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July 27, 2022Environmental justice and health organizations urge House of Representatives to swiftly pass the Environmental Justice For All Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Coming Clean & The Environmental Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform

Press Contact: Deidre Nelms, dnelms@comingcleaninc.org, 802-251-0203 ext. 711 

Over 90 organizations 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), as it goes before the House Committee on Natural Resources for markup today, urging committee members to “advance this important legislation swiftly to a vote on the House floor.”

“The common sense solutions and long overdue policy fixes in this bill will begin to remedy the long history of environmental racism and injustice in communities around the country that have been forced to endure the disproportionate negative impacts to their health, environment, economic stability and quality of life,” they state in a letter. 

From small grassroots and environmental justice groups to large national organizations, the organizations writing in support of the Environmental Justice for All Act represent diverse constituencies including impacted community members, public health experts, sustainable business and food advocates, faith communities, farmworkers and climate activists. 

Policy improvements which are addressed in the full version of the Environmental Justice for All Act include: 

  • Requiring EPA to consider cumulative health impacts under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
  • Strengthening the Civil Rights Act to restore the ability of individuals and organizations facing the impacts of discrimination to seek legal remedies.
  • Providing $75 million in annual grants for research and program development to reduce health disparities; and improve public health in environmental justice communities.
  • 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.
  • Supporting access to parks and recreational opportunities that benefit underserved communities.

 

“In the 1990s toxic tank farms were placed next to Black and Brown communities in East Austin causing high cancer rates, groundwater and soil contamination. Community members & activists won the fight to close it down, then it took 15 years to clean up the site. In 2022 they are building new ones. This pattern of environmental injustice needs to stop and passing the Environmental Justice for All Act is the first step,” said Alexia Leclercq, Organizer & Researcher with PODER. 

“Addressing and rectifying environmental justice issues is vital for the health, prosperity and security of our nation,” said Dr. Monica Unseld, Executive Director of Until Data Justice Partners. “We must stop normalizing the suffering and deaths of others for the prosperity of a few. I truly believe that Americans have the knowledge, creativity and ingenuity to create a path for a future where no one is harmed and ALL can prosper. We must set an intentional goal where there is no acceptable risk of health and life. The goal must be health, safety and prosperity for ALL. This bill is a step in that direction.” 

The Environmental Justice For All Act “provides an important opportunity to not only solve for major environmental impacts but also creates a pathway to a stronger economy,” said David Levine, Co-founder & President of the American Sustainable Business Network. “We can support a just transition to an economy creating businesses that not only solve for the negative impacts but provide for the healthier solutions for communities across the country, creating good jobs in the process.” 

“Environmental Justice, as supported by this bill, is essential for people to grow safe food on their land. Land contaminated with chemicals and toxic metals will not be able to produce good food,” said Jaydee Hanson, Policy Director, Center for Food Safety.

“This bill provides legal avenues and resources to address legacy and on-going disparate environmental health impacts on frontline communities and much needed resources to increase the use of safer ingredients in consumer products,” said Dr. Lauren C. Heberle, Director, Center for Environmental Policy and Management.Louisville, KY residents, especially those living in frontline neighborhoods, need this legislation to improve and protect where we live, work, play, and worship. We need it to reduce and address the cumulative impacts of local industrial emissions over time and across space. Without national legislation, local governments' efforts will continue to be at risk and will never adequately address environmental hazards and harm.”

“The Environmental Justice for All Act is essential if we are serious about protecting the  communities and workers who bear the brunt of toxic chemical exposures,” said Fran Teplitz, executive co-director of Green America. 

“The Environmental Justice Act is critical to ensuring that all communities are protected equally under the law,” said Danny Faber, ​​Director, Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative.

“The ocean and fishing communities are often left out of environmental justice conversations. We believe marginalization of any peoples is rooted in a long history of racism, exclusion, and oppression. This bill begins to address the longstanding inequities in our society,” said Jason Jarvis, Board President of North American Marine Alliance.

"Farmworkers are often overlooked as an environmental justice community. But farmworkers across the country face exposure to toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers in the course of their daily work. These pose short-term and chronic health threats to them and to their families and the rural communities they live in. Haitian, Hispanic and African American farmworkers in Florida need recognition and protection under the Environmental Justice For All Act,” said Jeannie Economos, Pesticide Safety  and Environmental Health Project Coordinator, Farmworker Association of Florida. “Their hard work feeds America!" 

