Wednesday, January 31, 2007

John Rosenthall Meets with CEQ Chairman Jim Connaughton

Conference Coordinator John Rosenthal met the Chairman of the Council on Enviornmental Quality (CEQ) Jim Connaughton to discuss The State of Environmental Justice Conference 2007. Chairman Connaughton has tentatively agreed to participate in the conference. Chairman Connaughton is helping to coordinate the Bush Administration's air quality and climate change initiatives. The meeting was productive and included discussions about other environmental justice issues.

CEQ was created by NEPA (1969) and has eight duties and purposes:

Assist and Advise the President in preparing an annual environmental quality report, gather, analyze, and interpret information on trends in the quality of the environment, review and appraise federal agency compliance with the environmental policies of NEPA, develop and recommend to the President national policies to foster and promote the improvement of environmental quality, conduct investigations, studies, surveys, research, and analysis relating to ecological systems, document and define changes and trends in the natural environment and their underlying causes, report at least once each year to the President on the condition of the environment, and make recommendations to the President with respect to environmental policies and legislation.

James L. Connaughton was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 14 and appointed by President Bush on June 18, 2001 to serve as the Chairman of the CEQ. Chairman Connaughton serves as the senior environmental advisor to the President as well as Director of the White House Office of Environmental Policy, which oversees the development of environmental policy, coordinates interagency implementation of environmental programs, and mediates key policy disagreements among Federal agencies, state, tribal and local governments and private citizens.

In addition to the duties and functions listed above, CEQ also has four specific NEPA responsibilities: Issue regulations and other guidance regarding NEPA, Resolve lead agency disputes, Mediate interagency disputes over environmental policy, Provide training and advice to federal agencies regarding NEPA compliance,

Saturday, January 27, 2007

President Bush and Environmental Justice

The Bush administration has stepped up to address environmental justice in 2007. The U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture are cosponsoring The State of Environmental Justice in America Conference 2007 with Howard University and the National Small Town Alliance. Other federal agencies and NGOs are in the process of becoming sponsors. This public/private dialogue will hopefully lead to improved protection for vulnerable communities.

Bush administration officials like to point out how reductions in pollutants, such as benzene and mercury, help vulnerable communities most because they are disproportionately impacted. Activists want programs and dollars targeted directly to vulnerable communities, polluters closed down and communites compensated or relocated. Partisan politics can also obscure opportunities and pitfalls for environmental justice. For instance, the traditional environmental comunity does not recognize any environmental achievements by the Bush administration. Actually there are many. Neither public institutions nor the EJ Movement should operate with blinders on. Merit should be based on policies and practices.

The recent Capitol Hill panel discussion hosted by Congressman Alcee Hastings illustrated some disagreements about some policies regarding the scope of environmental justice. An inspector general report also described some shortcomings regarding Executive Order 12898 compliance. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a statement on environmental justice that generated some controversy. The EJ 2007 Conference provides an excellent opportunity to exchange views about these and other issues.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Alcee Hastings: Environmental Justice Leader

Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL 23) has a long history of environmental justice leadership. He has introduced environmental justice legislation, critiqued the Administration’s “Environmental Justice Strategic Plan Framework and Outline," introduced environmental justice amendments, and has an excellent voting record on environmental issues. He is hosting a panel discussion on environmental justice on Capitol on Jan 24, 2007.

Congressman Hastings was first elected in 1992. Congressman Hastings is a member of the House Rules Committee and is a senior Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Hastings is the Ranking Democratic Member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security. He was born in Altamonte Springs, Seminole County, Fla., September 5, 1936; B.A., Fisk University, Nashville, Tenn., 1958; attended, Howard University School of Law, Washington, D.C., 1958-1960; J.D., Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, Tallahassee, 1963; lawyer, private practice; judge of the circuit court of Broward County, Fla., 1977-1979; appointed United States District Judge for the Southern District of Florida.

EJ Conference Mentioned At White House Briefing

Environmental Justice 2007 Conference participant Norris McDonald attended the White House briefing this morning on the State of the Union (Energy). McDonald noted that the Bush administration is sponsoring an environmental justice conference through the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He asked if President Bush is planning to mention environmental justice in his State of the Union speech tonight. Council on Environmental Quality Chairman Jim Connaughton responded that there were many environmental justice components included in the speech, particularly an initiative to remove more benzene from gasoline.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2007 (HR 493)

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2007 (H.R. 393) promotes genetic testing for disease but makes genetic discrimination illegal. The goal is to make people feel comfortable about sharing their genetic information by establishing safeguards to prevent that information from being exploited. Howard University and the University of Michigan School of Public Health held a workshop in October 2006 to address the genetics justice issue, entitled: "Achieving Equity in Genetics Policy through Diversity in Decision Making.

