Thursday, July 26, 2007

Senator James Inhofe on Environmental Justice

Statement of James M. Inhofe
Hearing: Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health hearing entitled, “Oversight of the EPA’s Environmental Justice Programs."
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"EPA’s continued efforts to protect vulnerable communities from intentional discrimination are commendable. But I fear for every success story of where an EPA justice grant made it possible for a community to educate its residents and improve public health, there is an example of where the term environmental racism was used as a rhetorical tool to mobilize activists, cast blame, and generate unfounded pressure on targeted institutions. I look forward to hearing from the Administration on its progress in implementing its Environmental Justice program, and ideas for making the program more uniform and predictable in its application."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

EJ Hearing Includes State Representatives

Recent reports from the Government Accountability Office and the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency have raised serious concerns about EPA's current commitment to environmental justice. The Clinton Administration issued an Executive Order in 1994 requiring the Federal Government to take action to address the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on minority and low-income populations, with the EPA in the lead.

The Toxic Waste and Race at Twenty report released by the United Church of Christ earlier this year, states taht out of the nine million Americans who live in communities with one or more hazardous waste facility, more than five million of them are people of color. In addition, a 2005 Associated Press analysis of EPA data noted that African Americans are 79 percent more likely than white populations to reside in neighborhoods where air pollution levels posed health risks. Latino children are twice as likely as non-Hispanic white children to have unsafe levels of lead in their blood. (Clinton Press Release)

Pictured at left: South Carolina State Senator Harold Mitchell and Sheila Dillard, of the U.S. Department of Energy. Pictured at right: Louisiana representatives at hearing.

Melinda Downing and Senator Clinton Share a Moment

Our good friend and colleague Melinda Downing of the U.S. Department of Energy attended the Senate hearing entitled, "Oversight of the EPA's Environmental Justice Programs," and chatted with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The hearing was held by the Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health, which is chaired by Senator Hillary Clinton. Ms. Downing is pictured at left with the senator at the hearing.

Senator Hillary Clinton Holds Environmental Justice Hearing

Senator Clinton is holding a hearing entitled, "Oversight of the EPA's Environmental Justice Programs." Senator Clinton is Chair of the Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health.

EPA, academicians and activists presented testimony. There will also be some coverage of an environmental justice bill introduced by Congressman Hilda Solis. The African American Environmentalist Association is shopping a bill with teeth. The Solis bill basically codifies Bill Clinton's Executive Order 12898.

Friday, July 13, 2007

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Promotes Environmental Justice

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is in the early stages of supporting environmental justice by promoting alternative energy research and development at historically black colleges and universities. The Chamber is also examining strategies for minority entrepreneurs to participate in the commercialization of alternative technologies. At a recent luncheon cosponsored by the Chamber and the National Small Town Alliance (NTSA) participants discussed how to prepare minority students for gainful careers in the alternative energy production field. A variety of energy sectors are being discussed, including ethanol and other biofuels, wind, solar, nuclear (new designs), fuel cells, hydrogen, clean coal, sequestration and ocean generation, among others.

The NTSA is assembling a team of organizations, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Instututions (MSIs), industry executives and federal officials to create an HBCU/MSI Alternative Energy Production Consortium (AEPC). The Consortium will concentrate on expanding research and development activities at HBCU/MSIs and commercialization opportunities for minority entrepreneurs.

This 21st Century brand of environmental justice seeks to reduce our dependence on imported oil, assist in the mitigation of negative atmospheric impacts, provide alternatives to reduce disproportionate pollution impacts on vulnerable communities, provide educational opportunities to students interested in alternative energy technologies and encourage more minority participation in the alternative energy sector. Phase one planning was accomplished at the June 28th luncheon. A larger meeting in the fall will address implementation of the Phase I recommenations. Photo: June 28 Meeting at the U.S. Chamer of Commerce

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Alternative Energy Luncheon Plans Fall Conference

The National Small Town Alliance (NSTA) recently cohosted a Roundtable Panel Discussion on Alternative Energy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The luncheon is the first step in a process to increase diversity in the alternative energy production field. The luncheon is also the first step in creating an Alternative Energy Production Consortium that will concentrate on expanding research and development and commercialization opportunities for minority entrepreneurs.

The Alternative Energy Production Consortium will be accomplished in two phases. Phase I was the June 28 luncheon to examine interests, explore possibilities, assign responsibilities and lay the foundation for the overall process. Phase II is a larger gathering in the fall to implement the Phase I recommendations.

NSTA President John Rosenthall, left in upper left photo, welcomed attendees and Bill Kovacs , right in upper left photo, explained the purpose of the meeting. Mr. Kovacs is the Vice President, Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Attendees included representatives from the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, universities, Council on Environmental Quality, EPA and the African American Environmentalist Association.