EPA Hires Olivia Glenn to Lead Environmental Justice Efforts in U.S. Virgin Islands, Other Region 2 Jurisdictions

Environment Published On April 01, 2022 06:01 AM
Staff Consortium | April 01, 2022 06:01:50 AM

The Limetree Bay Refinery on St. Croix. By ERNICE GILBERT/ V.I. CONSORTIUM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that Olivia C. Glenn will join EPA as senior advisor for equity and chief of staff to EPA’s Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. According to the EPA, Ms. Glenn will be helping to guide EPA Region 2’s efforts to embed environmental justice and diversity goals into all of its work and will serve as all-around chief of staff. She most recently served as Deputy Commissioner of Environmental Justice and Equity for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. 

EPA Region 2 includes  New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The federal agency defines environmental justice as "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."

“I am so delighted to have Olivia join me at EPA to help guide and support the talented team here at EPA Region 2 as we all work toward a healthy environment for everyone – with a focus on improving quality of life for communities that are underserved and often overburdened with pollution,” said Ms. Garcia. “Olivia brings with her a wealth of experience and a proven track record of advancing EJ principles in governmental policies and programs.”

A longtime advocate of ensuring underserved communities have access to the outdoors, Ms. Glenn believes all people have a right to experience and enjoy the benefits of nature, the EPA said.

“This is a time when environmental justice and equity issues are among those at the forefront of the nation’s priorities,” said Ms. Glenn. “It is such a privilege to join EPA’s Region 2 as Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor for Equity, ensuring the furtherance of this critical work with our communities and tiers of government in support of Administrator Regan and the Biden-Harris Administration. I look forward to working alongside the knowledgeable and passionate team in Region 2, following the lead of Regional Administrator Garcia to advance equity as an agency-wide imperative.” 

The EPA just over a week ago sent a letter to West Indies Petroleum Limited and Port Hamilton Refining and Transportation — the new owners of the former Limetree Bay refinery on St. Croix — informing them that based on the information currently available to EPA, there are strong indicators to suggest that the refinery must obtain a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit prior to any potential startup of refinery operations.

In the letter, seen here, EPA asks for additional information regarding past and future changes to processes and emission units at the refinery. The information will enable the EPA to evaluate this issue further, before making a final determination regarding the need for a PSD permit, the agency said.

“As EPA continues to obtain additional information to reach a final decision on the need for this particular permit, we remain committed to ensuring that any potential restart of this facility would occur safely and in accordance with environmental laws,” said Ms. Garcia. “Given the concerning incidents at this facility that previously endangered the health of the people who live and work in surrounding communities, we will carefully review the information we receive and any new plans before determining our next steps in the permitting process.”

According to the EPA, a PSD permit applies to new major air pollution sources or major modifications at existing sources that result in an increase of certain pollutant emissions (for example, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, or nitrogen oxide) where the area in which the source is located attains or meets EPA’s national air quality health standards. In its letter, EPA poses a series of questions to the new owners, seeking answers that will help determine whether the refinery needs to obtain a PSD permit. 

The EPA said Ms. Glenn previously led the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry, appointed in 2018 as its director and managing its 450,000 acres of natural and historic resources. From 2003 to 2009, she worked as the Division’s Urban Initiatives and Outreach Coordinator and subsequently served as special assistant to the DEP Deputy Commissioner. Olivia later was a member of the DEP’s Environmental Justice Advisory Council, leading its efforts in outreach, education and land management.

She also has worked with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, making outdoor spaces and trails more readily available to Greater Philadelphia residents, especially people living in Camden, according to the EPA. In 2018, the Camden Collaborative Initiative honored her with the Camden Environmental Hero Award. As an NJDEP Deputy Commissioner, Olivia was responsible for advancing state environmental justice and diversity, equity and inclusion goals.

EPA expects that Ms. Glenn will begin in her post at EPA on April 18.

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