Thursday, December 18, 2008

Kent Benjamin To Be Associate Director of EPA OEJ

Beginning in January 2009, EPA's Kent Benjamin will be moving permanently to the Office of Environmental Justice to serve as the Associate Director.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

EPA OEJ Director Requests All Federal Agencies To Support 2009 EJ Conference

December 3, 2008


To: Members, Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (IWG)

From: Charles Lee, Director /Signed
USEPA, Office of Environmental Justice

Subject: Federal Agency Support and Participation in the State of Environmental Justice in America 2009 Conference

The second annual State of Environmental Justice (EJ) in America Conference (Conference), held on May 21-24, 2008, at Howard University, was a resounding success. More than 300 people, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) senior management, participated in the Conference. I would like to recognize and thank the managers and staffs of the sponsoring agencies: Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and our sister offices at the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Third Annual State of Environmental Justice in America Conference 2009 is fast approaching. The planning stages are underway for the Conference, which is scheduled for May 28-29, 2009, at the Doubletree Hotel in Crystal City, VA. EPA and DOE are planning to enter into co-sponsorship agreements with EJ Conference, Inc., a non-profit organization that represents non-federal stakeholders for the conference. EJ Conference, Inc. hosted the 2008 conference.

As you know, the IWG, and its Federal agency members, have been a major supporter of the Conference. The success of the two previous EJ in America Conferences can be attributed, in large part, to the support of Federal agencies. Financial support from the agencies helped pay for travel scholarships for community-based organization, the conference facilities, and contractor support.

With so much regional and national interest in EJ, we anticipate, and see a need for, additional Federal agency support for the 2009 Conference. We expect more community organizations to want to participate, in order to identify opportunities for collaboration with Federal agencies, particularly during the Federal agencies Listening Sessions planned for the Conference.

As a result, we ask that each department or agency consider an early commitment to support and participate in the 2009 Conference. This support may take the form of financial assistance to EJ Conference, Inc. If your agency has authority to provide funding to EJ Conference, Inc, and decides to do so, please contact John Rosenthall, President of EJ Conference, Inc. at (703) 624-2257 or email John Rosenthal.

If your agency has questions about other forms of Federal support please contact either Melinda Downing (, DOE EJ Program Manager, (202) 586-7703, or Danny Gogal, IWG Program Manager (202) 564-2576 for additional information.

1. Executive Order 12898 established the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice to help coordinate environmental justice planning among agencies. The mission of this group includes fostering collaborative projects among agencies and environmental justice communities.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Campaign against Climate Change presents:


Date: Saturday 6th December 2008

Time: 12 - 4pm

Start Venue: Grosvenor Square, London, UK

Speakers at the march will include: George Monbiot (Honorary President, Campaign against Climate Change); Michael Meacher MP(ex-environment minister); Mark Dowd (Operation Noah) Muzammal Hussain (London Islamic Network for the Environment - LINE) Nick Clegg MP (leader, Liberal Democrat Party), Caroline Lucas MEP (leader, Green party) and others.

This march is expected to draw thousands and is part of a series of demonstrations taking place throughout the world. The March on Parliament for the Climate marks the Saturday midway through the UN Climate Talks in Poznan, Poland. We make our demands on the UK government, in solidarity with the world's poorest and most vulnerable communities that will suffer worst and most immediately from climate change, caused overwhelmingly by the rich long-industrialised countries. For more information please visit:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

USDA Rural Development Staff EJ Guidance

The purpose of the USDA Rural Development Administrative Notice (AN) is to clarify the procedures used in complying with Executive Order (EO) 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, issued February 11, 1994, RD Instruction 7 CFR Part 1940-G and RUS 7 CFR Part 1794. This AN also clarifies the relationship and use of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in implementing EO 12898.

Environmental Justice (EJ) principles will be incorporated into Rural Development programs, activities, and services through existing requirements, primarily NEPA and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rural Development, to the greatest extent practicable, will consider environmental justice principles in its decision-making using its existing NEPA environmental review and Civil Rights Impact Analysis processes.

It is Rural Development policy to actively administer and monitor its decision-making process to ensure that nondiscrimination is an integral part of its programs, activities, and services. Rural Development programs, activities, and services that have the potential for a disproportionately high and adverse effect on human health or the environment should include explicit consideration of their effects on minority and low-income populations. Procedures are necessary to provide meaningful opportunities for public involvement by members of minority and low-income populations during the development of environmental review documents that include identification of potential effects, alternatives (if necessary), and mitigation measures to reduce any disproportionate effect on minority and low-income populations.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Poor In Toronto, Canada Disproportionately Polluted

A two-year research project by Toronto-based PollutionWatch shows that many of Toronto's poorest residents live near industries that emit the highest levels of toxic chemicals and pollutants into the air. The study, "An Examination of Pollution and Poverty in the Great Lakes Basin," is one of the most comprehensive examinations ever of an issue that has largely gone unnoticed in Canada.

Low-income families, many already facing diminished health from stress, bad nutrition, diabetes and poor dental care, are placed at further risk because they breathe air contaminated with pollutants suspected of causing cancer and reproductive disorders, say the authors of the report.

Monday, November 24, 2008

AB 32 EJ Advisory Committee Meeting December 2

Click on the public meeting agenda for the AB 32 Environmental Justice
Advisory Committee (EJAC).

The meeting will be held on December 2, 2008 from 10:00 a.m. to
4:00 p.m. (PDT) at the:

Ontario Convention Center
2000 E.
Convention Center Way
Ontario, California

Directions to the Ontario Convention Center

This meeting will be webcast and can be viewed the day of the

They recommend that you do not run other programs while viewing the
webcast, as it may interrupt or lower the quality of the signal.

For further information, please contact Johnnie Raymond at (916)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

EPA Environmental Justice Achievement Awards

Winners of EPA's first Environmental Achievement Awards include projects that empowered residents to clean up New Orleans East for a safe return after Hurricane Katrina and developed a tool to target high-risk homes with lead contamination in Durham, N.C.

Twelve award recipients include community-based organizations, universities, and state and local governments from nine states. These organizations are making a positive impact in their communities by promoting a clean and healthy environment. The awards recognize organizations for their distinguished accomplishments in addressing environmental justice issues. EPA received dozens of nominations from across the United States. More information.

The following organizations received awards:

1. Anahola Homesteaders Council (Anahola, Kauai, Hawaii)

2. Center for Environmental and Economic Justice (Biloxi, Miss.)

3. Citizens for Environmental Justice (Savannah, Ga.)

4. Communities for a Better Environment (Huntington Park,Calif.)

5. Dillard University, Deep South Center for EnvironmentalJustice (New Orleans)

6. Duke University, Children's Environmental Health Initiative(Durham, N.C.)

7. Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston, S.C.)

8. Negocio Verde Environmental Justice Task Force (County of SanDiego, Calif.)

9. New Mexico Environment Department (Santa Fe, N.M.)

10. Safer Pest Control Project (Chicago)

11. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (Columbia, S.C.)

