Senator Booker Announces The Environmental Justice Act of 2017

On October 23rd U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) was joined by local community leaders and advocates from across New Jersey and the nation in announcing a landmark bill that represents a major step toward eliminating environmental injustice.

This Bill would strengthen protections for communities of color, low-income communities and indigenous communities.

More specifically the Bill: 

  • Codifies and expands the 1994 Executive Order on Environmental Justice.

  • Codifies the existing National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) and environmental justice grant programs.

  • Establishes requirements for federal agencies to address environmental justice.

  • Requires consideration of cumulative impacts and persistent violations in federal or state permitting decisions under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.

  • Clarifies that communities impacted by events like the Flint water crisis may bring statutory claims for damages and common law claims in addition to requesting injunctive relief.

  • Reinstates a private right of action for discriminatory practices under the Civil Rights Act.

“For too long low income and communities of color in this country have suffered under the weight of cumulative, chronic and disproportionate pollution. This bill is a reminder of how critical it is to protect and restore these communities,” said Ana Baptista, Board Member, Ironbound Community Corporation.

“We must adopt substantive policies that will provide protections for communities Of Color and low-income communities from harmful pollution. This bill would help those communities and we hope everybody gives it the serious consideration it deserves,” said Dr. Nicky Sheats, Esq., New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance.

“As a Newark School Board member and a mother of 3 kids with asthma, it’s clear environmental justice is a civil right. In my city and so many other EJ communities, there’s too much lead in our drinking water, raw sewage in our waterways and diesel emissions sending kids to the ER. Those are the kind of cumulative impacts Senator Booker’s legislation takes on,” said Kim Gaddy, Clean Water Action’s Environmental Justice Organizing Director.

 

More information: https://www.booker.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=685

 

 

New! Webcast on Using EJScreen and the National Equity Atlas for Environmental Justice Analyses and more

Photo: Oregon State University
The EPA Office of Environmental Justice and the American Planning Association just released a Webcast that every EJ organization should check out.

It focuses on two great tools – the EPA EJSCREEN environmental justice screening and mapping tool; and the National Equity Atlas, a comprehensive data resource to track, measure, and make the case for inclusive growth, developed by PolicyLink and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE).

EJSCREEN is an easy-to-use mapping tool that shows and calculates indexes for environmental and demographic data, and can be used for EJ analyses of communities or entire cities.

The National Equity Atlas just added data that will be of great interest to Moving Forward Network members, the Air Pollution Exposure Index.  The National Equity Atlas tool can show air pollution in a city by race, ethnicity, and by poverty level; can compare two cities, show unequal burden, and much more.

Presenters are Sarah Treuhaft, Director of Equitable Growth Initiatives at PolicyLink, and Carlton Eley and Kevin Olp with the EPA Office of Environmental Justice.

Click below to watch the video.