WE ACT started off in NY and just a year ago opened a new DC office focused more on federal policy. As part of WE ACT’s mission, the office has drafted an important resolution as part of the 20th anniversary of Executive Order 12898. As I touched upon in my last blog, the environmental justice community wants to see continued progress. February is a special month because it marks Black History Month. A major component of EJ is involving minority groups every step of the way when making federal policies and ensuring that under the National Environment Policy Act there are public hearings that communities can attend that will allow them to give feedback to agencies so that their input is heard every step of the way.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus Representative Ellison and Grijalva are cosponsoring House Resolution 479 that WE ACT created. HRSE 479 honors the environmental justice movement and coincides with the “Close the Gap” campaign that was started this past December to spearhead this movement. The Resolution recognizes the continued importance of addressing environmental justice concerns. For the past week we have been calling different congressional offices to garner support and add more signatures to HRSE 479. We will continue to bring it to the attention of Congress as the month progresses.
As well we created a letter to President Obama that addresses the President’s Climate Action Plan. In the CAP, President Obama announced his plans to reduce carbon pollution, to prepare the US for the impacts of climate change and to lead international efforts to address global climate change. When looking through just an environmental lens, the CAP covers a lot of needed bases but when environmental justice is thrown in, it is evident that EJ is not a priority. EJ is only mentioned once in the plan just further showing how there is a lack of initiative.
WE ACT has contacted the White House many times about our concerns towards the lack of justice in the CAP but have received no response. We need every stakeholder involved in this matter and the leadership must come from the White House. Typically low-income, tribal, and minority communities are disproportionately burdened by environmental degradation. Ironically these populations usually are not the lead polluters in the area but through misfortune are adversely affected. These communities lack inadequate infrastructure, have limited access to healthcare, and have higher risk factors for heat and pollution-related diseases. We have also contacted offices for signatures for the letter. If we show this is a priority, Obama is much more likely to take notice and push this issue more to the forefront. WE ACT along with our supporters are more than ready to help the White House tackle these environmental justice leaders. We have rallied our troops but now we need our fearless leader to address this issue head on in front of the entire nation so that environmental justice is on everyone’s minds.