12. West End Revitalization Association (Mebane, N.C.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Assistance for Disadvantaged Farmers & Ranchers

The Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Request for Applications has been released. Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grants ProgramThe Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grants Program (OASDFR) provides funds to organizations to conduct outreach and technical assistance to encourage and assist socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to own and operate farms and ranches and to participate in agricultural programs.

The OASDFR will support a wide range of outreach and assistance activities in farm management, financial management, marketing, application and bidding procedures, and other areas. The primary purpose of the OASDFR is to deliver outreach and technical assistance, to assure opportunities for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to successfully acquire, own, operate, and retain farms and ranches; and assure equitable participation in the full range of USDA programs. More informaton: OASDFR

Who Is Eligible to Apply * 1862 Land-Grant Institutions * 1890 Land-Grant Institutions * 1994 Land-Grant Institutions * Hispanic-Serving Institutions * Native American Tribal Govts (Federally Recognized) * Native American Tribal Orgs, not Federally recognized Tribal Governments * Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS status, other than Institutions of Higher Ed * Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS status, other than Institutions of Higher Ed * Other or Additional Information (See below) * State Controlled Institutions of Higher Ed.

More Information on Eligibility Postsecondary educational institutions and community-based organizations, networks, or coalitions of community-based organizations that meet certain criteria. Organizations that received funding under this section before Jan. 1, 1996 are also eligible. IMPORTANT! See RFA for specific eligibility requirements.

Contact Information: Dionne Toombs, Ph.D. National Program Leader Community Food and Nutrition Competitive Programs, CSREES, USDA Regular Mail (allow a minimum of 2 weeks for delivery):Mail Stop 22411400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-2241

Express Mail (for time sensitive information, use overnight delivery service):Waterfront Centre, Room 2416800 9th St., SW Washington, DC 20024 Telephone: 202-401-2138Fax: 202-401-6488 Email

CSREES' mission is to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well being, and communities.

Also: Geraldine Herring Special Outreach Program Manager USDA Office of Outreach Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

Friday, September 12, 2008

In Memoriam: Robert J. Knox

A Legend and Giant at EPA

Robert J. Knox was a founding Deputy Director and former Acting Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Justice(OEJ). Mr. Knox was an engineer by training and he began his career in Region 4 as a manpower development specialist working on water related issues. He moved to Region 2 where he led manpower and training programs.

In the early 1980s he served as the Director of the Office of Civil Rights. Thereafter, he was the Hazardous Waste Ombudsman for OSWER. When the Office of Environmental Justice was formed in 1992, he served as the founding Deputy Office Director with Dr. Clarice Gaylord, then OEJ Director. Bob spent his last 12 years in EPA working on community engagement activities. Bob retired from EPA in December 2004. In his retirement, he began taking coursework toward a masters degree from Howard University's School of Divinity. He was also a former deacon at the Gethsemane Baptist Church.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Meeting

The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) will meet in October.

Purpose: Discussions about differential impacts of climate change, environmental justice best practices, goods movement impacts on air quality, and other topics.

o Date: Tuesday, October 21 through Thursday, 23, 2008.

o Time: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day unless noted otherwise

o Public comment session:

+ Wednesday, October 22, 2008 from 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
+ Commenters must sign-up in advance or on-site to give comment
+ Comments limited to five minutes
+ Written comments also are encouraged

o Please pre-register

# Advance registration closes October 13. On- site registration starts October 21
# Contact: Ms. Julianne Pardi, ICF International
* Phone: (781) 676-4010 * Fax: (781) 676-4005
* Email:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Environmental Justice and DNA in Maryland

The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, Maryland NAACP, ACLU and the State Public Defenders Office are accusing Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's administration of reneging on safeguards in a new law that expands police powers to collect DNA samples from crime suspects. The conflict arises out of whether DNA samples are taken from any arrested suspect or from those formally charged for specific violent crimes. The critics say they specifically negotiated exclusion of general arrect suspects with Governor O'Malley before supporting the legislation. Now they feel betrayed. There is also concern about disposing of DNA once an arrested person is cleared. The critics want the samples expunged if charges are dropped or a suspect is cleared. The critics also believe the regulations do not give clear instructions on how to make sure the samples are removed from federal databases.

Specifically, the conflict focuses on a word because the regulations allow police to take a sample from an "arrestee," which they interpret as someone being booked but not charged. But the governor's office calls an "arrestee" a person against whom a written accusation of a crime has been made and believe it is at that point the law allows police to take a DNA sample. The regulations were issued last month and now police officers and state prosecutors are being trained to implement the new regulation. The law takes effect in January.

Although DNA testing is a very good crime-fighting tool that has also proven effective in exonerating innocent people, it seems clear that generally collecting samples from suspects when they are arrested is too intrusive and violates the civil liberties of those who are exonerated. The state's previous policy was to take samples for its database after convictions. The black caucus has called for legislative hearings on the regulations and vowed to press the administration to change them. (The Washington Post, 9/4/08)

Monday, August 18, 2008

National Black Chamber Says EJ Limits Minority Progress

Harry Alford, left, is president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) and he recently wrote an article in The Washington Informer entitled, "Environmental Justice: The New "White Man's Burden," where he states:

"Environmental justice is the biggest sham in modern day political leadership. It addresses "minority communities" and presents itself as the protector of them. Never mind about civil rights aka economic development, job creation and proactive policy. Environmental Justice seeks to limit progress in minority communities via inertia through excess regulation, bureaucracy and adverse policy in regards to infrastructure and economic progress. It acts like it is there to protect us from evil corporate America and young and new Black entrepreneurs. It demands to stop all industrial activity and progress that might cause another economic shift in the demographics of our communities."
Alford believes that environmental justice legislation in Congress will erode civil rights enforcement by shifting the focus from the Justice Department to the Environmental Protection Agency. The legislation was introduced by Representative Hilda Solis (H.R. 1103) and by Senators Dick Durbin (S. 642) and Hillary Clinton (S. 2549) and will codify the original Clinton Exectuve Order 12898 establishing environmental justice policies in the Executive Branch. Alford continues:

"This would put the Justice Department's responsibilities for civil rights enforcement further into the hole. It would shift to the Environmental Protection Agency. From the US Deparment of Justice (the laws of the land) to the EPA, a quasi agency for the environment and not civil rights, this is so counter to real civil rights enforcement. Our economic future will whither on the vine. Once again, they will order the Congressional Black Caucus to step aside and the Civil Rights Community to turn a blind eye and accept federal grants ("30 pieces of silver" ala Judas). The diversion is creating a formidable infrastructure if we allow this to go on. It's time for new leadership and a return to the tried and proven Civil Rights Act enforcement."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dana Alston: Remembering An Environmental Justice Heroine

The environmental justice movement will never be the same without Dana Alston, right. This powerful activist spoke truth to power and worked tirelessly for social and environmental justice. Dana was 47 years old when she died in 1999.

