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April 01, 2017

Environmental regulators coming to Philly, Chester for 'listening' tour

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection seeking public feedback

Environment Communities
Schuylkill River Park Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The Schuylkill River Trail runs along the eastern banks of the Schuylkill River as it passes through Philadelphia.

State regulators will be in the Philadelphia area later in May to hear residents' concerns regarding environmental justice.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell is scheduled to visit nine Pennsylvania cities and regions over the course of the next two months, including Chester on May 23 and Philadelphia on May 25.

The department wants to engage residents in areas that may not typically fall under the DEP's definition of an "environmental justice area," or, "any census tract where 20 percent or more individuals live in poverty, and/or 30 percent or more of the population is minority."

Much of Philadelphia and Chester already fall under this category, according to the department's mapping of the areas.

“We want to ensure that communities and regulated entities are connected and communicating," Carl Jones, director of DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice, said of the tour.

Among the tour's goals are improving the public feedback process and making sure communities are part of the decision-making process when it comes to regulating companies.

The locations for the Philadelphia and Chester listening sessions have yet to be determined.