Welcome to the fourth issue of our quarterly Environmental Justice newsletter, brought to you by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ)! This newsletter is dedicated to bringing you the latest developments, inspiring stories, and resources on the path to achieving environmental equity. In this issue, we delve into the progress made in the past three months, highlighting significant milestones and challenges faced in the pursuit of a just and sustainable world.
Also, don’t forget to check out potential funding opportunities at the bottom!
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The OEJ hosted several public comment meetings across the state from October to November; concluding with the submittal deadline of November 30 for all new comments regarding the revised Interim Final EJ Policy (EJ Policy). Meetings included a short presentation on the difference between the old policy and the new one, and some additional details on the new PennEnviroScreen (PES) tool for EJ areas analysis. Some recurring sentiments across the state were: 
  • Strong support from community members and advocacy groups for the implementation of an EJ policy, with strong desire for more enforcement authority, many stating they wished the policy had “more teeth”
  • Folks expressed appreciation for the implementation of suggestions from the previous rounds of public comments
  • Greater EJ consideration/coordination with transportation projects
  • Better pre-application permit coordinating/outreach to communities in EJ areas
  • Greater clarification on the PES tool and need for more user-friendly PES training
  • More consistent community engagement efforts in EJ areas
  • Micro-impact and contaminant settling issues in air quality considerations
  • More equitable funding/financing considerations for EJ impacted areas
Please note, these are but a few of the many comments received officially via the eComment tool. Lookout for the public comment response document in the upcoming year. Special thanks to all the hosting facilities that aided in the coordination the in-person meetings:
  • Brady Fire Company Banquet Hall (Ranshaw)
  • University of Scranton, Loyola Science Center (Scranton)
  • Erie Center for Arts & Technology, (Erie)
  • Northside Institutional COGIC (Pittsburgh)
  • Camp Curtin YMCA (Harrisburg)
  • ACCESS Community Center (Chester)
  • Drexel University (Philadelphia)
  • Washington & Jefferson College (Washington)
  • La Toxica Event Space (Allentown)


Health Equity Summit (2024) Invites Speakers to Highlight "Joy and Justice."

The 2024 Health Equity Summit will take place in Harrisburg, PA on April 4 & 5, and this year’s theme is: “Joy and Justice.” The 2024 Health Equity Summit gathers experts and leaders across various sectors for a 2-day event to engage in productive conversations and collaboration to promote health equity in Pennsylvania. Health equity involves providing every person, regardless of location, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, the same opportunity to live their healthiest life and reach their full potential. The 2024 Health Equity Summit will work towards this goal by putting forward new innovative approaches and furthering the effectiveness of current initiatives that contribute to Pennsylvania achieving health equity by 2030. We invite you to register here, if you would like to be a speaker or know someone who would be a great addition.

Greener Jobs and the Branching Up Prison Program

In context of the future of greener jobs and a just transition in addressing climate change, have you heard about Temple University’s Branching Up Program? This initiative provides students with comprehensive skills-based training that equips them for careers in green industries. The 6-week education program combines work experience in the Philadelphia Department of Prison’s 200-tree orchard, greenhouses, hoop houses, compost facility, and an outdoor landscaping classroom. Classes will focus on business skills, relationship skills, nutrition, and the fundamentals of organic agriculture and sustainability.

The Philadelphia Department of Prisons operated a composting facility to address food waste. After a food waste audit was performed, it was estimated that each incarcerated person generates 1.4lbs per day of food waste. The composting facility currently averages about a ton and half of source separated organics (Food Waste) per week. The compost bays were designed for the inputs of up to 10,000 incarcerated persons. The orchard and greenhouses have resulted in over 6,400 lbs of organic food donations for this past growing season. Initiatives such as the Branching Up Program provides opportunities for developing transferrable skills and much needed access to nature and greenspaces, which have been linked to better mental health. For more information, reach out to the Laura Cassidy at


Are you looking for potential funding opportunities for environmental projects in Environmental Justice impacted areas? See below for more details:


PENNVEST serves communities and citizens of Pennsylvania by funding sewer, storm water and drinking water projects throughout the Commonwealth through low cost financial assistance. These efforts help clean rivers and streams in communities for the enjoyment of our citizens and the protection of our natural resources. For more information on PENNVEST resources check out the funding programs, or contacts by region

Commonwealth Workforce Transformation Program

The Commonwealth Workforce Transformation Program (CWTP) is the first program of its kind in the nation and will expand Pennsylvania’s workforce, create opportunity, accelerate infrastructure projects, and grow the economy. The program allows organizations doing work funded by the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA) or the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to receive up to $40,000 for each new worker they train on the job, with a maximum award of $400,000 per project. This amount can include the cost of supportive services, such as transportation and childcare, which are eligible expenses under the program. Additionally, the CWTP aims to break down barriers for historically marginalized communities by tailoring eligibility criteria for workers hired into the program to include those who: received SNAP, WIC, TANF, or other public assistance; are released from incarceration, are serving a sentence of probation, or are a juvenile justice system involved youth; are enrolled in a registered apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship program; are a customer of PA CareerLink® in WIOA Title I, II, or IV programs, are eligible for services through the Disabled Veteran Outreach Program, are receiving Unemployment Compensation; or has a community college or trade school certification or a high school or high school equivalency credential. 