Dana Alston received a Bannerman Fellowship in 1992 in recognition of her leadership in the development of the environmental justice movement. The Bannerman Fellowship Program was founded in 1987 on the belief that the most effective approach to achieving progressive social change is by organizing low-income people at the grassroots level. In 2002, the Fellowship Program was renamed the Alston/Bannerman Fellowship Program in honor of Dana Alston. Dana died on August 7, 1999 at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Dana was a native of New York and lived in Washington, D.C. She was in San Francisco for treatment of kidney disease and consequences of a stroke when she died. Her beloved son, Khalil Alston-Cobb, resides in Washington, D.C.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Senator James Inhofe Offers Energy Justice Resolution

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, offered a Sense of the Senate resolution on Energy Justice during today’s Full Committee Business Meeting. The resolution, which was voted down by Democrats, urged that any “environmental justice policies” should only be considered in “the context of energy justice policies.”

Senator Inhofe’s Sense of the Senate revealed that “high energy prices are most burdensome on the poor and disadvantaged, and that opening access to increased energy supply and helping them to use less energy will lower energy prices for the poor and disadvantaged.”

Full Text of Senator Inhofe’s Sense of the Senate Resolution on “Energy Justice”:

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES—110th Congress, 2nd Session.

To expresses the Sense of the Senate that development and implementation of environmental justice policies must be considered within the context of energy justice policies, that high energy prices are most burdensome on the poor and disadvantaged, and that opening access to increased energy supply and helping them to use less energy will lower energy prices for the poor and disadvantaged.

Whereas environmental justice can be defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income within the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental policies and laws; and

Whereas energy justice can be defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income within the development, implementation, and enforcement of national energy policies and laws with the goal to promote affordable and abundant energy; and

Whereas environmental justice and energy justice are not mutually exclusive; and

Whereas the nation is currently in the grips of an energy crisis; and Whereas according to a recent survey by the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, 70 percent of households reduced food purchases, 30 percent reduced purchases of medicine, and 20 percent changed plans for either their own or their children’s education in order to cope with higher home energy and gasoline costs; and

Whereas America has ample supplies of oil, natural gas, coal, oil shale, uranium, and wind potential to meet our energy supply needs for the next century and beyond; and

Whereas drilling is currently prohibited by Congress on 85 percent of the nation’s outer continental shelf, which holds an estimated 14 billion barrels of recoverable oil or the equivalent of 25 years of imports from Saudi Arabia; and

Whereas commercial scale oil shale production is currently prohibited by Congress in the Green River Formation in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming with nearly two trillion potentially-recoverable barrels of oil which at current rates of consumption could yield enough energy to fully meet America’s oil needs for nearly 240 years; and

Whereas energy is the nation’s lifeblood, the mostly unseen but present force that powers our economic engine, creates opportunities, and improves living standards:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that –

(1) implementation of environmental justice policies must always be considered in context with energy justice; and

(2) affordable energy is the creator of economic opportunities; and

(3) lifting Congressional prohibitions and increasing access to America’s abundant energy supply will lower the price of energy for the nation’s poor and disadvantaged.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Harry Alford To Chair U.S. Chamber of Commerce Regulatory Affairs Committee

The US Chamber of Commerce has recently appointed Harry C. Alford, left, to Chairman of the Regulatory Affairs Committee. Harry Alford is president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. This committee overseas federal regulations and laws and seeks to make improvement from a business perspective when and where necessary. The Committee will provide Mr. Alford with staff for research and initiatives. The first two projects driven by Mr. Alford will be

1. A review of Section 3 of the HUD Act: What would be the economic impact in terms of jobs, contracting and the poverty level if the US Department of HUD would efficiently implement Section 3 (here) versus the current status?

2. Environmental Justice: A thorough analysis of Environmental Justice and how it should be applied to federal programs.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

EPA & Spelman College Host Sustainability Conference

Collegiate Environmental Sustainability Conference

Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia

October 23-24, 2008

Now more than ever, economic and environmental benefits are critical to the sustainability of institutions. Energy efficiency, indoor air quality, water conservation, smart land use and more are essential components for a healthier campus. Remodeling and building with sustainable materials to meet the needs of growing campuses are key to reducing the impact on the environment, health, and resources. Environmental decisions now affect us economically later.

Make the right environmental decisions: join EPA and Spelman College in learning the dollars and sense of Going Green. Learn about benefits, success stories and resources available for Colleges and Universities. The window of opportunity is now!

Click here to receive electronic updates and further conference information. Check back often, information will be updated as it becomes available! Sponsored By: US EPA Region 4 and Spelman College

Monday, June 23, 2008

Call For Papers

Environmental Justice, a new peer-reviewed quarterly journal under the direction of Editor-in-Chief Dr. Sylvia Hood Washington, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, was launched last month and the response to the inaugural issue has been very enthusiastic. We invite you to submit your best work to the Journal to be considered for publication. Manuscripts received by July 15, 2008 may be considered for inclusion in our second issue.

Read the first issue online

View the instructions for authors

Environmental Justice welcomes papers on:

1) The adverse health effects on populations that are most subject to health and environmental hazards
2) The protection of socially, politically, and economically marginalized communities from environmental health impacts and inequitable environmental burden
3) The prevention and resolution of harmful policies, projects, and developments and issues of compliance and enforcement, activism, and corrective actions
4) Multidisciplinary analysis, debate, and discussion of the impact of past and present public health responses to environmental threats, current and future environmental and urban planning policies, land use decisions, legal responses, and geopolitics
5) Past and contemporary environmental compliance and enforcement, activism, and corrective actions, environmental politics, environmental health disparities, environmental sociology, and environmental history
6) The connection between environmental remediation, economic empowerment, relocation of facilities that pose hazardous risk to health, selection of new locations for industrial facilities, and the relocation of communities
7) The complicated issues inherent in remediation, funding, relocation of facilities that pose hazardous risk to health, and selection for new locations

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Q & A at The State of EJ in America 2008 Conference

Many important environmental justice questions were addressed at the conference. Some of these questions included:

1) How can environmental justice and economic development co-exist?

2) How can we improve relations between communities and industry, communities and government, and government and industry?

3) What are examples of model environmental justice activities?

4) What have been the major accomplishments of the Executive Order on Environmental Justice?

5) Has the Executive Order improved matters in environmental justice communities?

6) Are the federal agencies committed to environmental justice?

7) Are businesses and industries committed to environmental justice?

8) What are the most significant environmental justice issues facing the country?


The Grand Opening Session: The State of Environmental Justice in America was held in the Moot Court at the Howard University School of Law. Conferees were welcomed by Dean Kurt L. Schmoke, Howard University School of Law.

The Moderator for the session was Timothy Fields, Jr. and panelists included: Sue Briggum, Harold Mitchell, Charles Lee, Bill Kovacs, Billy Reese Kee, and Velma Charles-Shannon, Closing remarks were given by Associate Dean Okianer Christian Dark, Howard University School of Law.

