 
best practices will help companies think of ways to engage the 
communities at their fence-lines and, in doing so, become better 
neighbors.

III. Why is EPA Providing Best Practices to Permit Applicants?

    Industrial facilities are important members of the communities 
in which they are located. In addition to their important role as a 
source of employment and economic stability within a community, 
facilities play other roles. Many facilities, for example, have 
robust community engagement strategies that recognize the value of 
community outreach. Pursuant to these strategies, facilities engage 
actively with the community through environmental initiatives, 
neighborhood beautification projects, education programs and 
charitable giving, civic programs and the arts, youth activities, 
and other investments in the community. Indeed, many companies and 
public authorities embody these principles in their mission 
statements, using words and phrases like collaboration, respect, and 
building mutually beneficial relationships. Some even aspire to 
measure their own success by the success of their customers, 
shareholders, employees and communities. In short, a corporate 
culture is emerging in this Nation that values and actively promotes 
community partnerships.
    EPA recognizes that many permit applicants already practice 
community outreach. These best practices are meant to encourage 
those leaders to continue their efforts. EPA hopes that the best 
practices will persuade those who are new to these ideas to 
experiment with this form of leadership, and to provide helpful 
suggestions for those seeking greater direction. Indeed, engaging 
with their communities as described here is consistent with many 
permit applicants' core

[[Page 38057]]

values. These principles, practices and values lead to corporate 
sustainability, stability and--ultimately--profitability.
    Early and meaningful dialogue between the permit applicant and 
the community is especially important in overburdened communities 
that have historically been underrepresented in the permitting 
process and that potentially bear a real or believed 
disproportionate burden of an area's pollution. Meaningful dialogue 
promotes environmental justice. EPA strongly encourages applicants 
for EPA-issued permits to engage in public outreach to the 
neighboring community whenever the facility's pollutant releases 
have--or may be perceived to have--potential health and 
environmental impacts on overburdened communities. This approach is 
consistent with EPA's objectives under Plan EJ 2014, which promotes 
meaningful involvement of the affected community in the permitting 
process.
    EPA believes these best practices can foster a smoother and 
faster permitting process. This outcome is in everyone's interest--
EPA, permit applicants and communities alike. The permit applicant 
and EPA have an interest in an efficient permitting process. The 
permit applicant wants permission to make operational improvements 
or construct a new facility. The permitting authority wants to 
efficiently issue a permit that comports with the law and accounts 
for public comment. The community at the very least wants the 
assurance that, through appropriate permit terms and conditions, the 
permit applicant accepts responsibility for appropriately 
controlling its pollutant releases and keeps the community informed 
of its control successes (and failures). These interests, while 
different, do not conflict. Conversations between the permit 
applicant and the community before the permit application is filed 
can help launch the permit process in a way that achieves all of 
these interests, with minimum conflict and delay. This could result 
in a more expeditious permitting process.
    Engagement early can also yield a less contentious permitting 
process. It seems axiomatic that no community welcomes one more 
source of pollution, especially when the community already feels 
aggrieved by past siting decisions. When the new project accelerates 
a transition to cleaner energy or achieves another important 
environmental objective with benefits beyond the local community, 
interests may seem to collide. Early meaningful dialogue can help 
sort out the interests, encourage a permit applicant to accept 
responsibility for its impacts, and perhaps find low-cost ways 
valuable to the community by which the permit applicant can 
voluntarily mitigate environmental burdens. A community is less 
likely to hold a new project responsible for past unrelated actions 
if the permit applicant accepts responsibility for its own actions 
and is willing to help make community life better.

IV. How Can a Permit Applicant Enhance its Outreach to a Fence-Line 
Community?

    There are many ways that a facility can enhance its outreach to 
a community. Whatever degree of outreach a facility chooses to 
employ, the following best practices are designed to help both the 
permit applicant and the surrounding communities get a reasonable 
return on their investment of time, energy and other resources. EPA 
gathered these ideas from permit applicants that have employed them, 
but the permit applicant and the affected community are in the best 
position to determine what engagement strategy is most appropriate 
for their particular circumstances.

