Monday, August 23, 2010

California EPA & Health Hazard Office Issue Impacts Report

The California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) are announcing the availability of a draft report entitled, “Cumulative Impacts: Building a Scientific Foundation.” The report presents scientific evidence for cumulative impacts, a framework for a new screening methodology for use by the Cal/EPA boards and departments, and next steps in the implementation of the framework.

Two public meetings related to the Agency’s Cumulative Impacts and Precautionary Approaches (CI/PA) project and the draft report will be held on September 2, 2010. The meetings will be held in the Sierra Hearing Room of the Cal/EPA Headquarters Building at 1001 I Street in Sacramento.

In a morning workshop, the public is invited to discuss, provide comments, and ask questions concerning the report. In the afternoon, the CI/PA Work Group will discuss and provide comment on the draft report.

Cal/EPA and OEHHA are committed to public participation throughout this process and seek to ensure that all relevant information is considered. For those wishing to provide comment on the draft document, comments may be submitted until September 16, 2010.

Cal/EPA and OEHHA will consider all comments and make revisions as appropriate before releasing the final report. In order to be considered, Cal/EPA and OEHHA request that comments be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 16, 2010. They encourage you to submit comments in electronic form, rather than in paper form. Comments can be transmitted via e-mail. Comments submitted in paper form may be mailed, faxed, or delivered in person to the addresses below:

Mailing Address: Ms. Jocelyn Suero, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment1515 Clay St., Suite 1600 Oakland, CA 94612Fax: (510) 622-3211 (OEHHA)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Condolences to Samara Swanston and Family

Dawn Finnigan, left, the 39 year old daughter of Samara Swanston, passed away from an asthma attack on Thursday, August 12, 2010. Dawn was laid to rest on Thursday, August 19, 2010 at Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens, New York. A touching Eulogy was provided by Samara Swanston at Roy Gilmore's Funeral Home in St. Albans, New York. A memorial service was also held the next day in Albany, New York, where Dawn Finnigen lived.

Dawn Finnigan was born to Barry Toland Finnigan and Samara Swanston on Nobember 26, 1970. Dawn obtained a beauticians license at the age of eighteen, worked at beauty salons in New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Albany and managed a Manhattan Supercuts for two years before going on to own her own beauty salon, "The Beautiful Ones." After ten years in the beauty field, she developed occupational asthma and was advised by her doctor to change fields. She went on to teach hairdressing and styling and barber skills at the Austin Education School in Albany while she pursued her Associate Degree. She became the Dean of the Evening School and ultimately wrote the curriculum for the school. Most recently, she created the first Natural Hair curriculum for women of color at the school and her curriculum was just approved by the State Department of Education.

Dawn was on her way to an old school rap concert when she had trouble breathing and succumbed to asthma.

Dawn's mother, Samara Swanston, is a well-known environmentalist and is counsel for the New York City Council Committee on Environmental Protection.

Friday, August 20, 2010

EPA Objects to Keystone XL Pipeline on EJ Grounds

The Environmental Protection Agency is expressing concern about the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, designed to bring crude oil extracted from tar sands in western Canada to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur. EPA believes the pipeline doesn't adequately evaluate potential health impacts on minority communities near the Port Arthur refinery where some of the crude would be processed. A large minority population lives close by several refineries, chemical plants and a waste incinerator. Port Arthur was flagged as one of 10 sites with particular "environmental justice" issues. EPA is focusing on potential clean-air risks to Port Arthur residents raised by the Canadian oil.

The Carver Terrace housing project is within sight of the Motiva refinery, which is in the midst of an expansion that will make it one of the world's largest once the work is done in 2012. The refinery is one of four possible destinations in Port Arthur for the crude from the pipeline proposed by the Canadian energy company Trans­Canada Corp. Regulators have approved two segments of the 2,000-mile pipeline, known as Keystone XL. The Texas and Oklahoma portion remains under review, as does a stretch from Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska.