William Kovacs

Bill Kovacs, above, was a panelist for the Grand Opening Session: The State of Environmental Justice in America. Mr. Kovacs is the Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Planning Process

This is a very important conference in that it addresses issues and challenges from diverse views and varied interests. The planning process has been open to all. We have enjoyed the advice and support from numerous community groups, governments at all levels, private industry and the academic community. The planning committee was open to all.

The decisions were made in the open and subject to review by many. Democracy works best when people are allowed to state their views, have them respected and get a thoughtful response. That is how the planning was conducted and committee members are still speaking to each other.

National Small Town Alliance
Mayor Marilyn Murrell, Chair

Timothy Fields, Jr.

Tim Fields, above, was the moderator for the Grand Opening Session: The State of Environmental Justice in America. Mr. Fields is Senior Vice President, Tetra Tech Em Inc and former Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Special thanks to the Planning Committee for their commitment and participation in planning this conference. All participants and attendees owe the success of this conference to your dedication and support for environmental justice.

Billy Reese Kee, Chairman of the Board, Forgotten People

Chairman Billy Reese Kee, above, Chairman of the Board of the Forgotten People, was a presenter at the session on Tribal Perspective on Environmental Justice. He and Forgotten People consultant Marsha Monestersky presented environmental justice issues in the Navajo Nation. Stephen Etsitty, Director, Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency also presented the agency perspective on environmental justice.


Environmental justice requires fair treatment and meaningful involvement for all in environmental decisions and actions. Fair treatment and meaningful involvement are four words with plain and clear meanings when taken at face value. However, when combined into terms and applied to issues related to environmental actions, they assume different meanings in different quarters for different people.

SPECIAL SESSION: EJ at the U.S. Department of Energy

Michael Loya, Gerald Boyd, Michael Owen, James Woolford, Jeffrey Allison

Special Session - Environmental Justice at the U.S. Department of Energy: A New Strategy and Implementation Plan

Moderator: James Woolford, Director, Office of Superfund and Emergency Response, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


o Michael W. Owen, Director, Office of Legacy Management, U.S. Department of Energy
o Jeffrey M. Allison, Manager, Savannah River Operations Office, U.S. Department of Energy
o Gerald Boyd, Manager, Oak Ridge Operations Office, U.S. Department of Energy

Monday, June 2, 2008

U.S. Department of Energy Environmental Justice Strategy

On May 22, 2008 the U.S. Department of Energy announced its revised Environmental Justice Policy at The State of Environmental Justice in America 2008 Conference at the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.

Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman's message and the revised Environmental Justice Strategy may be found at DOE's Office of Legacy Management.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Conference Feedback, Pictures & Other Info Wanted

The 2008 conference was a complete success and we want to hear about it from participants and attendees. If you have pictures, please send them and they will be published on the blog. We will also be happy to give photo credits if requested. Feedback on the sessions would be greatly appreciated too.

Thank you in advance for your feedback and pictures. See the contact information at right.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Conference A Complete Success

This second annual conference is a complete success. Everything is running smoothly and conferees are enjoying the information workshops and the dynamic networking. The State of Environmental Justice in America Conference has now institutionalized the once a decade People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit. The State of EJ annual conference provides the perfect symbiosis of public and private sector evaluations of current environmental justice public policy issues with real world community problem solving.

Although there has been talk about establishing such a vehicle for annual oversight for years, John Rosenthall and the State of EJ in America Conference planning committee have actually implemented an institution that was highly recommended by environmental justice activists and government agencies. The conference brings together people who need to meet with each other at least once a year. Everyone seems to agree that relationships are renewed and innovative solutions contemplated during the four days of the State of EJ in America Conference. We do not know what will ultimately come from these annual conferences, but we do know that the creative genius of some of America's most talented individuals now has an outlet for expression.

Quentin Pair Hospitalized - Conferees Deeply Concerned




Quentin is in the intensive care unit at the Washington Hospital Center. Conferees prayed for his speedy recovery at a dinner at Beveridge and Diamond.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The State of Environmenal Justice In America 2008 Is Ready

Conference Coordinator John Rosenthall, right, says everything is ready for The State of Environmental Justice in America 2008 Conference. We expect an exciting week of discussions about the current status of green equity.

Attendees and participants will be treated to a wide variety of subjects and the latest information related to environmental justice. Forums will address local, national and international environmental justice issues. Federal, state and local government perspectives will be represented at the conference. Private sector, NGO, and institutions of higher learning will be involved with dissemination of up-to-date data, anecdotes, research and development descriptions in the sectors affected by the environmental justice issue. There are also informational displays. The Howard University School of Law is happy to serve as host site for the second year and welcomes all participants.

So relax and network at this second annual conference. The planning committee has devised a stimulating program and we hope you all enjoy your attendance.

Interview: John C. Cruden, Deputy Assistant Attorney General

John C. Cruden, left, serves as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. In that capacity, he is responsible for supervising a wide variety of environmental litigation, including civil enforcement actions in federal court for the key federal environmental statutes, including Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, RCRA, Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Superfund law.
2008 EJ Conference, Inc.: What is the mission of the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) in the U.S. Department of Justice?

Mr. Cruden: The primary mission of ENRD is: (1) to represent the United States in enforcing the nation’s environmental and natural resources laws; and (2) to defend federal agencies that carry out policies and programs to implement these and other laws. ENRD has a docket of well over 7,000 pending cases and matters, with litigation in every judicial district in the nation. We are responsible for cases arising from more than 70 different environmental and natural resources laws.

2008 EJ Conference, Inc.: How does ENRD incorporate EJ into its mission?

Mr. Cruden: ENRD’s commitment to fairness and consistency in adopting, applying and enforcing all laws includes our strong position that no community should be subject to environmental harms stemming from illegal activity.

2008 EJ Conference, Inc.: What is your role in the 2008 EJ Conference?

Mr. Cruden: I am scheduled to make a presentation during the Conference’s plenary session on Thursday, May 22 along with representatives from EPA and the US Department of Energy.

2008 EJ Conference, Inc.: What message would you like those attending the Conference to take home?

Mr. Cruden: As we have described, environmental justice is an important part of the mission of the Environment and Natural Resources Division in the Department of Justice. ENRD addresses environmental justice concerns in our cases - both enforcement and defensive - and assists other agencies and communities through the Interagency Working Group under the Executive Order.

Damu Smith

It has been two years since we lost this great environmental justice activist. Know that you are missed Damu. We need you now more than ever. (1952-2006)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Call for Environmental Justice Papers

The American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) intends to publish a themeissue that will feature current research and contributions ofenvironmental justice and community-based participatory research projects to the fields of environmental and occupational health. Key topics to be addressed include exposure assessment, especially as it relates to cumulative risk; environment-related diseases; communitybased approaches to improving exposure and disease surveillance for populations that are hard to track; and evaluation of partnerships designed to promote health research, education, and prevention/intervention programs for low-income, immigrant, and minority populations who may be disproportionately exposed to environmental and occupational stressors.

