EPA takes Community Involvement Message To Puerto Rico

I recently returned from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where EPA had a strong presence. Our participation ranged from a “green chat”, a tree dedication, recruiters at the LULAC job fair, a forum on climate change, and, above all, Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s keynote address.

image of Administrator Jackson delivering keynote address at LULAC conferenceAs administrator Jackson highlighted, EPA is urging all communities “to broaden the idea of environmentalism.” She emphasized the need to ensure that “EPA and the environmental movement in general represent the full spectrum of voices and concerns from across the country.”

In addition to the events surrounding the LULAC convention, Administrator Jackson met with the Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño, to discuss many of the environmental challenges facing the islands of Puerto Rico. During their meeting at La Fortaleza, Administrator Jackson announced that the Agency was awarding nearly $72 million to Puerto Rico through the Recovery Act for improvements in wastewater and drinking water systems.

EPA’s community engagement in the islands of Puerto Rico goes well beyond its participation at the LULAC convention. EPA’s presence has greatly improved the conditions of the San Juan Estuary. Stakeholders representing the local government, academia, business, community and environmental groups have collaborated closely over the years to restore and manage that body of water and surrounding land. The collaboration has benefitted the environmental health of San Juan residents. Furthermore, the Agency continues to work closely with local universities to address environmental concerns, such as asthma, air and water quality, to name a few.

EPA’s collaboration with Hispanic organizations and community leaders continues to be a priority for the Agency. The Beyond Translation Initiative is a prime example of the Agency’s efforts to actively engage Hispanic community leaders in this new environmentalism. Stay tuned.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Task Force.  Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.