Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Rudy Giuliani and Environmental Justice

Mayor Giuliani reduced crime in New York. That is environmental justice. He made the city a better place to live. However, some would say he gave the NYPD a license to abuse. Regardless, New Yorkers universally agree that he made the city a safer place to live, work and play.

The former mayor also supports Indian Point nuclear power plant and nuclear power technology in general. The plant provides 30% of the electricity for the city (including the subway) and emits no smog forming or greenhouse gases. Harlem, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and the rest of the region have clearner air and fewer asthmas because of the plant, so Giuliani gets EJ points for his support of the facility.

Of course, to our knowledge Giuliani has never directly addressed environmental justice. There was advancement at the state level during his administration but there were no Giuliani Environmental Justice Principles. Now that he is a candidate for president (still unannounced), maybe he will clarify his position on this issue.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hillary Clinton and Environmental Justice

Will Senator Hillary Clinton address environmental justice during her presidential campaign? Will her recognition or lack thereof be a litmus test among environmental justice activists for their support? Does she want or need that support? Does her husband's Presidential Executive Order on Environmental Justice give her a pass? Senator Clinton introduced legislation with Barack Obama during the last Congress to address environmental and health issues in vulnerable communities. They have not reintroduced the bill in the 110th Congress.

Now that they are competitors for the presidency, do not expect them to cosponsor this legislation again. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) introduced the Healthy Communities Act of 2005 on November 17, 2005. The bill was cosponsored by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). The bill establishes an advisory committee, calls for an environmental health report card, establishes health action zones that qualify for grants, calls for environmental health research, and calls for environmental health workforce development. The bill did not address or resolve the Sandoval problem.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Barack Obama and Environmental Justice

Will Senator Barack Obama address environmental justice during his presidential campaign? Will his recognition or lack thereof be a litmus test among environmental justice activists for their support? Does he want or need that support? Some in the Black community are already questioning Obama's 'black' bona fides. Senator Obama introduced legislation with Hillary Clinton during the last Congress to address environmental and health issues in vulnerable communities. They have not reintroduced the bill in the 110th Congress. Now that they are competitors for the presidency, do not expect them to cosponsor this legislation again.

Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) introduced the Healthy Communities Act of 2005 on November 17, 2005. The bill was cosponsored by Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY). The bill establishes an advisory committee, calls for an environmental health report card, establishes health action zones that qualify for grants, calls for environmental health research, and calls for environmental health workforce development. The bill did not address or resolve the Sandoval problem.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Solis Introduces Environmental Justice Legislation

Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-CA) has introduced an environmental justice bill to codify Executive Order 12898 and to require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to fully implement the recommendations of the Inspector General of the Agency.

Congresswoman Solis is an environmental justice leader in the U.S. Congress. She has introduced environmental justice legislation before and she will continue to work for the passage of a bill that will increase protection for vulnerable communities.

Dingell & Solis Want Leaks Plugged & Money Spent

A General Accounting Office (GAO) report requested jointly by Reps. Hilda Solis, right, and John Dingell, left, shows the public cost of cleaning up leaking underground storage tanks is $12 billion and that these leaks are negatively impacting public health and our water supplies. In its response to the GAO state survey, California noted that there are approximately 14,800 leaks in its "cleanup backlog," 80 percent of which have affected groundwater at levels requiring cleanup. 9,000 of these leaks (approximately 60 percent) contain MTBE at levels that require cleanup.

The Trust Fund had a surplus of $2.57 billion in 2006 that is expected to grow to $3.0 billion at the end of Fiscal Year 2008. The tax on gasoline brought in $197 million in 2006 and an additional $99 million was collected in interest on the amounts in the Trust Fund. President Bush only requested $72.4 million in his FY 2008 budget for cleanup, which is approximately 2.82 percent of the total amount in the Trust Fund. A Press Release by Reps. Dingell and Solis provides more information.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Prince George's County Black Chamber Awards Program

The Prince George’s Black Chamber will celebrate its 6th Anniversary and its 6th Annual Gala & Awards Program on March 17th, at Camelot of Upper Marlboro. The Prince George’s Black Chamber has been both a constant in helping to service the needs of small, local, minority and women owned businesses, as well as a catalyst in the ongoing effort to promote greater access to opportunities in the Washington Metropolitan region. In a very short time we have established a history of commitment to the growth and stability of the small, local and minority-owned businesses in our region.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Schmoke : Black History Month Keynote Speaker

The Honorable Kurt L. Schmoke, Dean of Howard University's School of Law, will be the luncheon keybnote speaker at the 81st Annual Black History Luncheon sponsored by the Assoc for the Study of African American History, Sylvia Cyrus-Albritton, Executive Director.