Research articles and briefs that address these issues and provideinnovative insights into the influence of economic and social factors on the health status of individuals exposed to environmental toxicants andoccupational hazards and their impact on public health will be considered. Papers that address novel models, approaches or theories on, but not limited to, capacity building; health communication strategiesthat consider culture, language, and literacy; policy change; andcommunity-based partnerships will be considered for Field Action Reports. Analytic essays on new research and communication strategies toaddress emerging environmental or occupational health problems will beconsidered for the Framing Health Matters; Government, Politics, andLaw; and Health Policy and Ethics forums. All manuscripts will undergothe standard peer review process by the AJPH editors and peer refereesas defined by AJPH policy. Submit manuscripts by August 1, 2008.

This special, on-line issue on Environmental Justice and Occupational Justice will be published electronically rather than physically. It will still undergo the same peer review rigor as any professional publication.The purpose of the special issue is to demonstrate the advancement of EJ and OJ since the early 1990s, and how projects in these areas have contributed to the fields of environmental health and occupational health. Hopefully, this special issue can serve as a means to clearly show the state of EJ and OJ. The submission date is August 1, 2008.
Questions - contact--Liam O'Fallon, NIEHS Liam R. O'Fallon Program Analyst Division of Extramural Research and Training National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences National Institutes of Health U.S. Department of Health and Human Services P.O. Box 12233 (MD EC-21)Research Triangle Park, NC 27709(T) 919.541.7733 (F) 919.316.4606 (E) (W) /science-education/Overnight Deliveries:79 TW Alexander Drive Bldg 4401, Room 3457 Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Partnership for Environmental Health and Asthma Campaign

Title: Partnership for Environmental Health and Asthma Campaign - The Community Coalition for Environmental Justice

Abstract: Formed in April 2006, The Partnership for Environmental Health and Asthma (PEHA) provided community-based environmental education projects for the Rainier Beach area in Seattle, Washington. PEHA is a south Seattle-based community group that spearheaded a No-Idling campaign to address air quality in our neighborhoods. The PEHA project is a campaign of The Community Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ). CCEJ is Seattle’s first environmental justice group. Convened by Black and Asian Pacific women in 1993 with support from a diverse group of organizations and individuals, CCEJ created a broad-based coalition that includes impacted residents, community activists, environmental groups, agencies and others to make environmental justice a major priority in Seattle.

CCEJ is a multi-issue, grassroots, multiethnic, nonprofit, 501 © 3 whose mission is to achieve environmental and economic justice in low-income communities and communities of color. CCEJ works to achieve our mission through grassroots organizing, direct action, policy advocacy and building community capacity to balance unequal distributions of power.

Secret Charles, MA
Toxic Beauty Outreach Specialist

Abstract: Building Community Capacity

Title: “Building Community Capacity through Environmental Education and Outreach Activities”

Abstract: Too many low income and underserved communities are impacted with environmental hazards, and community members are eager to understand what’s in their communities and how these hazards are connected to their health. The Environmental Justice Partnership (EJP) is a non-profit grassroots community organization which has evolved from being a research project to becoming a 501(c)(3) organization. The EJP’s mission is to build community capacity through conducting environmental education and outreach activities. These activities include venues like Chat & Chews, Toxic Tours, Community Research Advisory Boards, EJP Newsletters, EJP Day at the Market, Educational and Outreach Products developed with students from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and partnering with the Baltimore Region Environmental Justice in Transportation Project. These venues increase communities’ ability to become knowledgeable about environmental hazards while embracing true partnerships with researchers in all stages of the research planning, execution and dissemination of the findings.

Leon C. Purnell, President
Environmental Justice Partnership, Inc.
Baltimore, MD

Designing Chemical Safety Models for Community Organizations

Abstract Title: Designing Chemical Safety Models for Community-based Organizations

Overview: Katrina and 9/11 highlighted the importance of planning for and preventing accidental and intentional releases as well as limiting the impact of natural disasters on all populations, but especially low income communities. While few could predict a hurricane like Katrina or a terrorist attack like 9/11, one can assess risks and vulnerabilities in local communities and develop appropriate mitigating protocols and procedures to reduce human health and ecological impacts.

Objectives: Provide the environmental justice community with useful tools to reduce the risk of chemical exposure resulting from natural disasters as well as accidental and intentional releases into the environment. Offer tools for increased collaboration between community-based organizations, state and local preparedness officials, and business and industry.

Methods: Using the Computer-Aided Management of Emergency Operations (CAMEO) suite and standard exercise tools, we will demonstrate the location of facilities, populations and other receptors, and how to limit the impacts of releases. CAMEO is a suite of software applications used widely to plan for and respond to chemical emergencies. It was developed by EPA’s Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office (CEPPO) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Response and Restoration to assist front-line chemical emergency planners and responders. CAMEO can be used to access, store, and evaluate information critical for developing emergency plans. In addition, CAMEO supports regulatory compliance by helping users meet the chemical inventory reporting requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA, also known as SARA Title III) and Clean Air Act 112r.

Results: Provide attendees with useful tools to plan for, prevent and respond to chemical accidents and intentional releases.

Conclusions: Low income and minority populations can support and contribute to emergency preparedness consistent with ongoing environmental and public health planning exercises.

Deborah Brown, Chief, RCRA, EPCRA and Federal Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, Region I

Friday, May 2, 2008

Interview With Jeffrey M. Allison, Savannah River Project

Mr. Jeffrey M. Allison, left, was appointed Manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Operations Office (SR), Aiken, South Carolina, in March 2003. He is a career member of the Senior Executive Service with more than 24 years of experience in engineering, safety, health, process development, and management of DOE’s nuclear operations, including chemical processing facilities, and laboratories.

EJ Conference, Inc. What is the Savannah River Site (SRS)?

Mr. Allison: The SRS is a DOE Environmental Management (EM) program owned, 310-square mile site with about 11,000 employees and a $2 billion budget. SR’s current mission is to solve critical cleanup challenges with smart solutions; secure nuclear materials for safe consolidation, reuse or disposal; and transform the site for our nation's future. Today, SRS leads the DOE Complex in cleanup of the nuclear waste legacy, which is yielding important results for the site and the nation, such as:

Turning radioactive liquid waste to a solid, safe form;
Emptying and closing waste tanks with key support from regulators and the community;
Closing-in on completing the safe disposal of solid waste;
Protecting groundwater with early actions using unique technologies; and
Completing cleanup of large contaminated areas with smart approaches
EJ Conference, Inc. How has Environmental Justice (EJ) changed over the last 10 years at SRS?

Mr. Allison: Due to the culture during the Cold War era (1950s – 1980s), and the nature of our mission, SRS was under a shroud of secrecy for national defense reasons. However, in the mid 80s and after the Cold War ended, we began an active public outreach program to communicate the mission, vision, and goals. Given the many years of silence, SRS initially struggled to gain credibility and stakeholders’ trust. Continuing to broaden the EJ Program by collaborating with the Medical University of South Carolina and the National Small Town Alliance, has allowed us to communicate with more people.