The U.S. State Department, which issues permits for cross-border pipelines, concluded recently that the project would cause "limited adverse environmental impacts" if TransCanada follows its plans and the law. In response, the EPA raised several concerns, including the potential impacts to Port Arthur residents, who may be exposed to greater risks from the emissions of the refineries receiving the Canadian oil. (Chron, 8/18/2010, Chron, 8/15/2010)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

NEJAC National Public Teleconference Meeting

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Nat'l Public Teleconference Meeting

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) will host a public teleconference meeting on Thursday, August 26, 2010, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The primary topics of discussion will be EPA’s charge to the NEJAC on incorporating Environmental Justice into the permitting process and EPA’s Plan EJ 2014.There will be a public comment period from 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

To Register

By E-mail: Send an e-mail with “Register for the August NEJAC Teleconference” in the Subject line. Please provide your name, organization, city and state, e-mail address, and telephone number for future follow-up.

By Phone or Fax: Send a fax (please print), or leave a voice message, with your name, organization, city and state, e-mail, and telephone number to 877-773-0779. Please remember to specify which meeting you are registering to attend (e.g. NEJAC-August meeting). Please also state whether you would like to be put on the list to provide public comment, and whether you are submitting written comments before the August 23rd deadline.

Members of the public who wish to attend or to provide public comment must pre-register by 11 a.m. Eastern Time Monday, August 23, 2010. Individuals or groups making remarks during the public comment period will be limited to a total time of five minutes. Only one representative of a community, organization or group will be allowed to speak. Written comments can also be submitted for the record. The suggested format for written public comments is as follows:

Name of Speaker,
Name of Organization/Community,
City and State,
Telephone Number,
E-mail address,
a Brief Description of the Concern, and
What You Want the NEJAC to do.

Written comments received by 11 a.m. Eastern Time, Monday, August 23, 2010, will be included in the materials distributed to the members of the NEJAC. Written comments received after that time will be provided to the NEJAC as time allows.
All written comments should be sent to EPA’s support contractor, APEX Direct, Inc., via e-mail or fax at (877) 773-0779.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Joint Center Climate Change Forum at CBC Conference

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (Joint Center) is hosting a forum themed, "Critical Issues in Climate Change Symposium," a special day-long symposium on climate change during the 2010 Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. The symposium will take place on Friday, September 17 in Washington, DC. Sessions will explore connecting environmental justice with science, policy and practice; how smart growth can scale up equity in transportation, housing and other related areas; and stimulating trade, investment, technology transfer and development between the U.S. and Africa. The symposium is hosted by the Commission to Engage African Americans on Climate Change in commemoration of the Joint Center's 40th Anniversary.

Opening Plenary 7:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.Walter E. Washington Convention Center 801 Mount Vernon Place, NWRoom 146-C Washington, DC 20001

Main Symposium 1:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.Renaissance Washington, DC, Downtown Hotel 999 Ninth Street, NW West Ballroom, Washington, DC 20001
7:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. SESSION I Connecting Environmental Policies and Practices to Protect Our Places, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Room 146-C

Problems related to environmental justice are expected to exacerbate the detrimental effects of climate change within vulnerable communities, spotlighting the need for the science of climate change to be more closely connected with environmental law enforcement in disproportionately burdened communities.

1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. SESSION II Designing Resilience: How Smart Growth Can Scale Up EquityRenaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel, West Ballroom

Through its long experience in enhancing civic and political leadership, the Joint Center supports the empowerment of people of color to participate in land use decisions and planning as a means of achieving equity within and across communities on the front lines of the environmental justice movement. Through regional development and interagency collaboration, the movement to pursue "triple-bottom line" (revenue, social, and environmental) interests through smart growth holds the potential for solutions that address the unique issues facing African Americans in urban, rural and suburban areas. This session aims to debunk the "Green versus Jobs" myth by describing how regional and cross-sectoral approaches to development that pursue equity through transportation, housing and economic growth can revitalize communities in the present while mitigating the effects of climate change in the future.