The Coalition for Genetic Fairness, led by the Genetics Alliance is supporting this bill. President Bush supports the legislation. H.R. 493 would establish a national and uniform basic standard to fully protect the public from discrimination and allay their concerns about the potential for discrimination, thereby allowing individuals to take advantage of genetic testing , technologies, research, and new therapies.
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings and The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation are hosting a panel discussion: Environmental Justice: Identification to Implementation: A Policy Discussion about current Environmental Challenges and the Legacy of Executive Order 12898. Wednesday, January 24, 2006, 10:00am-11:30am, Gold Room, 2168 Rayburn House Office Building.

Many new environmental challenges are continually identified that disproportionately impact communities of color and lower-income communities. To meet these challenges community organizations and federal agencies will need to collaborate in the implementation of federal environmental justice mandates. In this discussion, panelists will address a number of questions, including: What challenges hinder the implementation of Executive Order 12898? What resources would empower community organizers to assist federal agencies in this effort?

Panelists include:
Jon Cannon, University of Virginia
Roy Jones, South Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance
Michele Roberts, Beyond Pesticides
Charles Lee, Office of Environmental Justice – EPA
Sheila Holt-Orsted, Dixon, TN Resident

To RSVP, contact Alex T. Johnson, CBCF Fellow in the Office of Congressman
Alcee Hastings at 202.225.0615 or

Friday, January 19, 2007

Featured Abstract of the Day

In response to the call for papers, the conference received 110 abstracts. Between now and March 29th we will feature an abstract of a paper that will be presented at the conference.

Public Hazard, Personal Peril: The Impact of Non-Governmental Organizations in Environmental Justice Claims

Submitted by: Andrea Y. Simpson, Associate Professor, University of Richmond, Department of Political Science, Richmond, VA 23173,

ABSTRACT: This paper is part of a larger project designed to understand the dynamics of contemporary social movements through an examination of the environmental justice movement. Led primarily by working-class women of color in urban environments, this movement seeks policy redress for unjust distribution of toxic waste sites and industries with toxic emissions. Civic engagement and contemporary political activism has a new face—activists must compete for media exposure and negotiate political and economic interests. This is especially difficult for women who occupy the space where minority, working-class, and gender status meet.
The urban context, along with the characteristics of the grassroots leadership, calls for a reconsideration of traditional social movement theory. The rise in prominence and power of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the anti-globalization, environmentalism, and environmental justice movements adds a new wrinkle to the process by which movements are built and sustained. Non-governmental organizations may serve as mediators between activists and their targets, and they may lend credibility to grassroots leaders. This research explores how grassroots activism, the junction of race, class, and gender, the politics of place, economic incentives, and the involvement of NGOs affect the relative success of such movements.

Sierra Club Offering Environmental Justice Training

The Sierra Club is circulating the notice below:

Sierra Club leaders: Here is an opportunity to further excite and perhaps engage your fellow Club members on environmental justice issues that surround our environmental work. We are offering an online university-style learning experience, "Tipping the Scales for Environmental Justice," for Sierra Club activists (or potential activists) who are concerned about the inter-related environmental and social justice issues that face many of America's communities. The mission of the course is to engage in dialogue, deepen our understanding of the issues facing many of our country?s poorest communities, and begin to learn how to take effective action.

To learn more and apply for this course, next offered from February 5 th to March 12 th , go to Training/Tutorials on Clubhouse at, or directly to pass this notice along to your chapter and group executive committee, conservation committee, and others you think could benefit from this learning experience.Please contact me if you have questions (or suggestions)Frank Orem, Training Governance Committee 503/635-2607

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Global Warming and Environmental Justice

Global warming poses an immediate threat to vulnerable communities because: 1) hotter temperatures cook up a more toxic photochemical smog, 2) low-income people cannot afford the medicines (sprays, pills, nebulizers), doctors and hospitalizations needed to efffectively treat asthma (made worse by more smog), 3) disproportionately larger numbers of pollution sites add to the air pollution loads experienced by other communities, 4) bus stops and bus depots are unhealthy for asthmatics and buses are too slow for emergency room visits, 5) milder winters produce super pollen seasons that exacerbate allergies and asthma, and 6) low-income people cannot afford the air conditioners or cooling bills needed to adequately protect themselves from the effects of heat and smog.

