Wednesday, November 18, 2009

EPA Showcases Environmental Justice Communities

EPA has committed $1 million to an effort over the next two years to fund 10 selected Showcase Communities to use collaborative, community-based approaches to improve public health and the environment. EPA will provide $100,000 per project to help address concerns in communities disproportionately exposed to environmental risks. These demonstration projects will test and share information on different approaches to increase EPA’s ability to achieve environmental results in communities.

The following locations will serve as Environmental Justice Showcase Communities:

Bridgeport, Connecticut: EPA will build on work that has already taken place to develop community capacity and engagement, identify a broad network of partnerships, and connect with the goals of the city government.

Staten Island, New York: EPA will work with the North Shore of Staten Island, a former industrial community that now contains many abandoned, contaminated, and regulated properties along the waterfront. This neighborhood has seen an increase in the number of kids with elevated lead levels in their blood. EPA, in consultation with key communitymembers and state and local health agencies will develop acommunity-based health strategy for the area.

Washington, DC: EPA is building on its environmental justice work witha variety of partners, such as: the District Department of Environment; the District Department of Health; and, local recipients of Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving and Environmental Justice Small Grant awards.

Jacksonville, Florida: EPA will focus on improving environmental and public health outcomes in an area that consists of a predominantly low income and minority population. This area has a number of Superfund sites, brownfields, vacant and abandoned lots or other properties wherecontamination is suspected, and impacted waterways.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: EPA will work to further the redevelopment of the 30th Street Industrial Corridor. The corridor, a former rail line in thenorth-central part of the city, is home to low income communities ofcolor. This project seeks to improve the human, environmental and economic health of these neighborhoods by redeveloping brownfields alongthe corridor, implementing environmentally preferable storm watermanagement practices, and developing urban agriculture.

Port Arthur, Texas: EPA proposes a comprehensive, cross-media pilot project in Port Arthur, Texas, a racially and ethnically diversepopulation along the Gulf Coast of southeast Texas. This community was severely impacted as a result of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike.Through the EJ Showcase Project, EPA will work with partners tostrategically target additional work and supplement ongoing efforts.

Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas: EPA has identified 11neighborhoods in the metropolitan area that have many risk factorsincluding poor housing conditions and increased exposure toenvironmental hazards. EPA will conduct an assessment to identify specific sources of pollution and will work with neighborhood leaders toprioritize community concerns. Strategies to address these concerns willbe developed through these partnerships.

Salt Lake City, Utah: EPA has chosen six neighborhoods in central andwest Salt Lake City as the focus of a Children’s Environmental Healthand Environmental Justice initiative. The areas include Glendale, Jordan Meadows, Poplar Grove, Rose Park, State Fairpark and Westpointe. EPAselected the areas based on the presence of several environmental riskfactors and the community’s support and past participation in addressingenvironmental issues. The multi-agency initiative will seek to identifyand reduce children’s exposure to contaminants from multiple pathways.

Los Angeles, California: The densely populated communities closest to the I-710 freeway in Los Angeles County are severely impacted by pollution from goods movement and industrial activity. In a multi-year effort, a unique collaboration of federal, state and local governments and community organizations willwork together to improve the environmental and public health conditionsfor residents along this corridor. Partners will identify pollution sources of concern to the community, review agency data sources anddevelop action plans. One goal is to improve compliance withenvironmental laws by targeting inspections and enforcement at thestate, federal, and local levels to address community concerns.

Yakima, Washington: EPA will address multiple environmental home health stressors in the Latino and tribal communities in the Yakima Valley. Acoordinated effort between state, local, and non-profit partners will beused to address the range of exposures found in the community, with aprimary focus on reducing exposure through contaminated private well drinking water. This will be accomplished by assessing homes withcontaminated wells, providing “treatment at the tap” mitigation, andreducing pollution sources through available regulatory tools and bestmanagement practices.

Since 1994, EPA has provided more than $32 million in general funding to more than 1,100 community-based organizations.

More information on environmental justice and the Environmental Justice Showcase Communities

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