Overview - Environmental Justice Program
What is Environmental Justice?
Environmental Justice means that all people should be treated fairly under environmental laws regardless of race, ethnicity, culture or economic status and should receive equal shares of both environmental benefits and burdens. The Environmental Justice movement has grown in response to increasing evidence nationally and statewide indicating, for example, that low-income minority groups are often exposed to above-average amounts of environmental burdens. Industrial air pollution, lead paint, disposal facilities, pesticides and contaminated fish are just a few sources of such pollution.
According to section 22a-20a of the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS), facilities that are subject to certain environmental justice actions are known as "affecting facilities." Affecting facilities are defined as any facility that falls under at least one of the following categories:
(A) electric generating facility with a capacity of more than 10 megawatts;
(B) sludge or solid waste incinerator or combustor;
(C) sewage treatment plant with a capacity of more than 50 million gallons per day;
(D) intermediate processing center, volume reduction facility or multitown recycling facility with a combined monthly volume in excess of 25 tons;
(E) new or expanded landfill, including, but not limited to, a landfill that contains ash, construction and demolition debris or solid waste;
(F) medical waste incinerator; or
(G) major source of air pollution, as defined by the federal Clean Air Act.
In January 2023, of the 176 affecting facilities statewide,142 affecting facilities are located in Connecticut's Environmental Justice communities. The cities of Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, and Waterbury have the highest counts of affecting facilities of all Environmental Justice communities and collectively account for almost a quarter (23%) of all affecting facilities in Connecticut. These four cities share a large burden of potential health risks from affecting facilities.
These cities also have some of the highest rates of historically vulnerable populations. Data from the United States Census Bureau's American Community Survey 2020 5-Year Estimate lists estimated counts of minority and low-income populations. In comparison with all 169 towns in the state, Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven have the highest concentrations of minority populations (see the table below). Hartford has the largest low-income population in the state (51.1%), with more than half of all residents living at 200% or less of the federal poverty level.
Throughout Connecticut, 22.3% of the entire population is low-income, and 34% is minority population. Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, and Waterbury collectively make up about one third of the total minority population (31.3%) and the total low-income population (29.9%) in the state.
The table below shows municipalities that contain five or more affecting facilities. CGS section 221-20a states that, for any application for an affecting facility that constitutes a new or expanded permit, and that is located or proposed to be located in an Environmental Justice community, the applicant shall enter into a Community Environmental Benefit Agreement (CEBA) with the municipality if there are five or more affecting facilities in such municipality at the time the application is filed.
|Name||EJ Status||Number of Affecting Facilities||Percent Minority||Percent of Low-Income Population (200% Federal Poverty Level)|
|New Haven||Contains EJ communities||12||70.9||48.6|
|Bridgeport||Contains EJ communities||8||80.7||45.4|
|Hartford||Contains EJ communities||7||85.1||51.1|
|Waterbury||Contains EJ communities||6||61.1||44.1|
|Middletown||Contains EJ communities||5||33.2||24.2|
|Danbury||Contains EJ communities||5||47.9||27.3|
|Stratford||Contains EJ communities||5||42.6||18.3|
|Southington||Contains EJ communities||5||11.1||12.1|
|Wallingford||Contains EJ communities||5||19.2||13.0|
Demographic data from the United States Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) Five-Year Estimates (2016-2020). See DEEP's Environmental Justice Affecting Facilities Map and CT Demographics & Affecting Facilities Map for more details.
CT DEEP created the Environmental Justice Program in light of these facts and because of our commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all residents.
What does DEEP's Environmental Justice Program Do?The Environmental Justice Program incorporates principles of environmental justice into aspects of DEEP's program development, policy making, and regulatory activities, including but not limited to:
assessing the effectiveness of DEEP's efforts in the state's urban areas;
assessing and responding to environmental problems in low-income and minority communities;
developing strategies to increase public participation in DEEP's decision-making process;
identifying community health concerns in consultation with local and state departments of health;
enhancing public participation in administrative proceedings;
educating the public on DEEP regulations, policies and procedures; and
decreasing language barriers.
How can DEEP's Environmental Justice Program Assist You?
The Environmental Justice Program actively seeks ways to assist communities by responding to needs that they identify. Please share with us what needs to be done to protect and improve the environment in your community.
Examples of issues commonly raised by residents that the Program can assist you with include:
Illegal dumping/auto body shops - (To report illegal dumping, call your local public works department.)
Air pollution/demolition dust
Improper pesticide use
Lack of access to state parks