Friday, August 31, 2012

EPA Environmental Justice Community Outreach Call

September 20, 2012 at 5 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. In support of this priority, EPA invites environmental justice advocates to participate on the next Environmental Justice Community Outreach Call, which will take place on Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 5 p.m. ET.

The purpose of these 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. Listen to, or read about, previous calls.

EPA is  taking suggestions on agenda topics for the upcoming call. After receiving your suggestions, we will select the topic(s) that are of general concern to communities. Please keep in mind that the call will only last one hour, so the number of topics discussed will be limited. Submit a topic.

For more information about the Administrator's priorities

For more information about Plan EJ 2014

NEJAC Teleconference Meeting Sept 21, 2012

The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) will host a public teleconference meeting on Friday, September 21, 2012, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The primary topic of discussion will be an update from the NEJAC's Indigenous Peoples Work Group. This NEJAC public teleconference meeting is open to the public. There will be a public comment period from 2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Members of the public are encouraged to provide comments relevant to the topic of the meeting. Specifically, comments should respond to how best to:
  1. What activities and mechanisms should EPA conduct and develop to work collaboratively with indigenous community-based/grassroots organizations to identify and address environmental justice concerns?
  2. What organizational, regulatory, or policy hurdles exist that impede, complicate, or discourage tribal governments and indigenous organizations from effectively working together to address environmental and public health concerns.
  3. What are the recommended means and mechanisms for EPA to coordinate and collaborate with other federal agencies to effectively provide environmental justice for indigenous people?
To Register
  • By email: Send an email to with "Register for the NEJAC-September 2012, Teleconference" in the subject line. Please provide your name, organization, city and state, email 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, email address, and telephone number to 877-773-1489. Please specify which meeting you are registering to attend (e.g., NEJAC-September 2012 Teleconference). 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 Monday, September 17 deadline. Non-English speaking attendees wishing to arrange for a foreign language interpreter may also make appropriate arrangements using the email address or telephone/fax number.
Members of the public who wish to attend or to provide public comment must pre-register by 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Monday, September 17, 2012. Individuals or groups making remarks during the public comment period will be limited to five minutes. To accommodate the large number of people who want to address the NEJAC, only one representative of a community, organization, or group will be allowed to speak. The suggested format for written public comments is as follows: A brief description of the concern, and what you want the NEJAC to advise EPA to do; name of speaker; name of organization/community; city and state; and email address.

Written comments received by 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Monday, September 17, 2012, will be included in the materials distributed to the members of the NEJAC prior to the teleconference meeting. 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 877-773-1489.

Information about Services for Individuals with Disabilities:

For information about access or services for individuals with disabilities, please contact Ms. Estela Rosas, APEX Direct, Inc., at 877-773-1489 or via e-mail.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

EJ Implications of DC Stormwater Retention Program

In addition to evaluating stormwater retention, the DC Department of the Environment (DDOE) considered how the program might create or exacerbate stormwater pollution hotspots. For the purposes of this analysis, DDOE considered stormwater pollution hotspots to be parts of waterbodies with disproportionate stormwater pollution impacts, either in terms of erosive volumes or the pollutants in that volume. Several important points support DDOE’s conclusion that stormwater retention credits (SRC) trading is not likely to have a net negative impact, and may have a net positive impact, in terms of hotspots.
First, off-site retention will result in the installation of more BMPs retaining stormwater from developed areas that currently have little or no retention. In addition to providing more overall retention, as discussed above, the volume retained by these BMPs will be more heavily composed of first-flush volume. First-flush volume is the volume that washes off a site during the beginning of a rainstorm, and it tends to have higher concentrations of pollutants than the volume washing off at later points in the storm.

Second, with or without off-site retention, all regulated development sites in the District will achieve significantly more retention than is currently being achieved under the status quo (DDOE’s existing regulations do not require retention).

Third, the location of off-site retention BMPs is likely to provide more protection for the relatively vulnerable non-tidal tributaries to the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers and Rock Creek, as compared to strict on-site retention. DDOE assumes a typical off-site retention scenario would shift retention from regulated sites with high retention costs in the densely developed downtown to retrofit sites outside of the downtown core, where the cost of retention is significantly lower. These sites outside of the downtown core typically drain into the relatively vulnerable tributaries. By contrast, much of the District’s downtown core drains into the tidal Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. Because of their size and tidal mixing, these waters are generally less sensitive to erosive flow and localized pollutant impacts than the tributaries. In short, off-site retention is likely to result in a further increase in protection for the District’s tributaries (its most vulnerable waters), compared to strict on-site retention. 

