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Diverse Organizations Across the Country Mobilize in Support of the Environmental Justice for All Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

28 organizations today joined Coming Clean and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform in expressing strong support for the Environmental Justice for All Act (H.R. 2021), sponsored by Representatives Raúl Grijalva and Donald McEachin. In a letter, they urged the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee to “advance this important legislation quickly to begin remedying the long history of environmental racism and injustice, and cumulative and disproportionate health and environmental impacts, that affects communities across the country.” 

 

The organizations writing in support of the Environmental Justice for All Act represent diverse communities spanning the United States, many of whom face disproportionate and cumulative chemical hazards as the result of discriminatory practices and policies. 

 

“The Winston Weaver fertilizer plant in Winston Salem, NC recently endangered the health and livelihoods of our organizational partners, friends, and loved ones,” said Connor Kippe, Policy Advocate for Toxic Free NC. “The siting and lax regulation of such dangerous chemical facilities disproportionately impacts the lives of some of our nation's most marginalized communities. We know how to prevent these disproportionate risks and health effects, and  how to begin to take a step towards a more toxic free future for all - pass this bill.”

 

“Many Texas communities are being treated as sacrifice zones and people's health is harmed on a daily basis,” said Robin Schneider, Executive Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment. “No community should be treated as disposable.”

 

“For more than 35 years, East Austin residents had lived next to several bulk fuel storage tank facilities (“Tank Farm) that devastated the land and our community,” said Susana Almanza, Executive Director of PODER. “The Environmental Justice for All Act is a long overdue correction to our nation’s failed chemical management policies, and the cumulative hazards and disproportionate harms that have resulted for communities of color, low-income communities, and Native/Indigenous communities.”

 

“The Environmental Justice for All Act is vital to communities in West Virginia, who have long been adversely affected by chemical manufacturing and petrochemical industries,” said Kathy Ferguson, Interim Executive Director of Our Future WV. “Communities from around the state have endured toxic chemical explosions and leaks into our air, hazardous runoff from coal mining and fracking into our waterways, faulty corrosive tanks that led to a critical contamination of our water supply, grounds filled with contaminants like fly ash and other seeping poisons.  These occurrences are on top of the steady drip of routine hazardous emissions and 'allowable' pollution.  Sadly, all of this has occurred without appropriate redress such that It is perhaps not coincidental, that West Virginia has continued to rank amongst the lowest with regard to poor health outcomes for decades.” 

 

“South Baltimore is home to a coal terminal that exploded late last year, a medical waste incinerator, a trash incinerator, a major interstate highway, a rendering plant, various chemical factories, a sewage treatment plant, and the city’s Landfill site,” said Dave Arndt, Director of the Locust Point Community Garden. “These facilities are mostly in compliance with the air pollution laws and permits, but the Baltimore region ranks among the worst in the U.S. for air pollution. Something is wrong here; residents are dying and everything is in compliance."

 

“We need legislation that is inclusive and prioritizes Environmental Justice communities,” said Beto Lugo of CleanAirNowKC. 

 

“Racial, social and economic equity must be embedded in solutions to climate change as a public health crisis,” said Kathleen Schuler, MPH, Policy Director of Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate. “This bill takes steps to remedy some of the underlying disparities that place communities of color at higher risk for impacts from climate change and will contribute to building climate resilient and healthy communities."

 

“This bill would begin to right the wrongs suffered by the vast majority of the nation's two million farmworkers upon whom we all depend to feed our families,” said Margaret Reeves, Senior Scientist of Pesticide Action Network. “Systematically denied voice and agency, these hardworking men and women suffer disproportionate impacts from the indiscriminate use of hazardous pesticides ranging from acute poisonings and job loss, to cancers, reproductive harms and severe learning disabilities among their children. It's high time to right that wrong.

 

“Women’s Voices for the Earth, an environmental health organization representing tens of thousands of people across the nation, strongly supports the Environmental Justice for All Act,” said Jamie McConnell, Executive Director. “For too long, people of color and low-income communities have suffered the disproportionate impacts of pollution.”

 

Passing the Environmental Justice for All Act would mark an “ important step toward remedying a long legacy of harm, and ensuring the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people - regardless of color, culture, national origin, or income - with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of health and environmental laws, regulations, and policies,” reads the letter. These urgently needed policy improvements include:

 

  • Requiring federal agencies to consider cumulative health impacts under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act in making permitting decisions, and ensuring that permits will not be issued if projects cannot demonstrate a reasonable certainty of no harm to human health;
  • Providing $75 million in annual grants for research and program development to reduce health disparities; and improve public health in environmental justice communities;
  • Strengthening the Civil Rights Act to permit private citizens and organizations facing discrimination to seek legal remedies;
  • Creating an energy transition economic development assistance fund – paid for through new fees on oil, gas and coal companies – to support communities and workers as they transition away from greenhouse gas-dependent economies;
  • Strengthening the National Environmental Policy Act to ensure that communities have a meaningful opportunity to engage in NEPA processes that will impact them.

 

The Natural Resources Committee held a  Remote Full Committee Legislative Hearing on Environmental Justice earlier today. 

 

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