The Environmental Justice Health Alliance Commends Senator Booker's New Bill to Address Environmental Injustices
Statement: The Environmental Justice Health Alliance Commends Senator Booker's New Bill to Address Environmental Injustices
Newark, NJ — Senator Cory Booker was joined by Michele Roberts, National Co-Coordinator of the Environmental Justice Health Alliance (EJHA), to introduce new legislation seeking to address some environmental injustices communities across the nation face. 'Environmental justice communities', often composed predominantly of people of color and the poor, suffer disproportionate levels of environmental pollution and its resulting health impacts.
The Environmental Justice Act of 2017 seeks to improve environmental justice through the following provisions:
- Requiring the consideration of cumulative impacts resulting from multiple, overlapping pollution sources in Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act permitting decisions,
- Requiring the consideration of a facility's violation history during permitting decisions,
- Clarifying that communities impacted by environmental pollution may bring statutory and common law claims for damages,
- Protecting Executive Order 12898 by codifying it into law, which directs federal agencies to consider impacts on minority and low-income communities resulting from federal actions, and improves the order by expanding public access to information and participation.
- And other provisions seeking to improve environmental justice for people across the nation.
In response to the introduction of Senator Booker's legislation, partners of EJHA made the following statements:
Michele Roberts, Co-Coordinator of the Environment Justice Health Alliance, said "We truly appreciate Senator Booker's attention to the environmental injustices some Americans suffer on a daily basis. This bill, which seeks to protect those among us who face disproportionate harms related to toxic chemical contamination, was the result of a just process--which included input from dozens of grassroots, environmental justice organizations from communities across the nation. To those Americans who live downwind of chemical facilities and polluting industries, this effort is a breath of fresh air."
Octavia Dryden, with Delaware Concerned Residents for Environmental Justice, said “People living in the Southbridge neighborhood of Wilmington, Delaware, wake up every day within a mile of 48 brownfield sites, 4 Superfund sites, 13 facilities listed in the Toxic Release Inventory, the Port of Wilmington, multiple dumps, and 2 facilities which may at any moment destroy the community through the release of poisonous gas or a catastrophic explosion. Many environmental justice communities are absolutely surrounded by hazards and inundated with industrial pollution, but it's shocking to know that our federal agencies have been missing the forest for the trees; they often treat each facility as if it's the only polluter in the area. While Senator Booker's bill is an excellent first step, we strongly encourage Congress to provide the much needed and long overdue protections our communities deserve.”
Dr. Henry Clark, Executive Director of West County Toxics Coalition, said "Californians were once again reminded on Tuesday that too many of us live right next to polluting and dangerous industrial facilities when Chevron's El Segundo refinery exploded and caught fire--causing officials to warn nearby residents to shelter in place and somehow avoid breathing the air. These conditions are unacceptable to those living fence-line to chemical facilities, and research has shown these communities are often predominantly Black, Brown or poor. Senator Booker's Environmental Justice Act is a great push toward understanding and addressing the threats we face--and Congress should pass it without delay--but Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt should also support safer industrial chemicals and processes so we might be able to sleep at night without worry of being poisoned or blown to smithereens."
Research organized by EJHA describing the challenges environmental justice communities face and the demographics of those living near hazardous chemical facilities can be found in the following reports:
- Environmental Justice for Delaware: Mitigating Toxic Pollution in New Castle County Communities
- Living in the Shadow of Danger: Poverty, Race, and Unequal Chemical Facility Hazards
- Who's In Danger: A Demographic Analysis of Chemical Disaster Vulnerability Zones
The Environmental Justice Health Alliance (EJHA) organizes industry reform strategies for safer chemicals and clean energy that leave no community or worker behind. Learn more at http://ej4all.org/