It is crucial that solutions are developed now to mitigate climate change. Fortunately, the technologies exist or are being developed to fight global warming. The Bush administration, Congress, the marketplace and the general public all acknowledge global warming. Hopefully, we will exercise the political will and societal dedication to adopt the policy and technological solutions necessary to solve this problem. Sea level rise might be an inconvenience for waterfront property owners one day, but it is a life and death situation right now for vulnerable communities.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Other Federal Agencies Should Sponsor 2007 EJ Conference

We sincerely hope all of the other federal agencies will sponsor this vitally important conference. This is an opportunity to step forward and interact with professionals, community activists and other citizens and participate in a dialogue about improving environmental protection for vulnerable communities. The Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice has been operating for years and this conference is a great opportunity to share the programs and sucesses each agency has engaged in over the past decade.

The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy have stepped forward to sponsor this important forum on environmental justice. We are confident that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the progenitor of Fed EJ, will also step forward to continue its leadership in 2007. Wouldn't it be magnificient if a significant number of federal agencies spsonored and participated in this conference? The activist community and the general public are probably unaware of most federal activities that are designed to mitigate environmental injustices. This conference will be broadcast worldwide in one form or another and this is a great outreach opportunity to share mitigation strategies. We can all work together to achieve environmental justice. The conference organizers look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Environmental Justice

If Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. was alive today he would be an environmental justice activist. He would call for the equal protection of all people with respect to environmental issues. He would denounce environmental injustice. He would organize marches to demonstrate against the inhumanity of purposely locating a disproportionate number of pollution facilities in minority and low-income communities.

MLK will have a monument on the National Mall soon. His burial site in Atlanta at the King Center will hopefully receive needed support soon. Hopefully, everything that MLK stood for will come soon. Although he gave his life so that America would be free, he would not like the underbelly that evolved from the freedom he championed. From abandoned waste sites to Black-On-Black Murder, King would have challenges today that easily rival the external threat of racism in the 50's and 60's. Roughly 3,000 lynchings of blacks during the American Black Holocaust and now that number of murders EACH YEAR from the Black-on-Black fractricide. Environmental racism would be on the list but Black-on-Black murder would be at the top of his agenda. So let us remember this great leader on his birthday. There is much work to be done.

Schadenfreude in the Environmental Justice Movement

Everybody knows about it, particularly in Washington, DC. Regardless of its unseemliness, its practitioners simply cannot help themselves. In fact, creating an 'accident' makes one a practitioner. Narcissim is the mirror of the Schadenfreudist. From the Garden to the modern urban suites, Schadenfreudists have practiced their trade. Schadenfreudism in all of its forms is anathema to environmental justice.

There in the intratribal and extratribal rivalries that provided 'product' for the slave trade to jockeying for an extra spoonful of gruel on the slave ship, the Schadenfreudist schemed. There between the field Negro and the house Negro, Schadenfreudism prospered. There in the civil rights movmenet, the practice was neutralized (for a minute). And now in the streets and in the suites, the practice is thriving. Regardless, Environmental Justice in America 2007 will not only be a very successful conference, it will evolve into a practical servant for the protection of those most vulnerable to environmental injustice.
[Schaden - damage + Freude-- joy] (As used here, not only one taking joy from the trouble of others, but also creating trouble for others in order to experience the joy)

Friday, January 12, 2007

William K. Reilly Initiated Environmental Justice at EPA

When representatives from the environmental justice movement met with then EPA Administrator Bill Reilly, right, we were pleasantly surprised to find a friend. Not only a friend but a man very serious about environmental justice. It was under his watch that an EPA EJ office was started. He established the foundation for Presidential Excutive Order 12898 issued from the Clinton administration. For those of us there, you will remember that he received a standing ovation from every EJ rep in the room at our final meeting. It is not widely known that he also personally contributed financially to the environmental justice movement. His will be some very big shoes to fill.

William K. Reilly is Founding Partner of Aqua International Partners, a private equity fund dedicated to investing in companies engaged in water and renewable energy. Aqua, based in San Francisco, is part of the the Texas Pacific Group. Mr. Reilly has served as the Payne Visiting Profesor at Stanford University (1993-1994). Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1989-1993), and President of the World Wildlife Fund (1985-1989). He was head of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Earth Summit at Rio in 1992. Mr. Reilly is Chairman of the Board of the World Wildlife Fund, Co-Chair of the National Commission on Energy Policy, Chair of the Advisory Board for the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Goldman School of Public Policy as the University of California at Berkely, and a Director of the Packard Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and the American Academy in Rome. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Dupont, ConocoPhilips, and Royal Caribbean International. He holds a B.A. degree from Yale, J.D. from Harvard, and M.S. in Urban Planning from Columbia University.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Rep Al Wynn to Chair Environment Subcommittee

Rep. Albert Wynn (D-MD), left, was nominated by the Democrats on Nov 9 to chair the House Energy & Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials, a key House subcommittee with jurisdiction over EPA. Wynn, an 8th term congressman represents Prince George's County, the richest majority black county in the U.S.Congressman Wynn will be a great chairman.