The luncheon is at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, 1000 H Street NW Wash DC 20001 Constitution Ballroom, Sat Feb 24, 2007 at 12:30 pm. For information, call Development Consultant Lyndia Grant: 240-602-6295.

Genetics Justice Legislation Update

The House Committee on Education and Labor passed Genetics Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) on Feb 14 along with a couple of amendments: One amendment would limit the definition of "family member" to a blood relative within four generations and would revise the definition of "genetic testing" to account for prenatal tests. Another amendment that would require employees to separate genetic information from personnel files.. The Kaiser Family Foundation Policy Report has a nice summary of the bill's status.

The Genetics Equity Network has identified the following needs as examples of priorities for legislative action:

- Assuring equitable access to genetic technologies
- Assuring fair use of genetic information that prevents stigmatization of vulnerable populations
- Assuring research of gene-environment interactions addresses not only unsafe physical environments, but also adverse psycho-social environments
- Assuring that the communication of research findings does not isolate or discriminate against population sub-groups based on genetic interpretations
- Assuring that genetics is not confounded by our understandings and misunderstandings of race and ethnicity
- Assuring partnership with local communities in the genomic revolution

Jody Platt Garcia, Assistant, DirectorLife Sciences and Society Program, University of Michigan School of Public Health, 611 Church Street, Rm 250, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-3028 (734) 647-4571

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tavis Smiley Addresses Environmental Justice

Tavis Smiley’s annual “State of the Black Union” symposium took place on Feb 9 & 10 at the Hampton University Convocation Center in Hampton, Virginia. The symposium highlighted "The Covenant in Action," a new companion 2006 book to The New York Times #1 bestseller, "Covenant with Black America." The State of the Black Union 2007 symposium was sponsored by ExxonMobil, McDonald's, Wells Fargo, Norfolk Southern, Verizon, and Colonial Williamsburg, Chesapeake Donor, Busch Gardens & Sea World, and AirTran Airways. ExxonMobil also provided complimentary copies of the book at the symposium.

The Covenant is made up of 10 chapters of issues including economic disparity, health, education and environmental justice. National Wildlife Federation Chairman Jerome Ringo gave a presentation on environmental justice

The Covenant in Action 12- City Tour The tour stops are as follows: Las Vegas (Feb. 12); New Orleans (Feb. 13); Boston (Feb. 14); Newark (Feb. 15); Jacksonville, Fla. (Feb. 16); Charlotte, NC. (Feb. 17); Winston-Salem, N.C. (Feb. 18); Chicago (Feb. 19); Louisville, KY (Feb. 20); Atlanta (Feb. 21); Daytona, Fla. (Feb. 22); Los Angeles (Feb. 23); and Cleveland and Columbus, OH (Feb. 24). For location details log on at

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Black Community, Global Warming & Nuclear Power

Although there is significant talk about nuclear power as a solution to global warming because the technology emits no greenhouse gases (GHG), the mainstream environmental movement still monolithically opposes it. Politically, it appears that support or opposition for nuclear power will break down along partisan lines with Democrats opposing and Republicans supporting the technology. This conference will address the issue of nuclear power and whether it is beneficial or detrimental to African Americans and other minority communities.

Does nuclear power represent environmental justice or injustice? The environmental justice movement mirrors the mainstream environmental movement on most traditional environmental issues. The mainstream environmental movement supports environmental justice in theory but is still one of the most segregated sectors in America. Nuclear waste is an ongoing issue for everyone regarding commercial nuclear power. The Department of Energy says a repository in Nevada will not be ready until 2017. There is an environmental justice history with nuclear power and the Black community will have a role in the future development of this technology.

Although not monolithic, what position will the Black community take on nuclear power? Barack Obama is running for president; what position will he take? Rev Al Sharpton will probably run for president again. What is his position? What about Rev Jesse Jackson and other voices in the community? Maybe African American opinions on this issue will just be ignored.

Monday, February 12, 2007

No Fear Coalition Announces May Conference

The No Fear Coalition is holding a conference on Capitol Hill-- Cannon Caucus Room on May 15, 2007. Afternoon workshops will take place at the Library of Congress across the street from the US Capitol. Training will be provided at the conference and there will be an awards dinner after the workshops.

No Fear stands for Notification of Federal Employees Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act. Marshs Coleman Adebayo is chairwoman of the coalition and executive director of the No Fear Institute, where Rev Walter E. Fauntroy is chairman of the board. The No FEAR Institute, P.O. Box 68, Glen Echo, MD 20812, 1-888-478-4439.

Photo: President Bush hugs Mrs. Adebayo in the Oval Office at the White House after signing the "First Civil Rights Law of the 21st Century."