1. Think Ahead

    Before deciding whether to undertake special efforts to reach 
out to the neighboring community regarding a permit application, a 
permit applicant may want to ask itself the following types of 
questions. The answers to these questions may help the permit 
applicant decide what kind of community engagement will make sense 
under the circumstances.
     Would the new permit introduce new or additional 
pollutants to the fence-line community?
     Is the fence-line community already exposed to 
pollutants originating from other facilities?
     How will changes at the facility site affect the 
quality of life in the fence-line community, independent of the 
pollutants released?
     Is the proposed pollutant release--or associated 
activity--likely to cause concern in the community?
     If a risk assessment has been performed for the 
community, what does it say? What does the community think it says?
     What direction do the permit applicant's published core 
values offer?
    Some laws, such as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 
require permit applicants to reach out to the neighboring community 
before applying for a permit. In most cases, however, the decision 
on whether to engage in pre-application outreach is committed to the 
permit applicant's good judgment. (See Section V below for a 
discussion of the benefits to permit applicants when they engage the 
community as part of permit applications.) But whatever way a permit 
applicant chooses to engage the neighboring community, its outreach 
activities should be proportional to the actual or perceived impact 
the facility's proposed permitting action would have upon the 
community. In other words, permitting actions that may have a 
significant impact on the community may justify more extensive 
outreach than permits likely to have fewer impacts. Engaging the 
community early in the permitting process can help a permit 
applicant gauge the level of outreach appropriate to the community's 
concerns.
    A public participation plan can be a useful tool for permit 
applicants engaged in outreach on permit actions. A public 
participation plan is one way to organize all of the permit 
applicant's outreach activities and to communicate those activities 
to the community.
    EPA also recognizes that a permit applicant, despite its 
planning and execution, might not elicit community interest in its 
project. For example, few people might attend meetings or visit the 
plant for tours. Before concluding that the community is 
uninterested in the project, the company may want to explore whether 
its engagement efforts were sufficiently tailored for the community. 
Other factors, such as lack of awareness of the engagement 
opportunity or the timing of the opportunity, may not have afforded 
the community a meaningful chance to attend. If the permit 
applicant's efforts to engage the community are made in good faith 
and are sufficiently tailored for the community, this will go a long 
way toward building trust.

2. Engage Community Leaders

    One of the best ways to promote early and meaningful engagement 
between a permit applicant and the surrounding community is by 
creating a community environmental partnership. The key is to 
assemble the right people to be in partnership. EPA has learned from 
stakeholders that the first step in meaningful engagement is the 
cultivation of a trusting relationship among participating 
individuals; doing so will then foster effective relationships among 
the interests they represent and will help identify their common as 
well as their unique goals. The following best practices can help a 
company create a successful community environmental partnership.

 Find out who the established community leaders are, both 
elected and unelected.
 On tribal lands, work with the tribal government and other 
contacts to identify tribal community leaders to commence outreach 
and assistance to tribal communities.
 Identify people who collectively understand the needs (and 
aspirations) of local stakeholders (permit applicant, community, 
environmental groups, academic, etc.)
 Recruit stakeholder representatives who have strong 
interpersonal skills and are willing to:
    [cir] Seek common interests;
    [cir] Cultivate a trusting relationship
 Engage with diverse leadership so that many views can be 
brought into the dialogue. Successful partnerships have a variety of 
local perspectives, including:
    [cir] Grassroots organizations and leaders
    [cir] Faith community leaders
    [cir] Tribal government and community representatives
    [cir] Academic institutions
    [cir] State, county or local governments
    [cir] Environmental groups
    [cir] Health organizations
    [cir] Permittees, including, ideally, the facilities in the 
neighborhood that engage in activities that generate pollution.

    Text Box 1: Community Advisory Councils, such as The Deer Park 
Community Advisory Council (DPCAC, http://www.deerparkcac.org/) 
provide a ``forum for an open and frank mutual exchange of ideas 
between representatives of the local community and industry.'' These 
groups engage in frequent dialogue to help build understanding 
between industry and community.
 Foster sustained involvement by the participants; 
relationships are created

[[Page 38058]]

between individuals, not the positions they hold.

3. Engage Effectively

    As is the case with any relationship, predictable and ongoing 
interactions are key to a strong partnership between a permit 
applicant and community. A permit applicant engaging a community 
early in the permitting process, or even before the formal 
permitting process begins through pre-application meetings, can lay 
the foundation for a positive relationship with a community. In 
addition to early engagement, holding regularly scheduled meetings 
throughout the permitting process can build on that earlier 
outreach, further fostering the relationship between the community 
and permit applicant.
    The following best practices can help the permit applicant 
engage effectively with the community.