DDOE also evaluated the potential impact of off-site retention in terms of Environmental Justice (EJ). DDOE does not expect a negative EJ impact and sees the potential for a positive EJ impact. For the reasons discussed above, DDOE expects that high-cost retention sites in the densely developed and relatively affluent parts of the downtown business district would be relatively likely to forego on-site retention in favor of purchasing SRCs from low-cost retrofit sites in less densely developed and less affluent areas. This could provide a net increase in the installation of aesthetically pleasing green infrastructure in less affluent parts of the District. In addition to these aesthetic benefits, these retention BMPs would provide more protection for the waterbodies in those communities, helping to make them better resources for community members.  (DDOE Proposed Regulations)

Monday, August 20, 2012

EPA Region 4 EJ Conference

EPA Region 4’s 2012 Southeast Regional Environmental Justice Conference theme was, “Promoting Environmental Justice through Effective Education, Collaboration, and Mobilization”


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4, Office of Environmental Justice hosted the Regional Environmental Conference on August 16-17, 2012. The conference was held at the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center in Atlanta, GA. The conference goals are:
  1. To develop tangible solutions to address environmental, health, and social impacts affecting communities with environmental justice concerns;
  2. To educate the attendees on the environmental, health, and social impacts affecting communities with environmental justice concerns; and
  3. To provide networking opportunities for environmental justice leaders and organizations.
Over 150 people, representative of all stakeholder groups, attended the conference and built relationships that will benefit their communities and promote sustainable growth. Workshops and sessions were led by experts in their field. Conference Schedule

This conference promoted environmental justice by:
  • Identifying the presence and impact of health problems in environmental justice communities;
  • Increasing stakeholder understanding of the public health impacts of unequal distribution of environmental pollution;
  • Helping stakeholders to identify their problems, develop and implement creative solutions and share project success stories;
  • Identifying tools and strategies environmental justice organizations can use to sustain themselves once federal and state funding have ceased;
  • Using environmental justice, within each state, as a theme to build partnerships with state and local government officials, community groups, academics, industry and others; and
  • Providing technical assistance, such as grant writing training, to help stakeholders advance their environmental justice efforts.
Although the federal government has taken measures to ensure environmental equality, an effective strategy must incorporate perspectives from a diverse group of impacted stakeholders. This conference promoted education, collaboration and mobilization among environmental justice community groups; environmental organizations; federal, state and local government officials; academic institutions; and other interested stakeholders to help us all better identify and implement solutions for communities that are most overburdened by environmental pollution.
Communities, States, Local Businesses, Colleges, and Universities in GA, AL, MS, TN, KY, FL, SC and NC

Alabama Department of Environmental Management
Cardno TBE
Center for Sustainable Communities
DIRTT Environmental Solutions
Emory University, Office of Sustainability Initiatives
Green Group Holdings
MDB, Inc.
Restoration Services, Inc.
Spelman College
U.S. Climate Action Network
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Secretary for Health
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dana Alston

Remembering An Envirnmental Justice Heroine

Dana Alston
Dana died on August 7, 1999 and the environmental justice movement will never be the same.  This EJ activist worked tirelessly for social and environmental justice. Dana was 47 years old when she died.

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 beloved son, Khalil Alston-Cobb, resides in Washington, D.C.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Is Fracking An Environmental Justice Issue?

Hydraulic fracturing may be one of the top environmental controversies of the moment -- but is it also an environmental justice problem?

It is one of the most high-profile questions facing the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and a debate that highlights the difficulty in drawing a clear line on what qualifies as an EJ issue.

Earlier this week, the council put the question to Nancy Stoner, U.S. EPA's acting assistant administrator for water. Her office recently released draft guidance on the extraction process, interpreting requirements for wells in which diesel fuel is used in fracking fluid.

Fracking affects the rural poor -- who qualify under the environmental justice definition of a community overburdened with environmental hazards. It is an issue of grave importance in a lot of rural areas to the rural poor and particularly people who rely on well water for their drinking water.  (E&E Publishing, 7/27/2012)

EPA EJ Hot Spots Mapping Tool

The U.S. EPA's "Plan EJ 2014" is a road map for incorporating the needs of poor, minority and overburdened communities in the government's day-to-day activities. Enter EJ Screen is an EPA mapping tool designed to help the agency spot pockets of people whose health has suffered disproportionally over the years because of environmental factors. The database uses census data, poverty levels, toxic emissions and documented pollution events to assign a score to 217,000 geographic "block groups" around the country. The program represents both the advances and the limitations of EPA's effort to bring clarity to the environmental justice effort.

EJ Screen overlays minority and low-income demographics on a map of 217,000 block groups, each having 500 to 5,000 people. (An alternative method under consideration includes additional demographic data including the percentage of people in a block group with less than a high school education, the percentage who speak English, and the number under the age of 5 and over the age of 64.)

EPA then puts that information over a map of environmental factors.  Among the 12 factors EPA has selected for its first version of EJ Screen is air pollution -- including ozone levels and soot from diesel exhaust and smokestacks. The agency also includes data on a community's proximity to environmental hazards including Superfund dumps, water discharge facilities, high traffic areas and buildings built before 1960 that have a high risk for lead paint.

The result is a graphic illustration showing each block group's ranking nationwide for each environmental factor. And the maps can also be used to show how block groups compare by state or by region when it comes to each factor.

But the maps are also limited, EPA. They don't, for example, combine all the environmental factors to show cumulative impacts. For instance, how does one scientifically weigh a person's proximity to a lead paint structure against exposure to particulate matter in the air?  (E&E Publishing, 7/27/2012)