He is very smart on energy and environmental issues. Not only has he been an excellent representative for the fourth congressional district in Maryland, he has been a champion for the environment nationally and globally. Congressman Wynn will bring fresh energy to enviromental justice issues. Congratulations Congressman Wynn.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

New EJ Resource for Theological Discussion & Action

The National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs invites your congregation to hold a discussion or series on race and environmental justice during the upcoming Black History Month in February with Environmental Racism: An Ecumenical Study Guide.
Due to the presence of toxic and polluting industries, many people of color are forced to work, live and play in unhealthy environments.

Chloe Schwabe, Justice Specialist 202-481-6932
National Council of Churches Ecojustice Program
110 Maryland Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002

Monday, January 8, 2007


If there are any businesses, agencies or institutions whose financial or other form of participation would prove offensive to anyone, speak now, or forever hold your peace.

Send your thoughts and comments to:

Or Comment below.

Who Owns Environmental Justice?

Many people all over America and throughout the world work on environmental justice issues. Does the environmental justice movement (very quiet lately at the national level) seek to mimic the traditional, mainstream environmental movement's claim to ownership of environmental issues and stake out a claim on total ownership of environmental injustice issues? If so, is this a good thing or a bad move? Some have postulated that "environmentalism is dead." That is not true but the mainstream environmental movement seems to be stuck in the mud of the 20th Century and is one of the most segregated sectors in American society.

So who owns the environmental justice movement? Does anyone own environmental justice? Is there a president? A dictator? A committee? An oligarchy? A board? Divinely anointed? What is the role of the federal government? What about state and local governments? The mainstream environmental movement has the Green Group and periodically 'The Group of 10 or 12 or whatever.' Are such designations needed? Are they efficient? Are they effective? Is something better than nothing? Is a structure needed or can individuals and groups simply implement meetings and activities as best they can? Is a League of Environmental Justice Voters needed? It is probably some of all of the above. The conference will surely examine some of these questions.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Kurt Schmoke Shows Leadership on Environmental Justice

The Dean of the Howard University School of Law, Kurt Schmoke, right, has stepped up to the plate to take a leadership role in addressing environmental justice. The Howard University School of Law is a sponsor of The State of Environmental Justice in America 2007 Conference.

Dean Kurt L. Schmoke was appointed Dean of the Howard University School of Law on January 1, 2003. Schmoke earned his undergraduate degree in history from Yale University and pursued graduate studies on a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford. He earned the Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School. A partner in the international law firm of Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering, Schmoke served as the mayor of Baltimore City for 12 years, from 1987 to 1999, and was the State’s Attorney from 1982 to 1987.

Samuel Bodman Shows Leadership on Environmental Justice

Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, left, has stepped up to the plate to take a federal government leadership role in addressing environmental justice. The Department of Energy is a sponsor of The State of Environmental Justice in America 2007 Conference.

Bodman was nominated to replace Spencer Abraham on Dec 10, 2004 and was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate on Jan 31, 2005. Secretary Bodman has a chemical engineering degree and served as an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for 6 years. He is a former Director of MIT's School of Engineering Practice. He has also served as an executive in the private sector. Samuel Bodman is married to M. Diane Bodman. He has three children, two stepchildren, and eight grandchildren.

Mike Johanns Shows Leadership on Environmental Justice

Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, right, has stepped up to the plate to take a federal government leadership role in addressing environmental justice. The Department of Agriculture is a sponsor of The State of Environmental Justice in America 2007 Conference.

Secretary Johanns was nominated to replace outgoing Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman on Dec 2 2004 and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Jan 20, 2005. Secretary Johanns is a former governor of Nebraska and former mayor of Lincoln. He is a lawyer, married to Stephanie Johanns, a former Lancaster County Commissioner and Nebraska State Senator. They have two children.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

New Maryland Attorney General Touts Environmental Justice

New Maryland State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler has vowed to fight for environmental justice. He acknowledges that many power plants are located disproportionately in African American communities and states that environmental injustice complaints should be viewed as a civil rights issue. Doug Gansler is well known in the Washington Metroplitan Area due to his previous postion as State's Attorney for Montgomery County.

He has also vowed to protect the Chesapeake Bay. With a staff of 420 lawyers, sounds like environmental justice and the bay have a good friend in Maryland. (Wash Post)