MPCA and environmental justice

All Minnesotans deserve to live in conditions that support a healthy and fulfilling life.  One important part of this is living in an environment with clean air, clean water and unpolluted land. Working to achieve this is at the heart of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s mission to protect and improve our environment and human health.

The MPCA is committed to making sure that pollution does not have a disproportionate impact on any group of people — the principle of environmental justice.  This means that all people — regardless of their race, color, national origin or income — benefit from equal levels of environmental protection and have opportunities to participate in decisions that may affect their environment or health. 

MPCA’s environmental justice policy

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will, within its authority, strive for the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Fair treatment means that no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental, and commercial operations or policies.

Meaningful involvement means that

  • People have an opportunity to participate in decisions about activities that may affect their environment and/or health;
  • The public’s contribution can influence the regulatory agency’s decision;
  • Their concerns will be considered in the decision making process; and
  • The decision makers seek out and facilitate the involvement of those potentially affected

The above concept is embraced as the understanding of environmental justice by the MPCA

MPCA's Environmental Justice Framework

Our vision, strategies, and implementation actions for integrating environmental justice principles into our work.

This framework represents our commitment to act using our expertise, relationships, and resources to focus our work where it will have the greatest effect in reducing the impact of environmental pollution.  It provides direction and guidance to modify our practices and integrate environmental justice principles into our work over the next three years.  In collaboration with others, we expect to build on this initial framework and continually look for ways to improve our implementation of its strategies. Please join us as we strive for a better Minnesota.

Environmental Justice Framework Implementation Report

The MPCA completed its environmental justice framework in 2015. It represents our vision and strategies for embedding environmental justice principles into our work over a three to four year period. As part of our commitment to improving our work and making a difference, the MPCA pledged to prepare an annual report during initial implementation of the framework. This is the first report and covers work in 2015 and 2016.

Minnesota Areas of Environmental Justice Concern 

This interactive Story Map shows areas of environmental justice concern in Minnesota. The MPCA uses the US Census tract as the geographic unit to identify these areas. The Agency considers a census tract to be an area of concern for environmental justice if it meets one or both of these demographic criteria:

  • The number of people of color is greater than 50%; or
  • More than 40% of the households have a household income of less than 185% of the federal poverty level

Additionally, the MPCA considers communities within Tribal boundaries as areas of concern. This is an initial first step to identify areas where additional consideration or effort is needed to evaluate the potential for disproportionate adverse impacts, to consider ways to reduce those impacts, and to ensure meaningful community engagement as described in MPCA's PDF icon Environmental Justice Framework.

Policy, notice, and procedures

Tribal relations

Recognizing and supporting the unique status of Minnesota Tribal Nations, and to facilitate meaningful and timely consultation between the MPCA and Tribes, the MPCA maintains a policy on tribal consultation as well as guidance on air and water permit consultation with Tribal Nations.

Tribal contacts

MPCA staff assist the agency's Tribal Liaison with maintaining current information on tribal contacts for receiving air and water permit notices (per the established MPCA Guidance on Air Quality Permit Consultation with Indian Tribal Governments).

Who to call

Sign up for our Environmental Justice Issues newsletter on GovDelivery or contact Ned Brooks, MPCA’s Environmental Justice Coordinator at 651-757-2557 or ned.brooks@state.mn.us

Other resources

Environmental justice advocacy organizations

MPCA staff work to establish and maintain relationships with organizations and community groups. If you wish to be added or removed from the list, please send your request to the listed MPCA environmental justice contact.

The following environmental organizations are involved in environmental equity:

MPCA

  • What’s in My Neighborhood? is a Web-based mapping and text-based search tools containing information on soil and groundwater contamination sites within the state; includes properties that have been investigated and cleaned up as well as properties that are currently enrolled in MPCA cleanup programs.
  • Air Emissions Risk Analysis (AERA)

Minnesota Department of Health

HTML icon Risk assessment (MDH)

Contains information on the human health effects of exposures to hazardous chemicals and other substances, including information on air and groundwater contaminants, risks in homes and schools, fish advisories, and children’s environmental health. Provides information on ways to prevent and reduce exposures to environmental health hazards.

State Demographic Center

HTML icon Minnesota State Demographic Center within the state Department of Administration analyzes and distributes data from state, Census Bureau, and other sources.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

HTML icon Environmental justice (U.S. EPA)

The Environmental Protection Agency supports the principles of environmental justice: the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

HTML icon EJSCREEN (U.S. EPA)

Uses high-resolution maps combined with demographic and environmental data to identify places with potentially higher environmental burdens and vulnerable populations. EJSCREEN's color-coded maps, bar charts, and reports enable users to better understand areas in need of increased environmental protection, health care access, housing, infrastructure improvement, community revitalization, and climate resilience.

Binary Data EnviroMapper for Envirofacts (U.S. EPA)

A powerful tool used to map various types of environmental information, including air releases, drinking water, toxic releases, hazardous wastes, water discharge permits, and Superfund sites. Users can select a geographic area within EnviroMapper and view the different facilities that are present within that area. EnviroMapper can be used to create maps at the national, state, and county levels, and link them to environmental text reports. Users can even insert dynamically created maps in their own Web pages.

HTML icon MyEnvironment search (U.S. EPA)

Application provides a cross-section of environmental information based on the user's location.

HTML icon NATA | National Air Toxics Assessment (U.S. EPA)

U.S. EPA's ongoing comprehensive evaluation of air toxics. The NATA was developed as a state-of-the-science screening tool to help prioritize pollutants, emission sources and locations of interest for further study in order to gain a better understanding of risks.