Climate Pollution Reduction Grants

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is seeking public input on its Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) Plan to combat damaging climate pollution. The CPRG Program will use funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide grants to local governments implementing projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air co-pollutants. DEP will host community engagement sessions around the state beginning in fall 2023 and continue through the end of the CPRG Planning Phase in 2027. Questions, suggestions, and inquiries can be sent to:

Department of Energy Announces Methane Emissions Reduction Program 

The Methane Emissions Reduction Program (MERP) provides financial and technical assistance to monitor and reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and for environmental restoration of well sites. Through this combination of technical and financial assistance, the U.S. Department of Energy and the EPA will support projects that help reduce inefficiencies of U.S. oil and gas operations, create new jobs in energy communities, and realize near-term emission reductions.

EPA Avails $2 Billion for Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants Program

The EPA recently announced that it will provide grants to community-based nonprofit organizations (CBOs), including those in partnership with local governments, tribes, or institutions of higher education, for projects that deploy clean energy, strengthen climate resilience, and build capacity for communities to tackle environmental and climate justice challenges. The Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grant Program offers $2 billion in grants for community-driven projects that address climate challenges and reduce pollution. Note that EPA is also providing technical assistance to design and carry out a project (see below for details).

The Community Change Grants will support comprehensive community and place-based approaches to redressing environmental and climate injustices for communities facing legacy pollution, climate change, and persistent disinvestment. These local investments will fund community-driven, change-making projects that center collaborative efforts for healthier, safer, and more prosperous communities.
  • Provide resources for community-driven projects to address environmental and climate challenges in communities facing disproportionate and adverse health, pollution, and environmental impacts, and suffering from generations of disinvestment.
  • Invest in strong cross-sectoral collaborations with partners who bring a robust commitment to working with, and for communities with environmental and climate justice concerns.
  • Unlock access to additional and more significant resources to advance environmental and climate justice goals from across the federal government and other sources.
  • Empower communities and strengthen their capacity to drive meaningful positive change on the ground for years to come.
  • Strengthen community participation in government decision-making processes that impact them.
Award ceiling: two tracks of funding
  • Track I: funds 150 large transformational community driven grants of $10-$20 million
  • Track II: Funds 20 meaningful engagement grants of $1-$3 million
Eligible Applicants
  • A partnership between two community-based non-profit organizations (CBOs). 
  • A partnership between a CBO and one of the following: 
    • Federally Recognized Tribe
    • Local government
Technical Assistance: 
EPA received $200 million for technical assistance to eligible entities in connection with the ECJP. Technical assistance will be available for pre-award technical assistance including but not limited to designing a project, preparing an application, or facilitating partnerships, and for post-award technical assistance to help grant recipients manage, oversee, perform, and report on the grants. Receiving technical assistance does not guarantee that applicants will be selected for funding.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through November 21, 2024; additional information can be found here.


RGGI Regulations Updates

In November, two Commonwealth Court rulings determined that former Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s attempt to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) was an overstep in executive power. The key issue being whether this policy put in place by the prior administration constitutes a tax or a fee. In simpler terms, it looked like DEP was imposing a tax which was deemed by the courts as an overreach of DEP’s authority into legislature purview. Advocates and opponents of RGGI will continue to navigate next steps as the case undergoes an appeal process.

EPA Seeks to Address Elevated Concerns About Trichloroethylene Use

The EPA has determined that Trichloroethylene (TCE) presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health due to the significant adverse health effects associated with exposure to TCE. This includes non-cancer effects (liver toxicity, kidney toxicity, neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, and developmental toxicity) as well as cancer (liver, kidney, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma) from long-term inhalation and skin exposures to TCE. EPA's November 2020 Risk Evaluation for TCE and January 2023 revised risk determination for TCE pursuant to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) support these elevated concerns.
TCE is a neurotoxicant and is carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure. The most sensitive adverse effects of TCE exposure are non-cancer effects (developmental toxicity and immunosuppression) for acute exposures and developmental toxicity and autoimmunity for chronic exposures. To address the identified unreasonable risk, EPA is proposing to: prohibit all manufacturing (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce of TCE and industrial and commercial use of TCE for all uses, with longer compliance timeframes and workplace controls for certain processing and industrial and commercial uses (including proposed phaseouts and time-limited exemptions); prohibit the disposal of TCE to industrial pre-treatment, industrial treatment, or publicly owned treatment works, with a time-limited exemption for cleanup projects; and establish recordkeeping and downstream notification requirements.