“As an organization dedicated to ensuring protections for those most at risk of exposure to hazardous pesticides, including the nation's 2.4 million farmworkers and their families, we see this law as an essential step in the right direction,” said Margaret Reeves, Senior Scientist at Pesticide Action Network.

“For too long those in power have ignored the concerns of communities across the country struggling with a long history of exposure to toxic pollution,” said Earthjustice Healthy Communities Program Legislative Director Raul Garcia. “This bill is an important step toward giving the communities most impacted by pollution the tools to hold polluting industries accountable and remedy generations of environmental racism that has disproportionately impacted communities of color and those of low-income. Thank you Rep. Grijalva and Rep. McEachin for listening to frontline communities, crafting this legislation, and putting it on the pathway to a floor vote. We urge House leadership to take swift action and take up this important legislation.” 

“The marginalization of any peoples is rooted in a long history of racism, exclusion and oppression, especially in agriculture,” said Jim Goodman, President of National Family Farm Coalition. “People of all races, incomes, gender, class, cultural backgrounds, and ethnicities must be able to grow, raise, catch and affordably access culturally appropriate, wholesome foods. As this legislation is being considered, we are fighting to reverse years of economic racism against black farmers and other underrepresented farmers. We know too much to let environmental injustice continue.” 

"Baltimore is a city with fence line communities treated as sacrifice zones. For too long this environmental injustice has been deemed 'acceptable' by Federal, State and Local government regulatory agencies and officials," said Dave Arndt, Director of Locust Point Community Garden. "The Environmental Justice for All Act is a great first step in correcting this issue."

“We stand in support of The Environmental Justice for All Act as it is vital to the achievement of health equity, environmental and climate justice for our Arctic Indigenous peoples and other Indigenous, people of color and poor communities, said Vi Waghiyi, Environmental Health and Justice Program Director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT). “We are tired of waiting for justice and request urgent action from Congress for the health and well being of our people.”

“This legislation is key for our members, principally because so many farmworker women are exposed to harmful levels of pesticides - organophosphates included - that result in premature death, birth defects in their children, and an increased likelihood of developing serious illnesses such as cancer,” said Mily Trevino-Sauceda, Executive Director of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas.

“Finally, a comprehensive Environmental Justice bill that recognizes cumulative impacts to overburdened and underserved communities which have been suffering at the hands of polluters for decades!” said Robin Lewis, Director of Social Justice Ministry, Beloved Community Church UCC.

"Hospitals and health systems are already responding to health impacts caused by climate disasters and other public health emergencies – especially in historically underserved communities where inaction has widened health disparities. Climate change and institutional racism exacerbate public health issues and threaten the stability and effectiveness of our health care system,” said Stacia Clinton, Chief Program Officer, Health Care Without Harm. “To achieve health equity, health care must work in partnership with impacted communities to address policies and practices that unfairly put their health at greater risk based on race, ethnicity, or economic status."

“The Environmental Justice for All Act will address the history of environmental injustice and protect people’s health, their communities, and the environment they live in. Clean Water Action supports this long overdue recognition that for far too long many Americans have been harmed by unfair application of environmental protections,” said Thea Louis, National Water Projects Coordinator, Clean Water Action. 

"As our Black, Latinx, Indigenous and disadvantaged communities are forced to be dumping grounds for polluters, we need the Environmental Justice for All Act more than ever," said LaTricea D. Adams, CEO & President, Black Millennials 4 Flint.

 

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Coming Clean is a collaborative network of frontline community activists, environmental justice organizations, and policy, science and market experts, committed to transforming the chemical industry so that it is no longer a source of harm. For twenty years, we have fought to end legacy pollution in communities of color, ban toxic pesticides that harm farmworkers and their families, regulate hazardous facilities, and end the sale of unsafe products in dollar stores and other retailers across the country.

The Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform is a national network of grassroots Environmental and Economic Justice organizations and advocates in communities that are disproportionately impacted by toxic chemicals from legacy contamination, ongoing exposure to polluting facilities and health-harming chemicals in household products. EJHA supports a just transition towards safer chemicals and a pollution-free economy that leaves no community or worker behind.

 

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