EPA to conduct goods movement pilot projects with MFN member Harambee House & others

Since its inception, the Moving Forward Network (MFN) has worked to advance environmental justice as a priority within the EPA and other agencies.  Thanks to the hard work of the network and its members to bring together community organizing, media, and science, we have seen some great advances by the EPA, including a stated intent in the EJ 2020 plan and elsewhere to reduce goods movement air pollution and improve public health in overburdened communities.

Among the initiatives in which our members are involved is a project by the EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) to develop a series of guides intended to help port communities build capacity and for ports and port communities to engage and reduce air pollution  – the Ports Primer, Community Action Roadmap, and Environmental Justice Primer.

The guides are now in draft, and the EPA has selected three organizations or partnerships with which to test and refine the guides, enhance community skills, develop action plans, and address community needs.  Among those selected is an MFN member, Harambee House, Inc. of Savannah, Georgia.  

The MFN and its members have been effective in moving the agency when we organize, and are willing to collaborate and work with the EPA when it furthers our agenda of protecting overburdened communities.

To review the draft guides and learn more about these projects, see the following, received last week from the EPA:

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Draft EPA plans indicate increased focus on freight transportation air pollution and public health

Image: East Bay Express http://goo.gl/9yJb6H

Freight transportation hubs such as ports and rail yards may be America’s biggest “black hole” in terms of environmental health, but that might change in the future.

Owners of most polluting facilities, such as power plants, petrochemical facilities, and factories have at least some limits placed on their ability to pollute the air their neighbors breathe, and in many cases, the EPA has taken action to improve regulations and oversight.

But most efforts to address goods movement public health have been less direct and less effective, at least in the short term. While the EPA has worked to require cleaner engines in locomotives and trucks, subsidize engine upgrades in sensitive locations, promote and assist in voluntary efforts, and in other ways, these efforts have not kept pace with the challenges facing overburdened port and rail yard communities.

Fortunately for the over thirteen million Americans who live in these neighborhoods and the tens of millions who live along highway freight corridors, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been listening to overburdened communities, and is developing plans that may improve the lives of millions of people.

Yesterday, the EPA took steps to inform the public of two important draft plans that may bring relief to these communities and others, and to get public feedback.

First, EPA held a webinar on the final draft of the agency’s Environmental Justice (EJ) strategic plan.  Second, the agency released new draft guidance for incorporating environmental justice into regulatory analyses.  A summary of each follows:

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