Environmental Justice Australia welcomes the Victorian Government’s announcement today of major reforms to the EPA and Victoria’s environment protection laws. EJA has long been calling for an overhaul of the EPA and its powers, saying that they are no longer adequate to fully protect the environment and the health of Victorian communities. The Government has announced it will act on a number of critical reforms, and will consider further reforms over the next year.
“Communities and the environment in many parts of Victoria are exposed to unsafe and unhealthy levels of pollution, with an inadequate response from the EPA. In part this is due to Victoria’s antiquated pollution laws,” stated Nicola Rivers, Director of Advocacy and Research at Environmental Justice Australia.
“It is critical the EPA’s powers are updated to protect the environment and communities, to give communities the right to know what they are being exposed to, and to allow them to take legal action to stop pollution from occurring.”
“We look forward to working with the Government to ensure these laws achieve environmental justice for communities and the environment.”
Environmental Justice Australia has identified critical elements of the reform to be:
- A substantial increase in funding for the EPA to allow it to effectively and efficiently regulate polluting industries, monitor impacts on the environment and communities and take legal action against polluters when breaches occur.
- A clear duty on industry and others not to pollute the environment which can be effectively enforced by the EPA.
- A right for the community to take enforcement action against polluters who have breached the law if the EPA won’t.
- Improved monitoring of pollution, with all EPA and industry monitoring data publicly available.
- Clear actions to support the communities that bear an unfair burden from Victoria’s pollution, to achieve environmental justice.