The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is holding a hearing on January 22, 2016 to review the environmental justice implications of EPA policies on coal ash disposal. The commission is conducting this review as part of its annual report on agencies’ progress implementing the Civil Rights Act. Rather than surveying the complete executive branch every year, commissioners instead focus on individual agencies’ civil rights practices. This year, the examination of EPA will begin with its coal ash disposal policies, though the commission says its initial hearing will also consider broader issues.

Commissioners and panelists will have the opportunity to discuss a variety of issues including:

  • How to reduce the backlog of Title VI complaints under the Civil Rights Act;
  • What more can be done to address the placement of coal ash impoundment sites and landfills in areas with primarily minority and low income residents; and
  • What can be done to prevent such placements in the future.

The briefing will also address EPA’s first coal ash rule finalized in the spring of 2015. The briefing will take place in D.C., but members of the public can call in to listen: 888-452-4023; conference ID #1453101. Members of the public can submit written comments to the commission within 30 days after the briefing.

The Commission will also hold an Illinois-specific meeting at 1 p.m. CST on January 22, 2016. The meeting will be held via conference call through the following toll-free call-in number: 888-481-2844, conference ID #2949512. The Commission will review and discuss approval of a proposal to study civil rights and environmental justice in Illinois as it relates to coal ash disposal in minority communities. Within 30 days following the meeting, members of the public can submit written comments to Regional Programs Unit, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 55 W. Monroe St., Suite 410, Chicago, IL 60615.  They may also be faxed to the Commission at 312-353-8324, or emailed to Carolyn Allen at callen@usccr.gov.