National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee Meeting

The 2008 NEJAC Meeting is scheduled for June 10 - 12, 2008 at the Washington Court Hotel on Capital Hill, 525 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001.

The next meeting of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) will be used to discuss and receive comments about:

(1) strategies to identify, mitigate, and/or address the disproportionate burden on communities of air pollution resulting from goods movement activities; and

(2) key issues related to the integration of environmental justice considerations in EPA's programs, policies, and activities, including green business and sustainability, natinally-consistent EJ screening approaches, and development of a State EJ grant program.

The NEJAC meeting will convene on Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 1:00 p.m. and adjourn on Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. On Tuesday, June 10, 2008, members of the public will have an opportunity to provide comments about both topics during the public comment period. NEJAC was established to ensure that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) receives the viewpoints of diverse stakeholders on issues related to environmental justice. The NEJAC Executive Council consists of up to 26 members representing community groups; business and industry; state, local and tribal governments; and both environmental and nongovernmental organizations.

P UBLIC COMMENT: The Public Comment Period is scheduled for Tuesday evening, June 10, 2008 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. All speakers during the public comment period are limited to five minutes. To allow as many organizations as possible the opportunity to present their concerns, only one representative per organization should provide comments.

PRE-REGISTRATION: Please pre-register if you wish to attend the public meeting. There are three ways to pre-register, including: -- Pre-register online at -- Complete the pre-registration form, available at Once completed, return the form by: fax: (781) 676-4005 or mail: Ms. Julianne Pardi, ICF International, 33 Hayden Avenue, 3rd Floor, Lexington, MA 02421. -- Request a hardcopy form by calling the toll-free NEJAC information line at (866) 390-5178 or e-mail your request to Return the completed form by mail to the address above. If you have any questions, please call the toll-free NEJAC information line at (866) 390-5178 or e-mail at Individuals who require special arrangements can contact Ms. Julianne Pardi, ICF International by: telephone: (866) 390-5178, fax: (781) 676-4005, or e-mail

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Senate Passes Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

The Senate voted 95-0 to approve the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (H.R. 493), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information with respect to health insurance and employment. The legislation now goes back to the House, which passed in the House of Representatives on April 25, 2007 by a roll call vote of 420 Ayes, 3 Nays, 9 Present/Not Voting. President Bush supports the legislation.

Title I - Genetic Nondiscrimination in Health Insurance: (Excerpt) Prohibits a group health plan from requesting or requiring an individual or family member of an individual from undergoing a genetic test. Provides that such prohibition does not: (1) limit the authority of a health care professional to request an individual to undergo a genetic test; or (2) preclude a group health plan from obtaining or using the results of a genetic test in making a determination regarding payment. Requires the plan to request only the minimum amount of information necessary to accomplish the intended purpose.

Title II - Prohibiting Employment Discrimination on the Basis of Genetic Information: (Excerpt) Prohibits, as an unlawful employment practice, an employer, employment agency, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee from discriminating against an employee, individual, or member because of genetic information. Prohibits, as an unlawful employment practice, an employer, employment agency, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee from limiting, segregating, or classifying employees, individuals, or members because of genetic information in any way that would deprive or tend to deprive such individuals of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect their status as employees.

Jody Platt Garcia and Corey Turner from the University of Michigan and the Genetics Equity Network, did an excellent job of coordinating educational outreach and support for this legislation. GEN also provided testimony before Congress in support of the bill. (The Washington Post) (2006 Howard Univ Conference)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

EJ Conference 2008 Plugged on NPR on Earth Day

African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA) President Norris McDonald appeared on National Public Radio (NPR) on Earth Day (April 22) and discussed environmental and environmental justice issues. During the program he discussed the upcoming State of Environmental Justice in America Conference 2008.

The theme of the program was, "How Does 'Going Green' Impact Black America?" NPR writes:

"The environmental movement has become increasingly mainstream, but on this 38th anniversary of Earth Day, we take a look at how it affects African Americans. For people struggling to survive a tough economy, do they have time to care about being "green"? We get insight from Monique Harden, co-director of Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, and Norris McDonald, president of the African American Environmentalist Association."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Abstract: Household pesticides As An Environmental Justice Issue

Title: Household pesticides as an environmental justice issue: A review of the problem’s history and present policies and community action

Abstract: Health researchers have found evidence of class and racial disparities in household pesticide exposure since the late 1960s. Many explain these differences with reference to poor housing conditions, which force residents to choose between living with vermin and high levels of (often futile) chemical use. This paper traces the evolution of public policy and community action approaches to reducing indoor pesticide exposure. Residents have resisted spraying campaigns imposed by housing managers, but have also resorted to individual pesticide use. Recent lawsuits make the case that agencies such as Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency fall short of their duty to promote low-toxicity pest control methods. Activists have pressured housing agencies to involve residents in redesigning pest management campaigns and improve housing conditions overall. The paper argues that approaches which empower residents to take greater control of their housing conditions will produce the most sustainable and genuine results.

Dawn Biehler, University of British Columbia
Photo Courtesy The Early Show

Abstract: Arctic Contaminants Action Program

Title: “Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) Indigenous Peoples Community Action Initiative to Address Local Sources of Contamination in the U.S. and Adjacent Coastal Russian Arctic Communities”

Abstract: High levels of persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals have caused serious concern about health effects on the Arctic indigenous populations. These pollutants accumulate in the Arctic and are biomagnified in the food chain. Studies show that contaminants are found in alarming concentrations in the blood of indigenous peoples.

US EPA, Office of International Affairs, through the Arctic Contaminants Action Program, together with the Gwich’in Council International and Russian Association of Indigenous People of the North, developed an “Indigenous Peoples Community Action Initiative” to implement risks reduction measures associated with human exposure to contaminants, through management of toxic and hazardous wastes by the indigenous communities.

A focus of this Initiative is improving human health, training, information sharing and developing strategies for solutions through development of models to address environmental legacies at the community level. This paper discusses ongoing work in indigenous communities as model actions to achieve Environmental Justice.

Eleonora Barnes, EPA, OIA

Abstract: Artisanal Gold Mining in Senegal, West Africa

Title: Artisanal Gold Mining in Senegal, West Africa - The Reduction of Environmental Mercury Emissions Using Improved Technology and Training Office of International Affairs

Abstract: Approximately a quarter of the world’s gold supply comes from artisanal or small scale gold mining. It is also a significant source of mercury release into the environment in the developing world. Miners combine mercury with gold to form an amalgam. The amalgam is heated over an open flame to burn off the mercury, and gold is left at a purity of 70 to 80 percent. Mercury amalgamation results in 30% of the world’s anthropogenic mercury releases, affecting up to 15 million miners, including 4.5 million women and 600,000 children.

We are promoting the use of simple and cost-effective retorts to capture and reuse mercury during the mercury burn-off stage. The use of this technology will decrease the occupational exposure to mercury, its release into the environment, and its harm to communities and public health. This project was implemented in Senegal in 2006 to introduce miners to this retort technology.

