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Notice of Proposed Rulemaking - Removal of Development Zone from Environmental Impact Screening Form Exemptions

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The Director of the Department of Energy and Environment (“DOEE” or “Department”), pursuant to the authority set forth in sections 5 and 6 of the District of Columbia Air Pollution Control Act of 1984 (the “Act”), effective March 15, 1985 (D.C. Law 5-165; D.C. Official Code §§ 8-101.05 and .06 (2013 Repl. & 2018 Supp.)); section 107(4) of the District Department of the Environment Establishment Act of 2005, effective February 15, 2006 (D.C. Law 16-51; D.C. Official Code § 8-151.07(4)); and Mayor’s Order 2006-61, dated June 14, 2006, hereby gives notice of the intent to amend Chapter 72 (Environmental Policy Act Regulations), of Title 20 (Environment) of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (“DCMR”) and to take final rulemaking action in no less than thirty (30) days from the date of publication of this notice in the District of Columbia Register.

The Department promotes the safety, health, and welfare of the public; protects the State’s natural environment; and seeks to ensure an equitable application of environmental laws and regulations in the District of Columbia. Currently, projects proposed within an Economic Development Zone as defined under D.C. Official Code § 6-1501, are exempt from the requirements to complete an Environmental Impact Screening Form (“EISF”). There are currently three (3) Economic Development Zones, which are located within, near, and around populations overburdened with environmental pollution, specifically air pollution.

In order to protect the populations in and around Economic Development Zones to the same extent as other areas of the District, the Department is proposing amendments to Chapter 72 of the air quality regulations. The Act provided the Mayor with general authority to regulate air quality in the District and has been subsequently updated to clarify the Mayor’s regulatory and enforcement authorities. Specifically, the Department is proposing to repeal 20 DCMR § 7202.2(l), which exempts actions within Economic Development Zones from the requirement for submission of an EISF. This rulemaking will further align the District’s regulations with its stated goals related to the environment and equity by removing the Economic Development Zone exemption, thereby requiring new projects in the Economic Development Zones to be subject to an environmental impact screening before construction begins. This will ensure that potential environmental impacts of these projects, such as potential impacts on air quality and water quality, the presence of contaminants and need for cleanup, impacts on wetlands, and so on, are considered as part of the development process. Evaluating potential impacts is particularly important for equity considerations, as economic development zones are meant to bring development to area within the District of Columbia in which exists pervasive poverty, unemployment, or general economic distress areas that have historically suffered the most significant adverse environmental impacts.

Chapter 72, ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT REGULATIONS, of Title 20 DCMR, ENVIRONMENT, is amended as follows:

Section 7202 ACTIONS FOR WHICH NO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT SCREENING FORM IS REQUIRED is amended as follows:

Subsection 7202.2(l) is repealed.

All persons desiring to comment on the proposed rulemaking should file comments in writing not later than thirty (30) days after publication of this notice in the District of Columbia Register. Comments should be clearly marked “Public Comments: Proposed Removal of Development Zones from EISF Exemptions” and filed with DOEE, Air Quality Division, 1200 First Street, N.E., 5th Floor, Washington, DC 20002, Attention: Joseph Jakuta, or e-mailed to [email protected]. Copies of the above documents may be obtained from DOEE at the same address.