EPA, CalEPA Release Plan for Joint Enforcement Work to Protect California Communities Overburdened by Pollution

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Plan Builds on Groundbreaking Federal-State Partnership Launched through 2021 Environmental Justice-Focused Agreement

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) today released a two-year action plan to collaboratively address environmental justice issues across California by enforcing laws that protect public health and the environment.

In 2021, EPA and CalEPA signed a five-year, first-of-its-kind agreement to expand joint federal-state activities for reducing pollution burdens, increasing environmental compliance and improving public health outcomes in overburdened California communities. In late 2022, the agencies released a 2023 Action Plan, and today they are releasing a 2024/25 action plan under the initial agreement, which builds on feedback from community partners and helps guide the agencies’ shared civil and criminal enforcement approaches through 2025.

“We are proud to continue this groundbreaking partnership with CalEPA to help ensure cleaner air, water and land for underserved communities across California,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “Enforcement of environmental laws has an enormous potential to address environmental justice issues, and working collaboratively with a committed state partner like CalEPA allows both agencies to focus our resources more narrowly on addressing community priorities.”

“CalEPA has long committed to working closely with community partners to understand and best respond to enforcement and compliance challenges impacting their health and wellbeing. We are excited to continue our first-of-its-kind partnership with U.S. EPA and leverage our shared resources to improve air, water, and soil quality and hold corporate polluters accountable,” said CalEPA Secretary Yana Garcia.

Focal areas under the 2024/2025 Environmental Justice Enforcement Action Plan include:

  • A renewed commitment to enhanced, sustained engagement with the five community forums in Los Angeles, Fresno County, Kern County, the Eastern Coachella Valley and the Bayview-Hunters Point community in San Francisco, which were piloted under the 2023 action plan.
  • Continued use of rapid response task forces.
  • Increased transparency and access to environmental compliance information for the public.
  • Strengthened connections, including enhanced opportunities for information sharing across communities and improved communication among program areas within agencies.

Through partnerships in each of these areas, EPA and CalEPA start with a community-first approach for strategic targeting and enforcement. The agencies convene monthly meetings to understand community concerns, follow up on all complaints, work across environmental areas (e.g., air, soil, water) and levels of government to seek solutions, and regularly communicate with the forum’s participants regarding their progress and any challenges. EPA and CalEPA may use civil and criminal enforcement tools at their disposal to determine the most appropriate actions to hold facilities accountable or, when needed, refer them to the most appropriate authority.

Local successes and commitments from this partnership include:

  • Response to fire at Radius Recycling in Oakland — In August 2023, a fire was reported at Radius Recycling (formerly known as Schnitzer Steel) in Oakland. After the fire was extinguished, the community had questions about persisting environmental threats from the incident. In response, EPA and CalEPA set up a rapid response task force to coordinate and expedite investigations, negotiate corrective actions, and demand accountability for environmental non-compliance. It also compiled and consolidated information and distributed it to regulators and to the public. The task force now serves as the prototype for the agencies’ new rapid response task force tool.
  • Illegal Dumping in Fresno County — Communities in Fresno, like many across the state, are burdened by illegal dumping. After learning from community members about a large and longstanding illegal dumpsite in Lanare, an unincorporated community in Fresno County, EPA and CalEPA engaged the relevant state and local agencies to remove and clean up the illegal dumpsite. These efforts wrapped up in February of 2023. Under the federal-state partnership, as part of ongoing action to enhance and sustain engagement with community forums, the agencies continue to partner with the Fresno IVAN (Investigating Violations Affecting Neighborhoods) to address illegal dumping elsewhere in the county.
  • Del Amo Action Committee Participation in Emergency Response Drill — The Del Amo Action Committee, a key community partner in Los Angeles, has long expressed concerns about JCI Jones, a chemical facility located immediately adjacent to residential neighborhoods in Torrance, California. Residents wanted to have a voice in emergency response planning, in the event of a chemical release. Acting on these requests, EPA and CalEPA worked with JCI Jones and local emergency responders to conduct an emergency response drill with community participation. As a result, the community is working on an emergency response plan for their community that they expect to release by early 2025.
  • Alameda Corridor in Los Angeles — As part of EPA’s national priority enforcement initiatives, the Agency has committed to identifying and taking action in focus areas with environmental justice concerns across the country. One of those areas is the Mid-Alameda Corridor in Los Angeles, a 35-square-mile area with nearly half a million residents. EPA will engage with environmental and community groups in the area to receive input on challenges and investigate specific facilities or areas of concern. EPA will partner with relevant California state and local partners as part of this effort.

Read the 2024/2025 Environmental Justice Enforcement Action Plan on EPA’s website.

Read about implementation of the previous Action Plan on CalEPA’s website.

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