Wendy M. Graham, EPA

Monday, April 14, 2008

Environmental Justice in Israel

Abstract Title: Environment, Planning and Society in Urban Space in Israel

The Environmental Justice Committee (EJC) was initiated 4 years ago by the umbrella organization of the environmental NGO's in Israel. The Environmental Justice Committee acts as conduit for social and environmental grassroots activities. EJC is also constructing environmental justice as a new thematic perception of environmentalism and developing it as a scientific discipline in Israel. The experience in the United States in the field of Environmental Justice is very relevant to the ability to promote Environmental Justice in different levels of activities (public, political, academic) in Israel.

Environmental Justice Report
(Issued at the Israeli parliament special event on the 6th of November).

Developed by Ms. Carmit Lubanov

The Environmental Justice Committee, Life & Environment and at Cohn Institute for History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas – Tel Aviv University (Link)

Abstract: Opportunities in the Nuclear Energy Industry

Abstract Title: Environmental Justice & Nuclear Power: Business Opportunities in the Nuclear Energy Industry

Abstract: The workshop will examine how African American businessmen and women can participate in the anticipated nuclear power plant construction renaissance. The workshop will bring together representatives from the nuclear power industry, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders interested in assuring that America will have the power it needs to satisfy our society. It will also describe how minorities can participate.

Blacks do not generally own companies that provide energy products and services, particularly in the nuclear power industry. Blacks do not own any of the energy infrastructure in the U.S. There are many reasons for this lack of participation, but one glaring reason is the very large amount of money needed to participate in an ownership capacity in the energy sector. This workshop will examine how companies could benefit by serving as mentors to minority entrepreneurs and investors. It will also show how minority entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders can be helpful in assuring the success of these huge investments. Such partnerships could bring fresh perspectives and unique opportunities to both partners.

America is poised to launch a renewal of nuclear power plant construction, which will involve billions of dollars for each plant. There are huge opportunities to participate in this renaissance if minority entrepreneurs and investors are aware of the products and services needed. Of course, it would also help to have contacts in companies that will be building new plants. There are also many ancillary opportunities because of the nature of the business. These include transportation of nuclear waste by truck, rail and barge, security, construction of casks for transport of spent fuel to Yucca Mountain, electricians, physicists, metal and concrete workers, plumbers, computers, electronics, and more.

The workshop will also examine potential constraints to participation and how these problems can be overcome. Although nuclear power is not normally included as providing green jobs, this workshop will clearly describe how this industry will be creating such employment and how it can be leveraged to create opportunities in other areas, such as emissions trading. Finally, the workshop will describe how these opportunities in the nuclear area can also complement new developments in conservation, efficiency, coal, carbon dioxide and transportation fuels.

Developed by Norris McDonald

Seattle Mayor Greg Nichols Issues Executive Order On Race

Seattle Mayor Gregory Nichols, right, issued Executive Order 05-08 on Inclusive Outreach and Public Engagement that directs City departments to perform outreach and public engagement in a manner that reflects the racial and cultural diversity of Seattle. The Executive Order directs City departments to develop a common approach to outreach and public engagement and coordinate implementation Citywide.

Executive Order 05-08 further directs the Seattle Office for Civil Rights and the Department of Neighborhoods to co-lead implementation of this policy. The Executive Order was issued on April 4, 2008.

The Inclusive Public Engagement Policy states that, "The City of Seattle is committed to ending institutional racism and creating a city that is enriched by its diverse cultures, with civic participation by all community members."

Inquiries regarding the Executive Order should be directed to the Race and Social Justice Initiative Manager in the Seattle Office for Civil Rights at (206) 684-4500.

Attachment A: Inclusive Public Engagement Policy

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Abstract: GIS Applications in EJ Research and Activism

Title: Workshop: Geographic Information Systems Applications in Environmental Justice Research and Activism

Abstract: Since the incipience of the modern Environmental Justice Movement, cartography and map interpretation have played significant roles. The 1983 U.S. General Accounting Office study “Siting of Hazardous Waste Landfills and Their Correlation with Racial and Economic Status of Surrounding Communities,” and the 1987United Church of Christ report “Toxic Waste and Race in the United States” were both largely based upon spatial analysis of the correlation between toxic hazards and geographic regions occupied by people of color groups.

The pivotal 1992 National Law Journal article “Unequal Protection” included regional demographic analyses to reveal that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had been posing much higher fines for polluters in “white areas” than for polluters in “minority areas.” Dueling applications of geographic information systems (GIS) maps were the focal point in the seminal “Select Steel Case” during the late 1990s at Flint, Michigan. The EPA Region V “Environmental Justice Assessment Process Flowchart” specifically mentions using GIS as a means to determine the status of “environmental justice communities.”

Drawing from over 20 years experience with GIS, the presenter will detail the evolution of GIS and geospatial technology from the beginnings of the movement to the present. Cases studies will be described in order to demonstrate effective applications of GIS-based approaches in environmental investigations. Options for making software available to grassroots organizations will be shared, in addition to the numerous mapping tools now available online to support environmental justice investigations. Opportunities for free and/or low-cost GIS training will be noted.

David A. Padgett, Associate Professor of Geography, Tennessee State University

Are Green Jobs The New Environmental Justice?

Recent conferences sponsored by traditional environmental groups and minority-led groups in Pittsburgh and Memphis have touted the coming of green jobs as a result of building solar and wind projects to mitigate global warming. Hopefully this will happen, but history says it will be an uphill climb. Unions joined with a couple of mainstream green groups in sponsoring one of the conferences, but none of the environmental groups are union. There is talk of mainstream green groups and environmental justice groups cooperating to create green jobs, but not even a handful of African Americans work as policy professionals at traditional environmental groups. One would think that would be a logical place to start in creating green jobs for low-income people and members of minority groups, particularly since their combined budgets total $6 billion annually.

Congress just passed The Green Jobs Act of 2007 this past December, but the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) had similar goals back in the 1970s. The presidential candidates are also chatting up 'green jobs' as the mechanism for solving the twin problems of low-income/minority job needs and global warming. In addition, renewable energy tax incentives were renewed by the Senate last week and now move to the House for consideration. Renewables will need all the help it can get because solar and wind currently generate much less than 1% of our nation's electricity needs. So hopefully the big corporations and the little entrepreneurs will get together and pump up renewables in the name of jobs creation and climate change mitigation. The economy is also heading south right now so any job creation will be a good thing. However, these should be real jobs that are produced for real people and not just inspirational rhetoric in the name of environmental justice, climate change and mainstream environmental group fundraising.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Abstract: Legal Session #1

Title: Community Benefits Agreements (CBA): Opportunity or Trap for Community Groups?

