The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently announced the publication of a comprehensive study evaluating its own environmental justice (EJ) practices and authorities. The 47-page report, developed over the course of 18 months with the assistance of a Virginia-based consulting firm, makes a number of recommendations concerning agency leadership, staff capacity, guidance, and community engagement, among others. The team developing the study conducted more than 70 interviews with stakeholders from every relevant sector and from communities across the Commonwealth, particularly those most affected by EJ concerns.
While some recommendations require new agency resources, authority, or other developments in order to be implemented, DEQ is moving forward with others including the creation of an Office of Environmental Justice and the appointment of a Director for that office.
DEQ Director David Paylor notes that “DEQ has outlined the agency’s next steps and we will make every available investment possible to ensure success…Our work to incorporate environmental justice into the things we do will be an ongoing process, one that is inclusive, collaborative, and transparent by design.”