3:15 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. SESSION III Stimulating Trade, Investment, Technology Transfer and Development: Making the Case for U.S. and Africa Energy Partnership Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel, West Ballroom

Our dependence on fossil fuel combustion for energy has significantly increased global carbon emission levels, but without corresponding investment in less environmentally harmful renewable energy technology. Accordingly, populations with limited resources not only lose revenue but also suffer from lost opportunities. Given the untapped potential to expand energy infrastructure in African nations and improve energy capacity among low-income African Americans, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies realizes the significance of information sharing through partnerships in order to convey best practices and harness the collective power of these communities.

5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. VIP RECEPTION 40 Years of Research ~ Empowerment ~ Engagement Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel, West Ballroom Foyer

Celebrate, network and discuss innovative ways to generate an abundance of opportunities for all Americans to learn, achieve happiness and live their dreams.

Register online or call (202) 789-3519

Monday, August 9, 2010

EPA Announces $200,000 in Gulf Coast EJ Grants

EPA Announces $200,000 in Environmental Justice Grants to Support Communities Directly Affected by BP Oil Spill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is accepting proposals for up to eight $25,000 cooperative agreements to support the protection of human health and the environment in communities affected by the BP oil spill. Local incorporated non-profit community-based organizations—including faith based organizations and those affiliated with religious institutions, environmental justice networks, and local Native American tribal governments—located and working in areas within affected states, are eligible to apply.

EPA developed the grant program after meeting with local organizations in the Gulf Region and learning that there was a need for technical assistance to support educational outreach to communities affected by the BP oil spill. The grants will provide funding to help develop educational materials on what seafood is safe to eat, what to do if exposed to oil, and how to address and adapt to the spill’s long-term effects. Providing grant funding directly to local organizations will help to ensure that information is distributed through trusted networks of communication and from organizations that will continue to support efforts to rebuild in the wake of disaster.

Organizations that are able to provide accurate and current information to a wide geographic area in the affected region are encouraged to apply by September 13, 2010.

To read the request for proposals (RFP) and for information on how to apply

Remembering Environmental Justice Legend Dana Alston

Dana Alston was 47 years old when she died 11 years ago on August 7, 1999.

Dana Alston, left, was a leader of the original environmental justice movement that started in the 1980's. She was one of the organizers of the first National Environmental Justice Leadership Summit in 1992. She participated in the meetings to convince the U.S. EPA to open an Office of Environmental Justice. She was a committed environmental justice activist and the movement clearly benefited from her leadership. We remember you Dana. And we will never forget you.

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 son, Khalil Alston-Cobb, now 17, resides in Clinton, Maryland. He is (or was at 16) a skateboard enthusiast (see videos). Here is how Khalil describes himself on his MySpace page:

"I like Skateboarding, Playing videogames, listening to music, talking to Gurls, surfing the Web, and Chillin wit the Homies."
Khalil is also on Twitter. He has a great skateboarding video on He is listed on Children of the Struggle. Dana would be very proud of her teenage son. All who knew her are not surprised that Khalil is an energetic and productive young man.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

EJRC Finds BP Oil Waste Going To Minority Communities

Recent findings by the Environmental Justice Resource Center (EJRC) indicate that minority communities are receiving most of the landfill-directed waste oil from the BP Oil disaster. BP’s waste plan, “Recovered Oil/Waste Management Plan Houma Incident Command,” was approved on June 13, 2010. BP hired private contractors to dispose of thousands of tons of polluted sand, crude-coated boom and refuse that washed ashore. The nine approved Gulf Coast solid waste landfills, amount of waste disposed, and the percent minority residents living within a one-mile radius of the facilities are listed below:


Chastang Landfill, Mount Vernon, AL, 6008 tons (56.2%) Magnolia Landfill, Summerdale, AL, 5,966 tons (11.5%)


Springhill Regional Landfill, Campbellton, FL, 14,228 ton (76.0%)