A community benefits agreement, or CBA, is a private contract between a developer and a community coalition that sets forth the benefits that the community will receive from the project. Common benefits include living wages, local hiring and training programs, affordable housing, environmental remediation and funds for community programs. CBAs ensure that development is equitable and benefits all members of the community, eventually contributing to stronger local economies, livable neighborhoods and increased public participation in the planning process.

While CBAs are strongly supported by many stakeholders, they are not always perfect vehicles to promote social justice issues. Practical problems from organizing large and diverse coalitions of community groups to negotiating with legally and politically sophisticated developers can make CBAs unwieldy tools in many cases. Moreover, CBAs have yet to stand the test of judicial review. This session will explore the opportunities and shortcomings of CBAs in more detail, providing examples of successful, and not-so-successful CBAs, and discussing some of the problems that may arise during the community organizing, negotiating and implementation phases. Finally, questions about the enforcement of CBAs and their legal validity will be addressed.

Patty Salkin Developed Session
Associate Dean and Director
Government Law Center of Albany Law School

Abstract: Brownfields/Benefits Session

Title: Restorative Environmental Justice: Assessing Brownfield Initiatives, Revitalization, And Community Economic Development In St. Petersburg, Florida.

Joseph W. Dorsey, Ph.D.

Abstract: Since the 1970s businesses have been leaving urban areas in order to build on cheaper real estate and/or to cluster in industrial parks. Many of these companies were polluting industries and their departure from previous locations, many times, left behind structures containing pollutants and hazardous waste in storage or in the local soil and water. These abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial or commercial facilities are called “brownfields.” It is likely that residents and wildlife living in close proximity to these contaminated sites may have suffered adverse environmental impacts.

Brownfield initiatives emerged from a movement seeking to reverse the tide of pollution production, inner city decay, and urban sprawl. Through brownfield redevelopment efforts across the nation, cities, such as St. Petersburg, Florida, are being rejuvenated by property owners who are divesting in their environmentally impaired assets and reinvesting in community economic development. Policies created by federal, state, and local governments are being implemented to clean up and recycle thousands of acres of contaminated property, create jobs, prevent pollution, and preserve green space.

Restorative Environmental Justice (REJ) as a concept highlights the ethical value of widening the scope of corporate organizational culture to include residential stakeholders. Restorative Environmental Justice taps into the recovery and re-distributive components of brownfield redevelopment. The notion of Restorative Environmental Justice provides opportunities for corporate decision-makers and public officials to rectify or ameliorate situations that disenfranchised or harmed particular communities in the past by investing in community redevelopment areas (CRAs).

This research paper will assess the current status of brownfield initiatives, urban revitalization, and community economic development in St. Petersburg, Florida as a case study with environmental policy implications for the State of Florida. Factors to be discussed include investments in enterprise zones, community redevelopment areas, new jobs, affordable housing, property ownership, the redistribution of resources to the poor, and raising the standard of living and the quality of life in disadvantaged neighborhoods in order to achieve some level of “restorative environmental justice.”

Joseph Bruss Developed Session

Friday, April 4, 2008

Forty Years Ago Today Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassinated


"Forty years ago today, America was robbed of one of history’s most consequential advocates for equality and civil rights. On this day, we mourn the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and we celebrate his powerful and eloquent message of justice and hope.

Dr. King was a man of courage and vision. He understood that love and compassion will always triumph over bitterness and hatred. His words and deeds inspired Americans of all races to confront prejudice and to work to ensure that our country is a land of opportunity for all its men and women.

We have made progress on Dr. King’s dream, yet the struggle is not over. Ensuring freedom and equality for all Americans remains one of our most important responsibilities. As we reflect upon Dr. King’s life and legacy, we must recommit ourselves to following his lasting example of service to others."

George W. Bush

Thursday, March 20, 2008

California EJ Movement Issues Climate Change Declaration

Several environmental justice groups have issed a 'Declaration Against Use of Carbon Trading Schemes to Address Climate Change.' The groups believe that such systems are inadequate to confront the climate crisis; marginalize front-line communities fighting environmental justice battles; and are designed to benefit corporate interests - not communities or the climate. Endorsing organizations include California Communities Against Toxics, California Environmental Rights Alliance, Carbon Trade Watch, Communities for a Better Environment, GreenAction, Rainforest Action Network, West County Toxics Coalition and many more.

Item #16 of 21 items in the Declaration states:

"[C]arbon trading is undemocratic because it allows entrenched polluters, market designers, and commodity traders to determine whether and where to reduce greenhouse gases and co-pollutant emissions without allowing impacted communities or governments to participate in those decisions."
The Declaration Resolves:

"that the California Environmental Justice Movement will oppose efforts by our state government to create a carbon trading and offset program, because such a program will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the pace called for by the international scientific community, it will not result in a shift to clean sustainable energy sources, it will support and enrich the state's worst polluters, it will fail to address the existing and future inequitable burden of pollution, it will deprive communities of the ability to protect and enhance their communities, and because if our state joins regional or international trading schemes it will further create incentives for carbon offset programs that harm communities in California, the region, the country, and developing nations around the world."

Environmental Justice Movement says NO to Carbon Trading!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation : Childhood Obesity

Call for Proposals: Active Living Research is a national program of the Robert Wood JohnsonFoundation (RWJF) and this call for proposals is the first to reflect a new emphasis on supporting research to inform policy and environmental strategies for increasing physical activity among children and adolescents, decreasing their sedentary behaviors and preventing obesity. Deadline: May 14, 2008

Findings are expected to advance RWJF's efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by2015. RWJF will place special emphasis on strategies with the potential to reach racial/ethnic populations and children living in low-income communities who are at highest risk for obesity. Proposed studies must address one of the topics identified in the call for proposals. Childhood Obesity: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Route 1 and College Road, EastPrinceton, NJ 08543.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The State of Environmenal Justice In America 2008

Conference planning is going very well. This conference will bring together individuals interested in environmental justice from diverse groups at this noteworthy juncture in the history of environmental justice, through a process of dialogue and learning from each other, to:
  1. Identify significant EJ success stories, strategies, and lessons learned, and how to replicate them.
  2. Identify potential collaborations that can produce additional strategies and success stories.
  3. Identify key dates and events in the history of environmental justice activities.
  4. Identify emerging issues in environmental justice.
  5. Develop an additional resource in Washington, DC for an annual environmental justice conference and other support to environmental justice efforts.
Expected outcomes:
  • Rigorous analysis and discussion of environmental justice issues from diverse points of view.
  • Better understanding of EJ successes and how to replicate them on the part of conference participants and other audiences (readers of conference related materials).
  • Stronger commitment to EJ from key groups, agencies, business and industry, academic institutions and other entities.
  • A comprehensive Conference Report including papers presented by conference panelists and others.
Projected audience:

The conference seeks to bring together federal employees, academics, business and industry, non-profit organizations, faith-based organizations, local community activists and others to participate in dialog on achieving equality of environmental protection. The conference will serve as an academic legal conference to advance scholarship regarding environmental justice. A related goal of this conference is to expose law students to the myriad and complicated aspects of environmental justice.