Environmental Justice and the NRC
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff is conducting a systematic review of how the agency’s programs, policies, and activities address environmental justice. As directed by the Commission, the staff will evaluate recent Executive Orders and assess whether environmental justice is appropriately considered and addressed in the agency’s programs, policies, and activities, such as adjudicatory procedures and environmental reviews, given the agency’s mission.
An Environmental Justice Review Team was established in the Office of the Executive Director for Operations to conduct the review (Team Charter
). During this review, the Team will:
- benchmark practices of other federal, state, and tribal agencies
- evaluate whether the NRC should incorporate environmental justice beyond implementation through the National Environmental Policy Act
- review the adequacy of the 2004 Policy Statement on the Treatment of Environmental Justice Matters in NRC Regulatory and Licensing Actions
- consider whether establishing formal mechanisms to gather external stakeholder input would benefit any future environmental justice efforts
The NRC will engage with internal and external stakeholders and interested persons representing a broad range of perspectives to solicit their views. The staff will leverage institutional knowledge and use NRC transformation initiatives, where practicable, to inform the review. In early December, the Commission granted the team’s request for an extension to allow sufficient time to assess the large number of public comments received. The results of the review are now due to the Commission in late March 2022.
The public comment period for our environmental justice review has ended. We received approximately 2,500 comment submissions! Thank you for your interest and your insights. The Environmental Justice Review Team is hard at work assessing your comments and suggestions, which will help us develop recommendations to send to the Commission in February. Please check this page often for updates as we continue our review.
Questions for the Public
The staff’s Environmental Justice Review Team is requesting public comment to aid in this review. The staff published a Federal Register notice on July 9, 2021, requesting comments through August 23, 2021. The comment period was extended to October 29, 2021 (Federal Register notice). This notice includes several questions on which the staff is particularly interested in receiving input.
What is your understanding of what is meant by environmental justice at the NRC?
As described in the Commission's 2004 Policy Statement on the Treatment of Environmental Justice Matters in NRC Regulatory and Licensing Actions (69 FR 52040), the NRC currently addresses environmental justice in its NEPA reviews to determine if a proposed agency action will have disproportionately high and adverse impacts on minority and low-income communities, defined as environmental justice communities.
What actions could the NRC take to enhance consideration of environmental justice in the NRC's programs, policies and activities and agency decision-making, considering the agency's mission and statutory authority?
- When the NRC is conducting licensing and other regulatory reviews, the agency uses a variety of ways to gather information from stakeholders and interested persons on environmental impacts of the proposed agency action, such as in-person and virtual meetings, Federal Register notices requesting input, and dialog with community organizations.
- How could the NRC expand how it engages and gathers input?
- What formal tools might there be to enhance information gathering from stakeholders and interested persons in NRC's programs, policies, and activities?
- Can you describe any challenges that may affect your ability to engage with the NRC on environmental justice issues?
- How could the NRC enhance opportunities for members of environmental justice communities to participate in licensing and regulatory activities, including the identification of impacts and other environmental justice concerns?
- What ways could the NRC enhance identification of environmental justice communities?
- What has the NRC historically done well, or currently does well that we could do more of or expand with respect to environmental justice in our programs, policies, and activities, including engagement efforts? In your view, what portions of the 2004 Policy Statement are effective?
- Would you recommend that NRC consider any particular organization's environmental justice program(s) in its assessment?
- Looking to other Federal, State, and Tribal agencies' environmental justice programs, what actions could the NRC take to enhance consideration of environmental justice in the NRC's programs, policies, and activities?
- Considering recent Executive Orders on environmental justice, what actions could the NRC take to enhance consideration of environmental justice in the NRC's programs, policies, and activities?
- Are there opportunities to expand consideration of environmental justice in NRC programs, policies, and activities, considering the agency's mission? If so, what are they?
The public comment period has ended. To reach the Environmental Justice Review Team, please email NRC-EJReview@nrc.gov.
On July 15, 2021, the Environmental Justice Review Team held two public meetings via webinar as part of its public outreach efforts.
- Transcript of the July 15, 2021, afternoon meeting
- Transcript of the July 15, 2021, evening meeting
- Summary of the July 15, 2021, public meetings
- Audio of the September 27, 2021, public Listening Session
- Audio of the September 27, 2021, public Round Table Discussion
- Transcript of the September 27, 2021, public Listening Session and Round Table Discussion
- Summary of the September 27, 2021, public Listening Session and Round Table Discussion
- Audio of the October 21, 2021, public meeting
- Transcript of the October 21 public meeting
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, December 09, 2021