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April 21, 2023
President Biden on Friday announced the creation of a White House Office of Environmental Justice, one of several actions to address the unequal burden that people of color carry from environmental hazards.“Every federal agency must take into account environmental and health impacts on communities and work to prevent those negative impacts,” Mr. Biden told a crowd of applauding activists gathered at a Rose Garden ceremony. “Environmental justice will be the mission of the entire government.” Richard Moore, a co-coordinator of the Los Jardines Institute in Albuquerque, N.M., and a co-chairman of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, said the executive order was “answering a decades-long call to put environmental justice at the heart of federal policy.”Read More
April 27, 2023
Wracked by some of the highest poverty rates in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the predominantly Chicano community of Mountain View, seven miles south of downtown, may seem an unlikely setting for a national wildlife refuge. The 11-square-mile area some 6,000 people call home also contains the state’s largest sewage treatment facility, several chemical manufacturing, asphalt, and concrete plants, sprawling auto salvage lots, bulk-fuel terminals, two Superfund sites and more than 40 other industrial sites regulated by the EPA. Not surprisingly, there are high levels of air pollution and groundwater contamination here.But thanks to decades of grassroots efforts, it is now also home to the first-ever national wildlife refuge being built, literally, from the ground up and in collaboration with the community it serves.Read More
February 26, 2023
In the wake of the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment, Governor Mike DeWine called on Congress to look into why the rural village didn’t know ahead of time they had volatile chemicals coming through town. “We should know when we have trains carrying hazardous materials through the state of Ohio,” DeWine said at a press conference. This information is out there, but it’s probably not what the governor had in mind. With the derailment of the Norfolk Southern train receiving international attention, more railroad communities are now asking what is traveling through their backyard. Stephanie Herron, a national organizer with the collective Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform said in a statement that neighboring communities refuse to accept these events as a fact of life. “These issues aren’t new to the people who live near hazardous facilities who have been speaking up about the urgent need to transition to safer chemicals to prevent disasters in their communities,“ Herron said. “What’s new is that more people are paying attention.”Read More
February 25, 2023
Mike DeWine, the Ohio governor, recently lamented the toll taken on the residents of East Palestine after the toxic train derailment there, saying “no other community should have to go through this”. But such accidents are happening with striking regularity. A Guardian analysis of data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and by non-profit groups that track chemical accidents in the US shows that accidental releases – be they through train derailments, truck crashes, pipeline ruptures or industrial plant leaks and spills – are happening consistently across the country. By one estimate these incidents are occurring, on average, every two days. For Eboni Cochran, a mother and volunteer community activist, the East Palestine disaster has hardly added to her faith in the federal government. Cochran lives with her husband and 16-year-old son roughly 400 miles south of the derailment, near a Louisville, Kentucky, industrial zone along the Ohio River that locals call “Rubbertown.” The area is home to a cluster of chemical manufacturing facilities, and curious odors and concerns about toxic exposures permeate the neighborhoods near the plants.Read More
December 23, 2022
Michele Roberts, 62, has worked in the environmental justice space for more than 20 years. Now she advises the Biden administration as a member of the recently-formed White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, while also serving as national co-coordinator for the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform. Now a longtime resident of northeast D.C., Roberts also created a community-based special justice arts program based out of her church in her hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.Read More
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