Today, 175 environmental, environmental justice, civil rights, and allied organizations sent a letter to House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-AR) in support of H.R. 2021, the Environmental Justice for All Act. The bill includes bold policies that will strengthen the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to require federal agencies to consider the cumulative and disproportionate impacts of pollution on communities of color and those of low-income. It would also enable residents and groups to hold polluters accountable in court for projects that use federal funds and engage in environmental discrimination. Additionally, the bill would use new fees on oil, gas, and coal companies to fund investments in environmental justice communities.
“Centered on the simple premise that everyone has the right to drink clean water, breathe clean air, and live without fear of the poisonous effects of toxic chemicals, the Environmental Justice for All Act and the process used to create it, stand as an example to follow and significant step to end environmental racism,” the letter reads. “Setting strong new norms, it makes significant investments to limit and clean up the toxic pollution that has plagued environmental justice communities for decades. Concurrently, it invests in the same communities so that they have equitable access to emerging resources and technologies that should be equitably available to them as our nation recommits itself to addressing our health, safety, and the climate crisis.”
Environmental justice communities continue to face disproportionate levels of exposure to toxic pollution and environmental health harms. The provisions of this bill would begin to address longstanding health and environmental risks and allow individuals and communities to hold those responsible accountable.
“Those in power can no longer feign ignorance to the concerns and experiences of those who have borne the brunt of exposure to the highest levels of pollution in the country,” said Earthjustice Healthy Communities Legislative Director Raul Garcia. “As environmental concerns worsen alongside the climate crisis, urgent action is needed to address past injustices and those of the future. Thank you Rep. Grijalva and Rep. McEachin for inclusively listening to the needs and concerns of environmental justice communities and turning that feedback into policy.”
175 groups signed the letter, including the Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health and Alaska Community Action on Toxics.
“Too many frontline and fenceline communities have been impacted by environmental injustice from climate injustice, energy injustice, food injustice, transportation injustice to water injustice,” said Dr. Sacoby Wilson, director, Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health (CEEH). “It is time that everyone in the United States has access to clean air, clean water, safe food, healthy housing, equitable transit. Passage of the EJ for All Act will be a major step in addressing decades of environmental racism, decades of Jim Crow environmental policies, decades of extraction from the Earth and her peoples, and decades of inaction to the suffering of those communities facing toxic trauma.”
“We are tired of empty promises and want meaningful and urgent action to prevent further harm to our communities who are suffering from toxic exposures that have resulted in a tremendous burden of cancers, damage to our children’s developing brains, birth defects, and reproductive disorders,” said Vi Waghiyi, environmental health and justice program director with Alaska Community Action on Toxics and Native Village of Savoonga Tribal Member. “We are also experiencing the devastating and interconnected effects of the climate crisis. We support H.R. 2021, the Environmental Justice for All Act, and appreciate the work of Rep. Grijalva and Rep. McEachin for hearing our pleas and taking action to address them.”
Read the full letter.