Thursday, August 4, 2011

ENVIRO-NEWS: Obama administration announcement

Obama Administration Advances Efforts to Protect Health of U.S. Communities Overburdened by Pollution

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Makuch, Joseph" <>
Date: Aug 4, 2011 3:21 PM
Subject: [ENVIRO-NEWS] Obama Administration Advances Efforts to Protect Health of U.S. Communities Overburdened by Pollution
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From: U.S. EPA []
Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2011 2:21 PM
Subject: News Release (HQ): Obama Administration Advances Efforts to
Protect Health of U.S. Communities Overburdened by Pollution / Federal
Agencies Sign Environmental Justice Memorandum of Understanding

Stacy Kika

August 4, 2011

Obama Administration Advances Efforts to Protect Health of U.S.
Communities Overburdened by Pollution

Federal Agencies Sign Environmental Justice Memorandum of Understanding

WASHINGTON - Building on its commitment to ensuring strong protection
from environmental and health hazards for all Americans, the Obama
Administration today announced Federal agencies have agreed to develop
environmental justice strategies to protect the health of people living
in communities overburdened by pollution and provide the public with
annual progress reports on their efforts. Environmental Protection
Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, White House Council on
Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and U.S. Attorney General Eric
Holder were joined by agency heads across the Administration in signing
the "Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice and Executive
Order 12898" (EJ MOU).

"All too often, low-income, minority and Native Americans live in the
shadows of our society's worst pollution, facing disproportionate health
impacts and greater obstacles to economic growth in communities that
can't attract businesses and new jobs. Expanding the conversation on
environmentalism and working for environmental justice are some of my
top priorities for the work of the EPA, and we're glad to have President
Obama's leadership and the help of our federal partners in this
important effort," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Every agency
has a unique and important role to play in ensuring that all communities
receive the health and environmental protections they deserve. Our broad
collaboration will mean real progress for overburdened communities."

"All Americans deserve the opportunity to enjoy the health and economic
benefits of a clean environment. Too many low-income and minority
communities shoulder an unacceptable burden of pollution, affecting the
health of American families and the economic potential of American
communities, and the country as a whole," said Sutley. "The Memorandum
of Understanding helps integrate environmental justice into the missions
of Federal agencies, demonstrating our commitment to ensuring America
truly is a country of equal opportunity for all."

"Today's memorandum will reinforce the federal government's commitment
to the guiding principles of environmental justice - that the wealth,
poverty, or race of any people should not determine the quality and
health of the environment in which they live their lives," said Holder.
"These are important steps to ensure that environmental justice is an
integral part of our work."

"Today, we understand better than ever that our health is not just
determined by what happens in the doctor's office.  It is affected by
where we live, work, go to school and play, by what we eat and drink,
and by the air we breathe," said U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services Secretary Katherine Sebelius. "HHS is committed to working with
our partners across government to build healthy communities, especially
in those areas burdened by environmental hazards."

"Every community deserves strong federal protection against pollution
and other environmental hazards," said U.S. Department of the Interior
Secretary Ken Salazar. "The Department of the Interior is committed to
ensuring environmental justice for all populations in the United States
- including American Indians, Alaska Natives and rural communities who
may be among the most vulnerable to health risks."

"This agreement is an important step in furthering the Administration's
commitment to ensuring healthy communities for all Americans - free from
environmental and health hazards," said U.S. Department of Energy
Secretary Steven Chu. "The Department of Energy is aggressively
investing in clean energy in order to improve the environment,
strengthen the economy, save families money, and create the clean
technology jobs of the future here at home."

"No one should have to work in unhealthy or hazardous conditions," said
U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis. "The Department of
Labor is pleased to be part of this important initiative to ensure that
vulnerable workers have access to information and can voice their
concerns about their working environment."

"Like so many things, environmental justice starts in the home, where
families spend most of their time," said U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.  "Whether it's removing
potentially dangerous lead-based paint from homes or helping to
redevelop polluted brownfields, HUD is a critical part of the
President's plan to protect the health of people living in
environmentally challenged parts of our country."

Environmental justice means that all communities overburdened by
pollution - particularly minority, low income and tribal communities -
deserve the same degree of protection from environmental and health
hazards, equal access to the Federal decision-making process, and a
healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

The signing of the EJ MOU is the latest in a series of steps the Obama
Administration has taken to elevate the environmental justice
conversation and address the inequities that may be present in some
communities. Last September, Jackson and Sutley reconvened the
Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG) for the
first time in more than a decade. In December, at the White House
Environmental Justice Forum, Cabinet Secretaries and other senior
Administration officials met with more than 100 environmental justice
leaders from across the country to engage advocates on issues that are
affecting their communities, including  reducing air pollution,
addressing health disparities, and capitalizing on emerging clean energy
job opportunities. The EJ MOU reflects the dialogue, concerns and
commitments made at the forum and other public events. Since her
appointment, Jackson has also joined congressional leaders across the
country to tour impacted communities and hear residents' concerns.

The MOU advances agency responsibilities outlined in the 1994 Executive
Order 12898, "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in
Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations." The Executive Order
directs each of the named Federal agencies to make environmental justice
part of its mission and to work with the other agencies on environmental
justice issues as members of the EJ IWG. The EJ MOU broadens the reach
of the EJ IWG to include participant agencies not originally named in
Executive Order 12898 and adopts an EJ IWG charter, which provides the
workgroup with more structure and direction. It also formalizes the
environmental justice commitments that agencies have made over the past
year, providing a roadmap for agencies to better coordinate their
efforts. Specific areas of focus include considering the environmental
justice impacts of climate adaptation and commercial transportation, and
strengthening environmental justice efforts under the National
Environmental Policy Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The MOU also outlines processes and procedures to help overburdened
communities more efficiently and effectively engage agencies as they
make decisions.

The following agencies signed the EJ MOU: Environmental Protection
Agency; White House Council on Environmental Quality; Department of
Health and Human Services; Department of Justice; Department of
Agriculture; Department of Commerce; Department of Defense; Department
of Education; Department of Energy; Department of Homeland Security;
Department of Housing and Urban Development; Department of Interior;
Department of Labor; Department of Transportation; Department of
Veterans Affairs; General Services Administration; and Small Business

Read the EJ MOU:

[or ]

More information on the EJ IWG:

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