Sunday, September 26, 2010

Making Environmental Justice a priority...again

The Obama administration finally got around to convening the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice. This group, established in 1994, had not met for almost a decade.  A Federal Advisory Committee, this group was a very important forum for EJ activists and others to gain the attention of federal decision makers.  I remember attending one meeting of the IWGEJ where residents from Mossville, Louisiana, made their case about dioxins and other chemicals in the air and water and related health issues facing their community and the adjacent chemical plants.  The EPA and other federal agencies were forced to respond and are continuing to address EJ concerns in Mossville.   This forum was also supposed to hold EPA and all agencies accountable to their mandate to develop policies and strategies for incorporating EJ analysis into agency decision-making.  Hopefully this meeting will show some real leadership to follow-through on the EPA's own Inspector General report from 2006, that revealed few if any EPA senior managers were directing their staff to conduct EJ reviews of federal policies, programs or projects.  Implementing this step alone could have a significant and lasting positive impact on urban health inequities in communities across the country.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for highlighting this effort. An important correction: The Federal Inter-Agency Working Group on Environmental Justice is NOT a federal advisory committee. Rather, the IWG was established in 1994 under Executive Order (EO) 12898 and is comprised of representatives of 11 federal agencies and several White House offices. The IWGEJ should not be confused with the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), which is a federal advisory committee charted to provide advice to EPA about environmental justice.

    Here is a link to information about the IWGEJ:

    Here is a link to information about the NEJAC: