Friday, January 28, 2011

EPA's Jackson & Congressional Hispanic Caucus EJ Tour

EPA Administrator Jackson and Representatives from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Wrap Up Texas Visit with Focus on Environmental Justice

Two-day visit highlights EPA efforts to protect human health and facilitate clean energy innovation

Today U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and representatives from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus wrapped up a two-day trip to El Paso and San Antonio, Texas. The trip is a part of the administrator’s ongoing effort to highlight the benefits of clean energy innovation for all Americans and draw attention to environmental pollution’s disproportionate health impacts on poor and minority communities.

Administrator Jackson discussed the agency’s work safeguarding Americans from health threats like toxic air and water pollution and observed clean energy innovation in action. The administrator kicked off the trip on Thursday in El Paso, where she was joined by representatives from Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) member U.S. Representative Silvestre Reyes’ office. (Congressman Reyes was unable to attend after bad weather in Washington, D.C. grounded his flight)

The administrator started the visit with an on-site briefing on the cleanup of the former ASARCO smelting plant. After that she met with local leaders to talk specifically about water quality and access concerns. The administrator also hosted a forum on environmental justice issues at El Paso Community College on Thursday where she listened to and spoke with citizens about their environmental concerns and addressed the health and economic benefits of clean air and water for communities. Administrator Jackson also visited the El Paso Water Utilities Desalination Plant and Tech H2O Center, which is expanding El Paso’s access to clean water and creating jobs in the region. Today, the administrator was joined by CHC chair U.S.

Representative Charles Gonzalez in San Antonio for meetings with local community members, business leaders and students. She and Gonzalez toured St. Philips College, where they got a first-hand look at the college’s green jobs training program and sustainable power infrastructure efforts. Later, Administrator Jackson hosted a round table discussion on environmental justice issues with community members. She finished the Texas tour at St. Mary’s University where she hosted a student forum and answered questions about winning the future through investment in green job innovation and other major environmental issues.

Over the past several months, Administrator Jackson has visited a number of impacted communities across the country and met with local leaders and community members to discuss EPA’s work to address these environmental concerns. More information about EPA’s environmental justice efforts. (EPA)

EPA Seeks Applicants For EJ Grants

EPA Seeks Applicants for $1.2 Million in Environmental Justice Grants to Address Local Health and Environmental Issues

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting grant applications for $1.2 million in funding to support projects designed to research, educate, empower and enable communities to understand and address local health and environmental issues. Eligible applicants from non-profit, faith-based and tribal organizations working in the community of the proposed project are encouraged to apply.

Environmental Justice Small Grants funding is available for two categories of projects:

1) 40 grants of up to $25,000 each to support projects that address a community’s local environmental issues through collaborative partnerships, and;

2) Four grants of up to $50,000 each to gather better science on the environmental and health impacts of exposure to multiple sources of pollution in communities.

Environmental justice means the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income, in the environmental decision-making process. Environmental justice issues often involve multiple sources of contamination, like pollution from several industrial facilities within one neighborhood, environmental hazards at the workplace or home, or contamination resulting from the consumption of fish or other subsistence food.

Environmental contamination can lead to costly health risks and can discourage investments and development in low-income, minority, and indigenous communities disproportionately impacted by pollution. Understanding the impacts of multiple environmental risks can help communities develop more effective solutions to their environmental and health concerns.

More information on eligibility and how to apply

More information on the Environmental Justice Small Grant Program

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hazel M. Johnson Dies: Mother of Environmental Justice

Chicago South Side environmental activist Hazel M. Johnson, 75, died of complications from congestive heart failure Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011. Mrs. Johnson a longtime resident of Chicago's Altgeld Gardens public housing development, was spurred into environmental activism after her husband, John, died of lung cancer in 1969. She fought corporate polluters and rallied residents to protest contamination.

She founded a group called People for Community Recovery and put pressure on the Chicago Housing Authority to remove asbestos from Altgeld Gardens. Mrs. Johnson focused much of her organization's work on educating minority communities about urban environmental hazards. She became known as the mother of the environmental justice movement.