 If a public participation plan describing outreach 
activities was developed, make it available to the public as a sign 
of the permit applicant's intention to engage meaningfully with the 
community.
 Invite community members and leaders to comment on 
community outreach plans and processes, and give feedback on what is 
working and lessons learned.
 Discuss project plans and potential impacts as early in the 
planning process as possible, even if the permit applicant can speak 
only in general terms.
    [cir] If the permit applicant is unsure about potential impacts, 
it is better to acknowledge this fact; denying the existence of 
potential impacts can undermine credibility and trust.
    [cir] Encourage input from the community on their concerns about 
particular impacts early in the planning stages.
 Provide progress or status reports
 Invite members of the community and community leaders for 
regular tours of the facility, especially when the facility is 
planning to change a process that might affect the community.
 Consider investing time in public education, e.g., by 
hosting one or two day public information sessions with posters and 
kiosks dedicated to specific topics, with discussions led by 
facility personnel who are both familiar with the subject and 
capable of effective discussion with the public (conversational 
tone, not defensive, non-technical language, etc.)

4. Communicate Effectively

    Permit applicants may need help to determine the most effective 
and appropriate methods for informing and receiving input from the 
community. Community leaders can provide this help. For example they 
can identify commonly spoken languages and any language barriers or 
Limited English Proficiency within the fence-line. They can also 
help identify which media outlets (radio, newspaper, church 
bulletins), outreach methods (knocking door-to-door, using social 
media, texting, phoning, putting up fliers) and outreach materials 
(brochures, fact sheets, postcards, letters) will be most effective 
in communicating with the community. Community leaders can also help 
to create more effective opportunities to receive information from 
the public (individual/small/large/public/private meetings, 
anonymous hotlines, solicitation of written comments). Every 
community is different, so permit applicants that listen to their 
community's advice and involve them in their outreach efforts have a 
greater chance of a successful outcome.
    A key component of effective communication is creating an 
environment for all stakeholders to meaningfully participate in a 
dialogue. Good ideas, including ideas that are good for the 
permitted enterprise or business, can come from many sources. By 
meaningfully engaging with the community potentially affected by an 
environmental permit, a permit applicant may acquire a better sense 
of a community's true concerns and ways a permit applicant could 
help alleviate them. Transparency and disclosure of information that 
may be of interest to a community, such as performance reports, can 
build trust conducive to meaningful dialogue.
    Text Box 2: Alternative Dispute Resolution
    The success of pre-application meetings will vary widely 
depending on the proposed project, the concerns of the community, 
and the ability of the permit applicant and the community to agree 
upon potential solutions. Sometimes, conversations between a 
community and a permit applicant have the potential to be 
contentious. As such, EPA recommends the use of a professional, 
trained, neutral facilitator to aid in creating and implementing 
their outreach strategy. EPA and The U.S. Institute for 
Environmental Conflict Resolution have designed and initiated The 
National Roster of Environmental Dispute Resolution and Consensus 
Building Professionals (http://roster.ecr.gov/Search.aspx), which is 
a resource to identify neutral third parties and connect them with 
appropriate projects.
    EPA recognizes that both permit applicants and the communities 
have limited resources to engage in dialogue. The following best 
practices on fostering two-way communication and collaboration 
between permit applicants and communities, collected from permit 
applicants and communities, may help permit applicants communicate 
more effectively and thus efficiently use their resources.

 Set up a hotline for community members to report a problem 
or concern about the proposed project.
 Identify a single person within the facility to be the 
liaison that community members can call with concerns or problems.
 Institute regular meetings among all stakeholders
 Consider organizing citizen advisory councils or community 
environmental partnerships
 Select meeting locations and times that are convenient and 
comfortable for the community. Follow advice from community leaders 
to communicate in ways most effective for the community you are 
trying to reach. Use language and terminology that the community 
understands, including providing technical data in every-day terms.
 Build in mechanisms for meeting attendees to ask questions, 
express concerns and propose solutions.
 During the meeting, talk about participants' concerns and 
questions (rather than simply ``taking note'' of them).
 Recognize that community members may be concerned about a 
variety of things, within and outside the permit applicant's 
control, including matters that do not relate to the permit under 
discussion (e.g., truck routes, delivery times, etc.)
    [cir] Careful listening and an effort to understand the 
underlying interests behind related and seemingly unrelated 
complaints might yield a solution that addresses the community's 
true concerns at a reasonable (or even minimal) cost to the 
facility.
 Consider using a neutral facilitator to assist in designing 
an effective public participation process and conduct meetings to 
encourage all participants (permit applicant and community like) to 
listen effectively, focus on interests rather than initial 
positions, and to identify potential solutions.

