A 1994 Executive Order sought to ensure that minority and low-income populations are not subjected to disproportionately high levels of environmental risk. Studies have shown that these groups are indeed disproportionately exposed to air pollution and other environmental and health problems. The Order sought to address the problem by requiring EPA and other federal agencies to make achieving environmental justice part of their missions. In July 2005, GAO issued a report entitled, Environmental Justice: EPA Should Devote More Attention to Environmental Justice When Developing Clean Air Rules (GAO-05-289). Focusing on three specific rules for detailed study, the report identified a number of weaknesses in EPA's approach to ensuring that environmental justice is considered from the early stages of rule development through their issuance. The report made several recommendations, to which EPA replied in an August 24, 2006 letter. GAO also met recently with cognizant EPA staff to obtain updated information on the agency's responses to these recommendations. In this testimony, GAO (1) summarizes the key findings of its 2005 report, (2) outlines its recommendations to EPA and EPA's August 2006 responses, and (3) provides updated information on subsequent EPA actions.
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