Mrs. Johnson was instrumental in convincing city health officials to test drinking water at Maryland Manor, a Far South Side neighborhood dependent on well water. After tests conducted in 1984 revealed cyanide and toxins in the water, officials installed water and sewer lines.

Her work in Chicago led to the national stage, where she joined a group of activists in urging President Bill Clinton to sign the Environmental Justice order. Ms. Johnson served on the U.S. EPA's first National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), established on September 30, 1993.

Altgeld Gardens:Life in a Toxic Enviroment from Jennifer T. Lacey on Vimeo.

Mrs. Johnson was the eldest of four children born in the area of New Orleans now known as "cancer alley." Johnson would spend most of her adult life in the Calumet Region, the industrial area along Lake Michigan's southern tip that is one of the nation's most polluted areas. Mrs. Johnson was preceded in death by her son Michael. In addition to her daughter, Cheryl Johnson, Mrs. Johnson is survived by two other daughters, Yolanda Johnson and Valerie Johnson; sons John Jr., Johnny and Mark; 10 grandchildren; and five great grandchildren.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, January 22, 2011 in St. Ailbe Catholic Church, 9015 S. Harper Ave., Chicago. (Chicago Tribune, 1/16/2011,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

DOE & HBCUs Collaborate on Laborotory Projects

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities encourages collaboration between government agencies, educational associations, philanthropic organizations, the private sector and others to increase the capacity of HBCUs to provide high-quality education to a greater number of students.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has partnered with HBCUs on a variety of projects. Secretary of the Department of Energy Stephen Chu has met with Dr. William Harvey, Chairman of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and President of Hampton University, as well as Langston University President JoAnn Haysbert and Morgan State University President David Wilson. They discussed how the Department can better engage HBCUs in science and laboratory projects, and what lessons can be learned from the many ongoing and successful partnerships we have in place.

Hampton University has a working relationship with the DOE's Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory. At Jefferson Lab, Hampton students have supported work conducted in the nuclear physics program. Now, Hampton is building on that partnership by working with Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Morgan State is a member of the Department’s Energy Innovation Hub team that is developing ways to make buildings more efficient. Specifically, the school is working on ways to adopt technology developed by the Hub so it can be used in urban centers like Baltimore.

Langston University has a partnership with the DOE, the Oklahoma Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, and others to explore the market for and the benefits of developing and purchasing wind generated power. Particularly, Langston is focused on developing wind energy as an alternative energy source that can promote rural economic development -- supporting farmers and other HBCUs.

The Department has awarded more than $31 million to HBCUs since 2009, including $22 million for research and development programs. These research dollars support initiatives at institutions including Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman College to build the capacity to develop clean energy technologies on campus and to conduct studies on energy usage. DOE has also provided internships, grants and scholarships to students at a number of Historically Black institutions.

More information about the Department’s work with HBCUs. (DOE Blog, 1/13/2011)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

EPA Grant Solicitation on Children's Environmental Health

EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection has announced the release of a solicitation for grant proposals to address children's environmental health in underserved communities by building capacity for these communities to reduce environmental exposures in child-occupied settings (e.g. homes, schools and child care centers).

Funds available for award are expected to total approximately $1.5 million, and EPA intends to award approximately 15-20 awards, each for an amount not to exceed $100,000. The due date for initial proposals is February 18, 2011.

Assistance under this competition is available to:

States or state agencies, territories, city or township governments, county governments, the District of Columbia, federally recognized American Indian Tribes, possessions of the U.S,
public and private universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, other public or private nonprofit institutions, and 501(c)(3) organizations.

For complete information regarding this Request for Initial Proposals.

U.S. EPA Community Involvement Training Conference

Call for Proposals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting presentation proposals for its 2011 Community Involvement Training Conference. The conference will be held in Crystal City, VA July 19-21, 2011. All presentation proposals are due by close of business Friday, February 18, 2011.

By participating as a presenter, you can help EPA achieve our goal to provide an exceptional conference that both informs and trains EPA staff as well as the agency’s local, state, federal, and tribal partners in best practices to enhance community involvement.

How to Submit a Presentation Proposal

If you are interested in submitting a proposal, please visit the conference web site.


