EPA’s Draft Strategic Plan Targets Climate, Environmental Justice

Source: By InsideEPA • Posted: Sunday, October 3, 2021

The Biden EPA has unveiled its draft strategic plan for fiscal years 2022-2026 that seeks to integrate climate change and environmental justice considerations into all agency actions, an effort that aims to formally institutionalize the administration’s priority items into EPA’s policy agenda

“EPA is at the center of the Biden-Harris administration’s agenda on climate change and environmental justice, and so it’s critical that our strategic direction reflect those priorities and values,” Administrator Michael Regan said in an Oct. 1 statement.

The draft plan, released Oct. 1, adds addressing climate change and environmental justice to the traditional programmatic goals for enforcement and compliance, air quality, water quality, land revitalization, and chemical safety.

And it highlights three short-term goals for FY22-23 that “are intended to jumpstart actions and showcase progress toward” addressing Regan’s priorities.

These are: phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons; clean up contaminated sites and invest in water infrastructure to enhance the livability and economic vitality of overburdened and underserved communities; and work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to reduce exposure to lead to protect families, particularly children, in overburdened and underserved communities.

The draft document generally follows the same outline that agency staff shared with state officials earlier this year, with seven strategic goals and four cross-agency strategies.

“In this Strategic Plan, the Agency renews its commitment to the three principles articulated by William Ruckelshaus, who served as the EPA’s first Administrator (1970 — 1973, and then again from 1983 — 1985), to: follow the science, follow the law, and be transparent,” the draft plan says.

“The Agency also adds a fourth foundational principle: advance justice and equity. We add this principle to infuse the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals into all EPA policies, practices, and programs,” the plan continues.

The draft plan also includes a first-time learning agenda and capacity assessment, consistent with the requirements of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018. “The Learning Agenda will address key questions across priority areas by leveraging high-quality data. The Capacity Assessment will guide our efforts to develop the skills, expertise, and infrastructure that support routine, rigorous use of data,” the draft plan says.

And its four cross-agency strategies “describe the essential ways EPA will carry out our mission,” the agency says. These strategies include reinforcing science as foundational to agency decision making; protecting children’s environmental health; building back EPA’s workforce with particular attention to equity and enhancing mission-support functions to achieve organizational excellence; and renewing the agency’s commitment to EPA’s trust responsibility to tribal nations and our engagement with tribal, state, and local government partners, stakeholders, the regulated community, and the public.

The strategic plan includes a suite of long-term performance goals (LTPGs) that reflect the quantifiable outcomes the agency will achieve for each strategic objective and cross-agency strategy by 2026. “LTPGs will help us understand, monitor, and tell the story of progress we are making to partners and external stakeholders, Agency employees, and the public,” the plan says.

EPA is taking public comment on the draft plan until Nov. 12 and says it expects to send the final plan to Congress in February.