< Back to H.R. 2845 (104th Congress, 1995–1996)

Text of the Environmental Equal Rights Act of 1995

This bill was introduced on January 4, 1996, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Jan 4, 1996 (Introduced).

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HR 2845 IH

104th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 2845

To amend the Solid Waste Disposal Act to allow petitions to be submitted to prevent certain waste facilities from being constructed in environmentally disadvantaged communities.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

January 4, 1996

Mrs. COLLINS of Illinois introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Commerce


A BILL

To amend the Solid Waste Disposal Act to allow petitions to be submitted to prevent certain waste facilities from being constructed in environmentally disadvantaged communities.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Environmental Equal Rights Act of 1995’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The Congress finds the following:

      (1) A 1987 study by the United Church of Christ found that the proportion of minorities in communities with large commercial landfills or a high number of commercial waste facilities was three times greater than in communities without such facilities.

      (2) The same United Church of Christ study found that approximately 60 percent of African- and Hispanic-Americans live in a community that has an uncontrolled hazardous waste site.

      (3) An Environmental Protection Agency report released in 1992 found that racial minority and low-income populations experience higher than average exposures to selected air pollutants and hazardous waste facilities.

      (4) A 1983 analysis by the General Accounting Office found that, in the southeastern United States, three of the four commercial hazardous waste landfills were located in communities with more blacks than whites, and the percentage of residents near the sites with incomes below the poverty line ranged from 26 percent to 42 percent.

      (5) A University of Michigan study released in 1990 found that minorities were four times more likely than whites to live within one mile of a commercial hazardous waste facility in the three-county Detroit metropolitan area.

      (6) A National Law Journal study found that penalties imposed for pollution law violations in areas predominantly populated by minorities were dramatically lower than those imposed for violations in largely white areas.

SEC. 3. PETITION RELATING TO ENVIRONMENTALLY DISADVANTAGED COMMUNITIES.

    (a) AMENDMENT TO SUBTITLE G- Subtitle G of the Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. 6971 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

‘SEC. 7011. PETITION RELATING TO ENVIRONMENTALLY DISADVANTAGED COMMUNITIES.

    ‘(a) RIGHT TO PETITION- (1) Any individual residing in an environmentally disadvantaged community in which a new facility for the management of solid waste (including a new facility for the management of hazardous waste) is proposed to be constructed may submit a petition to the appropriate entity (described in paragraph (2)) to prevent the proposed facility from being issued a permit to be constructed or to operate in that community.

    ‘(2) A petition under paragraph (1) shall be submitted in accordance with the following subparagraphs:

      ‘(A) In the case of a facility for the management of hazardous waste, the petition shall be submitted to the Administrator or, in the case of a State with an authorized program under section 3006, to the State.

      ‘(B) In the case of a facility for the management of municipal solid waste, the petition shall be submitted to the Administrator or, in appropriate cases, as determined under regulations implementing this section, to the State.

    ‘(b) AGENCY HEARING- (1) Within a reasonable period of time after receipt of a petition under subsection (a), the Administrator or the State shall hold a public hearing on the petition. An administrative law judge of the Environmental Protection Agency or an equivalent employee of the State, in the case of a petition submitted to the State, shall preside at the hearing.

    ‘(2) Subject to paragraph (3), the administrative law judge or State employee shall approve the petition if, at the hearing, the petitioner establishes that--

      ‘(A) the proposed facility will be located in an environmentally disadvantaged community; and

      ‘(B) the proposed facility may adversely affect--

        ‘(i) the human health of such community or a portion of such community;

        ‘(ii) the air, soil, water, or other elements of the environment of such community or a portion of such community; or

        ‘(iii) the social and economic characteristics of such community or a portion of such community.

    ‘(3) After the petitioner has satisfied the requirement of paragraph (2), the administrative law judge or State employee shall deny the petition only if, at the hearing, the proponent of the proposed facility establishes that--

      ‘(A) there is no alternative location within the State for the proposed facility that poses fewer risks to human health and the environment than the proposed facility (according to standards for comparing the degree of risk to human health and the environment promulgated in regulations by the Administrator for purposes of this section); and

      ‘(B) the proposed facility--

        ‘(i) will not release contaminants; or

        ‘(ii) will not engage in any activity that is likely to increase the cumulative impact of contaminants on any residents of the environmentally disadvantaged community.

    ‘(c) ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS- (1) The submission of a petition under subsection (a) stays the issuance of a permit for the facility concerned until a decision on the petition has been rendered under subsection (b).

    ‘(2) If more than one petition relating to the same facility is submitted, the petitions may be consolidated by the appropriate official to promote the efficient resolution and disposition of the petitions.

    ‘(d) NOTICE TO PUBLIC- Within 30 days after receipt of a proposal for the construction of a new facility for the management of solid waste (including a new facility for the management of hazardous waste) in an environmentally disadvantaged community, and before issuance of a permit for such facility, the Administrator or the State in which the environmentally disadvantaged community is located shall notify persons residing in the environmentally disadvantaged community of their right to submit a petition under subsection (a). Such notice shall appear for a period of not less than five consecutive days in a newspaper of general circulation that serves the environmental disadvantaged community. The Administrator or the State shall provide such notice in writing by first class mail to any person who requests such information.

    ‘(e) DEFINITIONS- As used in this section:

      ‘(1) The term ‘environmentally disadvantaged community’ means an area within 2 miles of the borders of a site on which a facility for the management of solid waste (including a facility for the management of hazardous waste) is proposed to be constructed, within the same State as the proposed facility, and in which both of the following conditions are met, determined using the most recent data from the Bureau of the Census:

        ‘(A)(i) The percentage of the population consisting of all individuals who are of African, Hispanic, Asian, Native American Indian, Pacific Island, or Native Alaskan ancestry is greater than either--

          ‘(I) the percentage of the population in the State of all such individuals, or

          ‘(II) the percentage of the population in the United States of all such individuals; or

        ‘(ii)(I) twenty percent or more of the population consists of individuals who are living at or below the poverty line, or

        ‘(II) the area has a per capita income of 80 percent or less of the national average,

        for the most recent 12-month period for which statistics are available.

        ‘(B) The area contains one or more of the following:

          ‘(i) A facility for the management of hazardous waste that is in operation.

          ‘(ii) A facility for the management of hazardous waste that is no longer in operation but that formerly accepted hazardous waste.

          ‘(iii) A site at which a release or threatened release of hazardous substances (within the meaning of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980) has occurred.

          ‘(iv) A facility for the management of municipal solid waste.

          ‘(v) A facility whose owner or operator is required to submit a toxic chemical release form under section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986 (42 U.S.C. 11023), if the releases reported on such form are likely to adversely affect the human health of the community or portion of the community, as determined by the entity that would be appropriate under subsection (a)(2) if a petition were filed with respect to the facility.

      ‘(2) The term ‘management’, when used in connection with solid waste (including hazardous waste), means treatment, storage, disposal, combustion, recycling, or other handling of solid waste, but does not include any activities that take place in a materials recovery facility or any other facility that prepares, transfers, or utilizes nonhazardous recyclable materials for purposes other than energy recovery.

      ‘(3) The terms ‘release’ and ‘contaminant’ have the meanings prescribed by the Administrator for purposes of this section.’.

    (b) TABLE OF CONTENTS AMENDMENT- The table of contents for subtitle G of such Act is further amended by adding at the end the following new item:

      ‘Sec. 7011. Petition relating to environmentally disadvantaged communities.’