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Inside EPA Update on Environmental Justice Legislation

Democrats Face Grassroots Push For Stronger Environmental Justice Plans

Congressional Democrats, who are working to tighten federal environmental justice (EJ) and civil rights policies, are facing growing pressure from grassroots groups to strengthen legislative proposals that activists say do not go far enough to protect low-income and minority communities from pollution.

Some grassroots sources are arguing that a draft bill prepared by House Democrats requiring EPA to “devote attention” to EJ concerns in its decisions does not require the agency to mitigate any harms. Meanwhile, one grassroots group is lobbying key lawmakers to back a draft bill that allows citizen suits to block construction of polluting facilities in minority or low-income neighborhoods.

Pressure on Democrats to tighten their proposals could heighten a confrontation with the Bush administration over its controversial decision to drop race as a factor in determining whether pollution harms communities. However, Democrats appear to be resisting the community groups’ proposals because of concerns that the citizen suit provisions would prompt widespread opposition that would block the bill’s passage.

Reprinted with permission from

House Environment Committee: No Staff, No Justice

Evidently House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell intends to operate the subcommittees under the auspices of the full committee. This is not good. The subcommittees, particularly the Environment & Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, chaired by Congressman Al Wynn (D-MD), need their own staffs and budgets. The full committee will be burdened with its own committee hearings and activities.

We should be concerned that environmental issues in general and environmental justice in particular will not receive adequate attention from Congress if the subcommitte that addresses these issues has no staff and no budget. After being out of power for over a decade, one would think there would be a hunger to thoroughly cover environmental concerns.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced the establishment of a Special Select Committee on Global Warming. The speaker will seek funding for this committee even though E & C Chairman John Dingell opposes the idea. Speaker Pelosi is also fighting with House Republicans over which jet she can use. Shouldn't the House adequately staff and fund the Environment and Hazardous Materials Committee before spending money on these other items?

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Alexander v. Sandoval

The Supreme Court's Sandoval decision took away a private right of action for racial discrimination cases brought under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Not all laws allow for a private right of action. Instead, a person would need the government to bring a case for them. To prove disparate impact one has to show that a certain group suffered more than others because of a policy or action. In 2001 the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Alexander v. Sandoval that people can enforce their civil rights only if they can prove that discrimination was intentional, not just that it had a discriminatory impact on the basis of race or ethnicity.

Intentional discrimination is virtually impossible to prove in a court of law. The disparate impact standard could no longer be used to prove racial discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Not all laws allow for a private right of action. Instead, a person would need the government to bring a case for them. To prove disparate impact one has to show that a certain group suffered more than others because of a policy or action.

In Alexander v. Sandoval, Ms. Martha Sandoval, upper left, sued the state of Alabama because, as a state with an "English only" policy, they refused to give any driver's license tests in Spanish, thus discriminating against her on the basis of her national origin. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, decided that private individuals could only sue the state under Title VI if they could prove intentional discrimination, something a person in Ms. Sandoval's position would not be able to prove. After this case, if a person only has proof of a disparate impact, they have no private right of action in federal court, so they can only try and persuade the federal government to take their case, something that rarely happens. (Nat'l Campaign To Restore Civil Rights)

EPA Achievement In Environmental Justice Award

The U.S. EPA requests nominations for an award that will recognize industry organizations for their achievement in addressing environmental justice issues or achieving thegoals of environmental justice in a manner that results in positive impacts to a community. Entries must be postmarked by March 31, 2007. The award will be presented in September 2007 at the National Association of Manufacturers Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

How to Enter the Competition: The award competition is open to allindustry organizations within the United States. Nominees must havereached a significant milestone or accomplishment within the past fiveyears (2001-2006). Nominees should address six criteria: (1) innovation;(2) corporate responsibility; (3) community, equity, and publicinvolvement; (4) partnerships and collaboration; (5) integration; and(6) demonstrated results, effectiveness, and sustainability. At leastone award will be made each year. Self-nominations are allowed andexpected. There is no entry fee and no standard entry form, butnominations must meet certain requirements. EPA may reject nominationsthat do not meet these requirements.

Monday, February 5, 2007

EJ 2007 Conference Reps Meet with House Majority Whip

EJ 2007 Conference Coordinator John Rosenthall and African American Environmentalist Association President Norris McDonald met with James Clyburn (D-SC) in his Capitol Building office to discuss the conference and other matters. Congressman Clyburn is the House Majority Whip and he has an office on the second floor of the Capitol Building in addition to his regular legislative office in the Rayburn House Office Building. Rosenthall and McDonald also met with Clyburn's Chief of Staff, Yelberton R. Watkins.