Colonial Landfill, Ascension Parish, LA, 7,729 (34.7%) Jefferson Parish Sanitary Landfill, Avondale, LA, 225 tons (51.7%) Jefferson Davis Parish Landfill, Welsh, LA, 182 tons (19.2%) River Birch Landfill, Avondale, LA, 1,406 (53.2%) Tide Water Landfill, Venice, LA, 2,204 tons (93.6%)


Pecan Grove Landfill, Harrison, MS, 1,509 tons (12.5%)

According to BP’s Oil Spill Waste Summary, as of of July 15, more than 39,448 tons of oil garbage had been disposed at nine approved landfills in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. More than half (five out of nine) of the landfills receiving BP oil-spill solid waste are located in communities where people of color comprise a majority of residents living within near the waste facilities. In addition, a significantly large share of the BP oil-spill waste, 24,071 tons out of 39,448 tons (61 percent), is dumped in people of color communities. (Dissident Voice, 7/29/2010)

Friday, August 6, 2010

EJView Mapping Tool Now Available

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s mapping tool, EJView, is now publicly available. EJView is designed to allow users to choose and map demographic, environmental, and health data.

EJView is an upgrade to the Environmental Justice Geographic Assessment Tool (EJGAT). It includes the same functionality as EJGAT, but is now faster and easier to use.

More information about EJView

To start using the tool

Thursday, August 5, 2010

PEER Critical of EPA on Environmental Justice Guidance

The Press Release below is from the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility


Convoluted Guidance Paralyzes Decisions as Priority Pollution Efforts Ebb

Washington, DC - Rather than directly confront environmental justice challenges, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued internal guidance that is so convoluted and vague that it will stymie effective action, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). At the same time, EPA is allowing affirmative approaches to relieving the air pollution burden on the urban poor to languish.

In late July, EPA released its "Interim Guidance on Considering Environmental Justice During the Development of An Action" which proclaims that it "empowers decision-makers" to "integrate EJ [environmental justice] into the fabric of EPA's" actions. The actual guidance, however, lays out a stultifying multi-step process steeped in terms that seem designed to encourage inaction. For example, a flow-chart maps out 29 possible steps for "incorporating environmental justice" including sphinx-like admonitions such as -

"Identify whether EJ concerns have been addressed. Be prepared to answer 3 core questions." and

"If applicable, address outreach, consider highlighting EJ options for comment, and address significant EJ issues in Action Memo."

"This new guidance imprisons environmental justice inside a bureaucratic Rubik's Cube that will confound even the most ardent EPA employee," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting Administrator Lisa Jackson has declared environmental justice one of her priority issues.

"This continues the pattern at EPA on environmental justice of putting process over substance."

By contrast, this June the EPA Office of Inspector General slammed EPA for a decade-long failure to implement national urban air toxics control plans, designed to alleviate a major public health threat to the nation's urban centers with concentrations of disadvantaged populations. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 required EPA to develop a strategy to reduce air toxics emissions in urban areas, particularly from small stationary sources. While the agency was required to issue new urban emissions standards in 2000 for these smaller local sources, such as cars, dry cleaners and gas stations, EPA failed to follow through. Yet EPA figures show acute risks from these local sources - potentially causing cancer in one in 28,000 Americans with two million residents in areas where the lifetime risk was one in 10,000 or greater.

"Why can't EPA make direct action to reduce the pollution load on urban poor a priority?" asked Ruch, decrying the lack of concrete results from EPA environmental justice efforts. "What good is a rhetorical commitment to environmental justice if our poorest citizens remain disproportionately exposed to toxins by virtue of where they live?"

Follow (if you can) the 29 simple steps for "Incorporating Environmental Justice" at EPA

Read the draft EPA Environmental Justice Guidance

Look at the 2010 Inspector General report on urban air toxics

See how bureaucracy trumps environmental justice at EPA

Contact: Kate Hornyan (202) 265-7337