Tuesday, October 18, 2011

EJ at the U.S. Department of Labor

The US Department of Labor (DOL or Department) has announced a renewed effort to achieve environmental justice (EJ). The Department views environmental justice from a workplace training, health and safety perspective. The Department is developing an environmental justice strategy that is in line with the mission of the Department and Secretary Solis' vision for the future: good jobs for everyone.

The vision of good jobs for everyone includes ensuring that workplaces are safe and healthy; helping workers who are in low-wage jobs or out of the labor market find a path into middle-class jobs; and helping middle-class families remain in the middle-class. The Department's environmental justice strategy focuses on agencies directly involved with worker training (the Employment Training Administration (ETA)), and health and safety issues (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

As DOL takes a fresh look at our EJ policies in order to strengthen the EJ process, they will be looking for ideas and feedback. DOL invites public comment for how they can address environmental justice through programs, policies, regulations or reporting requirements. The site for public comment will be open until November 18th. The Department will then review those comments. A strategy is planned in 2012.

The Department of Labor is committed to environmental justice. President Obama has renewed agencies' environmental justice planning by reinvigorating Executive Order 12898 (EO 12898), which tasked several Federal agencies with making environmental justice part of their mission. The agencies were directed to do so by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, the disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority and low-income populations.

In August 2011, agencies listed in EO 12898 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (EJ MOU), which, among other things, commits agencies to develop a final environmental justice strategy. So please join the conversation.

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