While on Capitol Hill they visited the offices of Al Wynn (D-MD), Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Hilda Solis (D-CA). The conference and pending environmental justice legislation were discussed. All of the bills are available at the Environmental Justice Coalition. One last stop was made to attend the EPA Budget Briefing by U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson. (More)
Picture: John Rosenthall, Congressman James Clyburn, & Norris McDonald

EPA 2008 Budget Addresses Environmental Justice

The FY 2008 Budget Request for the U.S. EPA is $7.2 billion. Environmental justice is included in Goal 4: Healthy Communities and Ecosystems and the budet for that goal is about $1.2 billion and represents 16% of the total EPA budget. The FY 2008 Budget in Brief states that, "EPA is committed to environmental justice for all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income. Toward that end, the Agency will focus its environmental justice efforts on the following eight priorities:
  1. Reducing asthma attacks,
  2. Reducing exposure to air toxics,
  3. Increasing compliance with regulations,
  4. Reducing incidence of elevated blaod lead levels,
  5. Ensuring that fish and shellfish are safe to eat,
  6. Ensuring that water is safe to drink,
  7. Revitalizing brownfields and contaminated sites, and
  8. Using collaborative problem-solving to address environmental and public health concerns
Links to OMB's FY 2008 Budget Fact Sheets:

Link to all Fact Sheets:
Budget Overview:
Budget Discipline:
The Economy:
War on Terror:
Homeland Security:
State and International Programs:
Health Care:
Space and Science:

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Black History Month

Black History Month was established in 1976 and is celebrated during the month of February. Black History Month was an expansion of Negro History Week, which was established in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson. (More)

The Environmental Justice Movement is still very young. There are many opportunities for historic achievements. The challenges are many. The people are willing. The time is now. Feel free to recognize one of your colleagues during Black History Month with a short Comment about their work.

Applications due March 6, 2007 for Summer 2007 (May 22 to August 24, 2007)
Applications due June 26, 2007 for Fall 2007 (September 4 to December 14, 2007)

Friday, February 2, 2007

EPA Agrees to Sponsor EJ 2007 Conference

The State of Environmental Justice in America 2007 Conference is proud to announce that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the latest agency to become a sponsor of the conference. EPA now joins the United States Departments of Agriculture and Energy as conference sponsors and has made a generous financial contribution to ensure the conference's success. According to Conference Coordinator John Rosenthall, the EPA sponsorship and financial contribution are great successes for the conference and should pave the way for other Federal agencies to do the same. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is pictured at right.

Call for Nominations: 2007 ABA Enviromental Awards

The ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources invite nominations for the 2007 ABA Award for Excellence in Environmental and Resources Stewardship. The Award for Excellence recognizes individuals and groups who have made major contributions in the areas of resources, energy, or environmental law or policy, in ways that have enhanced conservation, responsible development, prudent resource use and/or pollution control and mitigation.

The Section must receive nominations on or before June 15, 2007. Awards will be made no later than SEpt 1, 2007. The awards will be presented at the 15th Section Fall Meeting in Pittsburg, PA from Sept 26-30, 2007. For details about the award and nomination process, please visit NOMINATION PROCESS. Or contact Anna Steckel, Section Assistant, (312) 988-5625 or .

Thursday, February 1, 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.

Movement 2032: Is there a place for EJ in Emergency Preparedness & Homeland Security

The Environmental Protection Agency plan for implementing environmental justice programs includes issuing guidance for its staff, performing training within the Agency, coordinating with states, Indian tribes, industry, and all stakeholders, devoting resources to environmental justice program implementation, and developing measurement tools for accountability. While this plan is noble it fails to address issues of homeland security and emergency preparedness.

How will this movement which has focused on civil rights for so many years engage in dialogue with the power brokers in Washington, to demand that EJ concerns are included in every evacuation, remediation and security plan. Will the movement embrace other groups, ideas and viewpoints? Will we be able to reach the XBOX and PS2 generation? How do we change the mindset of a capitalist society to view us as a partner and not an adversary? How do we channel our anger into action? Why are we more interested in lawsuits instead of mediation?

Our movement must tweak its’ model to one of action and not reaction. The issues that we must confront might change the face of the movement. When will we begin to build a legion of new leaders to sit under the tutelage of those that started the movement? Is it important to do so? Will we continue to be stuck in the sixties or become tech savvy with our message? Key issues include: coastal restoration, climate change and alternative forms of energy. President Bush is mandating that the United States become less dependent on foreign oil and began to look at alternatives sources at home. How are we going to ensure that our communities will have a voice in this emerging marketplace? How do we include these concerns in our overall message? How will we address racism as it pertains to building green, environmental health and coastal restoration?

We have an opportunity now to address these issues but we must act quickly. While we don’t have to change the messenger the message must be tweaked.

Wynecta Fisher