Working for Environmental Justice

By Lisa Garcia

The last few weeks have been busy for us at EPA. We hosted outreach events, launched tools, and are developing a strategy for how we can enhance our programs to better protect communities overburdened by pollution. It’s all part of our effort to expand the conversation on environmentalism and work for environmental justice. We’re reaching out for your help in shaping these efforts and want to work together to build healthy and prosperous communities.

We launched two important tools. The first, EPA’s EJ in Rulemaking Guidance is a tool that asks EPA staff to think about environmental justice at each step of our rulemaking process. The guide is part of EPA’s efforts to include environmental justice in every decision we make. You can also comment on this interim guidance. The second, EJView is a mapping tool that allows you to pick an area and choose the environmental, demographic, and health data you want to show on the map. It’s a way for you to get information about human and environmental health in your neighborhood, community, or region.

We’re working on Plan EJ 2014, which is a four-year plan that includes actions we’ll take to weave environmental justice into the fabric of EPA. We’ll work with stakeholders as we develop initiatives to empower communities to improve their local environment and encourage partnerships with local, state, tribal and federal organizations. We encourage you to read our plan and submit any suggestions you may have.

In our efforts to expand the conversation on environmentalism, we hosted three outreach events. The Youth Workshop on Environmental Justice focused on facilitating intergenerational engagement. Youth from the Washington, DC area brought their unique world view and energy to a day of learning about environmental justice and environmental job opportunities and developing the skills necessary to provide effective public comment. We also hosted a meeting, open to the public, of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC). The NEJAC’s mission is to provide EPA ideas and recommendations on how to most effectively meet the needs of communities working for environmental justice. And, finally, we hosted the first Community Outreach Conference Call, which will be held quarterly and is open to the public. The first call focused on our recent environmental justice achievements and provided an update on progress made since our spring environmental justice and science Symposium.

It has been a busy few weeks, but we are just getting started! Check out what we are doing and share your ideas at: http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice

About the Author: Lisa Garcia is the Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Environmental Justice

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