5. Follow Up

    Follow-up can be crucial in building a strong partnership with a 
community. The repeated interaction that follow-up provides can 
create a predictable pattern of engagement that is conducive to 
building trust. When a permit applicant delivers on commitments made 
during meetings (e.g., to provide additional information) a permit 
applicant demonstrates responsibility, integrity and commitment to 
the process. The following best practices can help permit applicants 
design follow-up activities with communities.

 If the public is invited to comment on plans, discuss the 
comments with the community after considering them.
    [cir] If a comment is not clear, ask for clarification; do not 
ignore a suggestion due to a lack of understanding.
    [cir] Report back to the community to let them know how their 
comments affected the permit applicant's planning or operation.
    [cir] Explain when comments cannot be incorporated into the 
permit applicant's planned actions.
 Consider using a good neighborhood agreement to memorialize 
agreements between permit applicants and communities.
 Make environmental performance records available to the 
community without being asked, especially regarding pollution 
matters that are important to the community.
 Keep the conversation going even after the permit has been 
issued; maintaining a collaborative relationship with the community 
can pay benefits at unexpected times.

V. Return on Investment: Benefits of Outreach to Permit Applicants

    EPA recognizes that a permit applicant would need to invest 
time, energy and money

[[Page 38059]]

in order to reach out to the neighboring community. For some permit 
applicants, ``business as usual'' might appear to be the path of 
least resistance. But EPA has learned from conversations with 
permittees that permit applicants that engage in effective outreach 
with fence-line communities can realize a meaningful return on that 
investment. The list below reflects these conversations. To further 
illustrate these ideas, we present text (in italics) from corporate 
mission statements, lists of corporate values, and annual reports 
linking these benefits from effective community outreach and 
engagement to overarching business principles.
    1. The neighborhood has a stake in a permit applicant's success. 
Community members are not only neighbors, but also often employees, 
customers or investors. As such, healthy and sustainable companies 
directly promote healthy and sustainable communities. That alignment 
of interests can lead to creative solutions that promote the 
achievement of mutual economic goals in more sustainable ways. We 
are proud of our involvement in the communities where we operate. 
It's our goal not only to support important projects in the 
communities where we operate, but also to partner and build 
relationships where we live and work. We always listen to local 
needs and find ways to invest that are relevant to our business.
    2. An environment of trust pays dividends throughout the permit 
term. A permit applicant not only applies for a permit but also 
develops strategies for complying with its requirements. Meaningful 
public engagement during the permitting process and throughout the 
permit term can be a thoughtful component of a permit applicant's 
compliance strategy. Community members often say they have nowhere 
to turn when they worry about their local environment; a meaningful 
dialogue with the permit applicant that addresses their concerns can 
build trust. So, a permit applicant that experiences a failure of 
its treatment processes--and, in real time, discloses and takes 
action to remedy the problem--may maintain its reservoir of trust 
within the community. We know you have questions; call us. We 
believe that people work best when there's a foundation of trust.
    3. Engaging with the community is an effective cost-containment 
strategy. Permit applicants that foster meaningful community 
outreach experience ``costs'' in terms of time, resources energy, 
and money. But a permit applicant that bypasses outreach incurs 
costs as well, especially when these choices lead to 
misunderstandings in the community. Even if the permit is granted, 
at what cost? Certainly, the permit applicant incurs the cost of 
delay, negative publicity among peers and investors, and community 
distrust (even apart from attorneys' fees associated with 
litigation). Each of these costs has a monetary value and each is 
potentially avoidable with an upfront investment. Good business 
sense often dictates a small investment early in order to avert 
larger costs later. Corporate leaders tell us that meaningful 
community outreach is no different. Successful companies engage in 
long-term planning to achieve strategic goals. Working with the 
community during project development and implementation is just part 
of the process.
    4. Engaging with the community is an effective risk management 
strategy. Thoughtful risk-taking is a characteristic of many 
successful enterprises. A permit applicant engaged in thoughtful 
risk-taking around a new idea routinely gathers information and 
critically examines the idea from many perspectives, identifies the 
range of possible risks, modifies the idea as appropriate to 
minimize the risks, and then weighs the benefits against the risks 
that remain. The better a permit applicant anticipates and manages 
the risks, the more predictable and successful the outcome. Engaging 
the community early in a permit applicant's decision-making process 
can be an effective way to manage the risks of a new idea. A permit 
applicant that is truly open to gathering information, dialogue, and 
collaboration will find itself with a more predictable operating or 
