THE PRESIDENT’S AGENDA AND THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY
November 2011 [Nov 9 Conference]
The President’s Commitment to African American Families
“For centuries, African American men and women have persevered to enrich our national life and bend the arc of history toward justice. From resolute Revolutionary War soldiers fighting for liberty to the hardworking students of today reaching for horizons their ancestors could have only imagined, African Americans have strengthened our Nation by leading reforms, overcoming obstacles and breaking down barriers” – President Obama, February 1, 2011
In too many American communities, minority families shoulder a disproportionate burden of pollution in the places where they live, work and learn. These disparities result in health challenges like asthma and heart disease and end up turning away job creators looking for attractive, healthy places to set up their businesses. In 2009, about 2,380,000 African Americans reported that they currently have asthma and African American women were 30 percent more likely to have asthma than white women. The President is committed to addressing those disparities and ensuring that all communities have the opportunity to enjoy the health and economic benefits of a clean environment and has begun to lay the ground work for achieving environmental justice for all Americans in a number of ways:
Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice. After a decade of inaction, in September 2010, the Obama Administration reconvened the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice, to ensure that federal agencies are working together as never before to tackle this persistent challenge and provide all Americans with strong federal protection from environmental and health hazards.
White House Environmental Justice Forum. In December 2010, at the White House Environmental Justice Forum, Cabinet Secretaries and other senior Administration officials met with more than 100 environmental justice leaders from across the country to engage advocates on issues affecting their communities, including reducing air pollution, addressing health disparities, and capitalizing on emerging clean energy job opportunities. This was a first-of-its kind forum and an opportunity to have an honest dialogue about opportunities and challenges to achieving environmental justice in communities across the country.
Memorandum of Understanding. Reflecting the dialogue, concerns and commitments made at the forum and other public events, in August of this year, 17 federal leaders signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice and Executive Order 12898 (MOU). This MOU better defines and broadens the mission of the EJ IWG and commits each agency to develop an environmental justice strategy. These strategies, which will be finalized in early 2012, will serve as a road map that will help integrate environmental justice into the programs agencies run, the policies they make, and the activities they engage in.
(The White House)