In 2016, we have an opportunity to commemorate and celebrate some important environmental justice milestones and work on finishing other struggles. The Flint water crisis unfolding today provides a textbook case for why we must build justice and equal protection into environmental decision making. It’s time to stand with communities endangered by environmental injustice and the principle of profit over people. Let’s make 2016 the year of justice.
Houston environmental activist Juan Parras is the 2015 recipient of the Sierra Club Robert D. Bullard Environmental Justice Award. Since 2006, Mr. Parras has led Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services or T.e.j.a.s, Houston lone Latino environmental justice organization, in its quest for health, justice and sustainability in Houston’s most environmentally challenged communities.
The U.S. EPA held a public hearing in Region 6 to get comments on its new proposed updates to emissions standards for refineries and impact on fenceline communities. The hearing was held in Galena Park, Texas, a refinery community located just east of Houston.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 will conduct an Environmental Justice Training Workshop in Houston on August 6-8 for local leaders in the Houston Metro region. The three-day workshop is co-sponsored by Houston-based Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Service (T.E.J.A.S.) and the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University.
Houston will be hosting three important environmental justice events during the first week of August. All of the meetings will address the disproportionate location of industrial polluting facilities and toxic dumping on low-income and people of color communities and the potential health effects. The Houston “petropolis” (with its no-zoning policy) provides a perfect case study for examining how environmental decision making over the years—with the absence of an equity and justice lens—placed low-wealth and people of color neighborhoods on the frontline of environmental assault and thus exposed them to elevated health risks. The Environmental Justice Movement has set a course to reverse and correct these past mistakes and prevent them from happening in the future.
In writing a couple of articles and a report for Black History Month and the 20-year commemoration of the Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898, I had an opportunity to read a lot of papers, reports and articles. Here are my “Top 10” picks that deal with environment, health and social inequality.
It has now been twenty years since President Bill Clinton signed the Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations.” The Executive Order has survived three presidents. Although it has never been fully implemented, there are some positive signs at the executive level that environmental justice is back on the federal radar.
This Tuesday February 11 will mark the twentieth anniversary of the Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898 signed by President Bill Clinton. Environmental justice leaders from all across the country will commemorate the historic signing of the Executive Order with mixed emotions. A team of researcher at Texas Southern University will release a new report, “Environmental Justice Timeline and Milestones, 1964-2014,” that tracks the Environmental Justice Movement over the past five decades, beginning with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The vast majority of environmental justice leaders two decades ago preferred to have environmental justice codified in law. However, that did not happen. They recognize the Environmental Justice Movement did not start with the Executive Order nor was it driven by government action. The 20-year commemoration is a time for grassroots-led movement leaders to reflect on how far they have come and where they are going.
Jacqui Patterson, Director of the NAACP Environmental Justice Climate Program, is the featured keynote speaker at the 2014 Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University Black History Month Lecture Series (Thursday February 27, 2014 6:30pm. – 114 McCoy Auditorium, Public Affairs Building, Houston, Texas).
Following the aftermath of the April 2013 ammonium nitrate explosion in West, Texas that killed 15 people, injured another 160 persons, and damaged or destroyed more than 150 buildings, President Obama signed Executive Order 13650 (EO). The EO outlines measures that can be taken by the federal government utilizing existing regulatory authority to enhance safety and security in coordination with chemical facility owners and operators.