business environment, reduced conflict, and, frequently, an outcome 
that achieves greater operational efficiency and community support. 
Its risk-taking is thoughtful because it identifies, analyzes and 
manages its risks. Permit applicants that are thoughtful risk-takers 
recognize that having an engaged and informed community as an ally 
promotes reasonable expectations among the public and, therefore, 
more predictable outcomes. We practice humility and intellectual 
honesty. We consistently seek to understand and constructively deal 
with reality in order to create value and achieve personal 
improvement.
    5. A permit applicant that engages meaningfully with a community 
is more likely to be considered a good neighbor. A permit applicant 
is more likely to be seen as a good neighbor by a community when it 
makes efforts to engage and build a relationship with the community. 
Having treated the community as a good neighbor, the permit 
applicant is more likely to be treated as a good neighbor in return 
by the community. A community that understands the actual impacts a 
facility has on the neighborhood and trusts the facility to behave 
responsibly may also be less likely to hold the facility responsible 
for other facilities' pollution. We are committed to improving our 
environmental performance: we track our progress and report our 
results to the public.
    6. Investors prefer good corporate citizens. Even if a permit 
applicant survives a dispute with a community over a new project and 
obtains the necessary environmental permits, investors may well 
inquire whether that costly battle could have been avoided. Indeed, 
some investors might even wonder whether the permit applicant's 
inadequate response to the neighboring community's concerns signals 
a lack of corporate responsibility, values-based leadership, or 
long-term strategic thinking that is important in other areas of the 
business. Leaders in this area say: It is more important than ever 
that we continually earn investor confidence. We will do this by 
remaining a leader in good corporate governance and providing clear, 
consistent, and truthful communication about our performance.
    Text Box 3: Collaborations in Chester, Pennsylvania
    Since the early 1990s, US EPA Region III has been working 
closely with the community and residents of Chester. With effective 
collaborations and partnerships, the City of Chester and its 
residents have successfully worked with local business and industry, 
government, and academia. These community-driven partnerships have 
led to increased awareness of environmental justice within the City 
of Chester.
    When citizens first raised their Environmental Justice concerns 
to EPA Region III, the regional Office took action by establishing a 
dialogue with the citizens, PADEP, PADOH, and a number of local 
businesses in an effort to bring greater understanding and resources 
to the issues and concerns. EPA Region III, PADEP, and PADOH were 
active in working with the community and the other partners to 
address the issues that had been raised. The 1995 EPA Chester Risk 
Study not only looked at community risk and environmental concerns, 
but opened dialogues among the partners, and led to the formation of 
a number of workgroups. The workgroups then undertook on-the-ground 
actions to address some of the local concerns. PADEP provided an 
onsite inspector for the City of Chester. EPA and PADEP continued 
their dialogue on Environmental Justice, holding a number of joint 
meetings on the issues.
    Covanta Energy applied for permits to operate in Chester, and 
the citizens raised their concerns to Region III and PADEP. PADEP 
hosted a series of meetings between the citizens and the company. 
From these collaborative discussions, the Chester residents' 
concerns were heard and considered, and an agreement was reached 
that allowed for the citizens and the company to have their needs 
met. Covanta continues to work proactively with the citizens in a 
productive and successful partnership, primarily through a citizen-
led community organization called the Chester Environmental 
Partnership, founded and chaired by Reverend Dr. Horace Strand. The 
residents and other community stakeholders, including Covanta, have 
worked together in a primarily cooperative fashion to effect change 
and environmental improvement in Chester. The Chester Environmental 
Partnership works to bring about environmental improvement and 
growth by bringing all parties to the table--industry, government, 
non-government organizations, and the citizens--to have face to face 
dialogue on issues of concern. Covanta has taken an active 
partnership role in CEP. The ongoing dialogue and ground work of the 
partnership is a hallmark of these collaborative efforts and 
reflects a community-driven model that has produced positive results 
for Chester and its neighbors.

Conclusion

    The best practices are a starting point intended to initiate 
partnerships between communities and permit applicants. EPA believes 
that a permit applicant that follows the best practices will take an 
important step on the path to building a fruitful and cooperative 
relationship with the community

[[Page 38060]]

on environmental issues. EPA also believes that a permit applicant's 
efforts to meaningfully engage an overburdened community are an 
important way to promote environmental justice. EPA agrees with the 
message that many stakeholders send: collaborations between permit 
applicants and the surrounding neighborhoods achieve greater 
environmental protections, more profitable operations, and more 
sustainable communities.

[FR Doc. 2012-15605 Filed 6-25-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6560-50-P