Questions about the conference can be directed to:

Laura Knudsen
EPA Conference Co-Chair
Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Phone: 703-603-8861 Email:

Lee Harrigan
EPA Conference Co-Chair
Office of Water
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Phone: 202-566-1666 Email:

Catherine Sims
Community Involvement Conference Coordinator
Environmental Management Support
8601 Georgia Avenue
Suite 500
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: 301-589-5318 Fax: 301-589-8487 Email:

EPA EJ Community Outreach Call - Feb 3 at 3 p.m. ET

Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has made Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for Environmental Justice one of EPA’s top priorities. The purpose of the Quarterly Environmental Justice Community Outreach Calls is to provide information to participants about the Agency’s EJ activities and maintain an open dialogue with EJ advocates. As EPA continues to advance Plan EJ 2014, the Agency hopes that these calls will better inform the public about EPA’s EJ work and enhance opportunities to take advantage of federal activities.

EPA is taking suggestions on agenda topics for the upcoming call. After receiving your suggestions, they will select the topic(s) that are of general concern to communities. The call will last for an hour, so the number of topics discussed will be limited. Submit a topic.

On November 4, 2010, EPA held the last call where they discussed a variety of topics. For example, EPA provided EJ advocates with an update on Plan EJ 2014 and our Gulf Coast Outreach. EPA also provided information on topics that were raised, such as the Agency’s youth activities, air monitoring network and the White House Forum. Listen to the recordings. (EPA)

National Wildlife Federation’s Fair Climate National Summit

The National Wildlife Federation’s Fair Climate National Summit will bring together community leaders representing underserved communities from across the country to learn about the major priorities and challenges the nation faces in advancing clean air and clean energy to benefit all communities. Over a two-day gathering, leaders will learn about the known attacks that Congress plans to launch to roll back the Clean Air Act and EPA’s authority to regulate pollution, and how we can bridge movements and strengthen our advocacy skills to effectively advance a shared agenda.

The Summit will also provide a unique forum for leaders to meet, connect, and learn from each other as well as learn important skills such as lobbying, media outreach, capacity building, and social media in our round-robin workshops. Additional time is set aside on Day 2 for leaders to take their community concerns directly to lawmakers.

Register for the first annual Fair Climate Network National Summit to discuss and strategize on how our movement can most effectively protect the Clean Air Act.

Official Summit activities begin at 8:30AM on Monday, January 31st and end on Tuesday at 10:00AM, at which point attendees will depart for visits to their Congressmen.

Food and lodging will be provided for all attendees.

If you have any questions, please contact Katharine Pelzer or call at 202-797-6622.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

EPA Awards $7 Million For Social Stressor Study

EPA Awards $7 Million to Study Effects of Pollution Exposures and Social Stressors on Communities

Research grants aim to gather comprehensive community wide data on human health impacts

As part of the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) research grants program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $7 million to fund cumulative human health risk assessment research. Scientists around the country will study a combination of harmful factors affecting human health, including research on poor and underserved communities with extensive pollution-based problems. This ground-breaking research will focus on environments where people are exposed to multiple stressors such as chemicals, anxiety, and poor nutrition. When these stressors are combined, they can lead to a much higher risk of health issues.

This research could pave the way for more interdisciplinary work that is responsive to community concerns and environmental justice.

EPA studies are generally confined to single chemical effects. These studies are useful and important but can be difficult to apply to the combinations of chemicals people are exposed to outside the lab. These types of studies rarely address social and societal factors that can play a major role. The STAR grants will research both societal and environmental factors including:

· Combined effects of metals and stress on central nervous system function
· Disparities in air pollutant risks
· Effects of stress and traffic pollutants on childhood asthma
· Cumulative risk assessments in urban populations and low-income communities near a Superfund site
· Strategies for assessing cumulative effects of chemical and nonchemical stressors

EPA’s STAR grant program supports human health, ecology, economics and engineering sciences through grants, centers, and fellowships. The program manages research grants that stimulate cutting-edge research on life stage susceptibility, and investigate exposure assessment methods and environmental health disparities. To date, research results from the STAR program have translated into developing local and state policy, and have been used as guidance for clinicians, community advocates, and parents in creating safer, healthier environments. (EPA)

More information on the grant awards

More information on cumulative risks