Swarts and Hunters Cave Well Replacement Project: Notice of Schedule for the Preparation of An Environmental Assessment by Equitrans

Equitrans proposes to abandon, construct, and operate certain facilities within the Swarts Complex and Hunters Cave Storage Fields in Greene County, Pennsylvania. According to Equitrans, the Swarts and Hunters Cave Well Replacement Project is necessary because of planned mining activity from CONSOL Pennsylvania Coal Company LLC (CONSOL). According to Pennsylvania state law, any active storage well within 2,000 feet of mining activities would need to be plugged or upgraded to current mining standards. The Swarts and Hunters Cave Well Replacement Project would consist of the following:
  • Abandonment by-sale of a series of 19 injection/withdrawal wells at Equitrans' Hunters Cave Storage Field, abandonment in-place of the associated well pipelines and any associated facilities
  • Construction and operation of a new horizontal well, associated pipelines, and ancillary facilities at the Hunters Cave Storage Field
  • Construction and operation of a new horizontal well, associated pipelines, and ancillary facilities at the Swarts Complex
  • Expansions of the existing Morris Interconnect and Pierce Gates Valve Yards at the Hunters Cave Storage Field
  • Acquisition of non-jurisdictional gathering assets from EQM Gathering Opco, LLC (pipelines and related equipment) for operation of the new Swarts Horizontal Storage Well
  • The sale of 580 million cubic feet of base gas from the Swarts Complex.
In order to receive notification of the issuance of the EA and to keep track of formal issuances and submittals in specific dockets, the Commission offers a free service called eSubscription. This service provides automatic notification of filings made to subscribed dockets, document summaries, and direct links to the documents.  

The Commission's Office of Public Participation (OPP) supports meaningful public engagement and participation in Commission proceedings. OPP can help members of the public, including landowners, environmental justice communities, Tribal members and others, access publicly available information and navigate Commission processes. For public inquiries and assistance with making filings such as interventions, comments, or requests for rehearing, the public is encouraged to contact OPP at (202) 502–6595 or

Public comments are due in Washington, DC by 5pm EST on January 8, 2024. You can file your comments electronically using the eComment feature via the FERC Online web application. You can file a paper copy of your comments by mailing them to the Commission. Be sure to reference the project docket number (CP23-507-000) on your letter. Submissions sent via the U.S. Postal Service must be addressed to: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NW, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426. Submissions sent via any other carrier must be addressed to: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 12225 Wilkins Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20852.

EPA Seeks Input on Draft Policy for Public Participation in Agency Decision-Making Processes

The EPA recently announced the release of the draft policy, Achieving Health and Environmental Protection Through EPA’s Meaningful Involvement Policy, that outlines updates on how the EPA will engage with the public and provide meaningful public involvement in all of its programs and regions. This policy is grounded in the acknowledgment that EPA's actions further strengthen health and environmental protections when they are informed by individuals with lived experience.

This draft policy updates EPA’s 2003 Public Involvement Policy, and incorporates lessons learned over the past twenty years as it has worked to promote an agency-wide approach to providing meaningful involvement opportunities. EPA will apply the draft policy to all national program and regional actions that may benefit from public input. The draft policy describes 3 steps for meaningful involvement:
  • Identifying the decision(s) in an EPA action that may be influenced by public input
  • Using the public participation spectrum
  • Using the public participation model
Tribes may request consultation regarding this policy by January 5, 2024, by visiting EPA’s Tribal Consultation Tracking Opportunities System (TCOTS) website. The draft policy will be available for a 60-day public comment period, ending on January 16, 2024. Questions and comments can be submitted via email (, contact form, or the draft policy docket: EPA-HQ-OEJECR-2023-0326.

Happy Holiday Season!

As we wrap up the calendar year, we’d like to thank you for your support and engagement to better serve Pennsylvanians across this Commonwealth to address environmental injustice via the Office of Environmental Justice. We sincerely wish you and your loved ones a joyous, safe, and love-filled holiday season, and look forward to continued engagement in the new year.


OEJ welcomes your suggestions or inquiries about our work, programs and/or policies. We also want to hear your ideas for newsletter topics/stories. Please contact us at
Special Deputy Secretary
Fernando Treviño
(717) 772-5633
Justin Dula
(484) 250-5820
Deputy Director
Andrea Fields
(717) 787-9375
Statewide Strategic Coordinator
Winnie Okello
(717) 772-5852
Special Projects Coordinator
Dong Yoon Kim
(484) 250-5639 
Eastern Regional Coordinator
Juan Serrat
(484) 250-5818
Eastern Regional Coordinator
Amani Reid
(717) 783-1086
Southcentral Regional Coordinator
Ariana Genna
(717) 783-8731
Northcentral Regional Coordinator
Jordi Comas
(570) 327-3656
Southwest Regional Coordinator
Amelia Benson
(412) 442-4190
Northwest Regional Coordinator
Elspeth Koehle
(814) 332-6101
Administrative Assistant
Jennifer McLuckie
(717) 772-5633
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 400 Market Street Harrisburg, PA 17101 
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