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Environmental Justice

2010 March 1

How would you grade EPA’s role in addressing environmental justice issues in disadvantaged communities?

Administrator Jackson recently made expanding the conversation on environmentalism and working for environmental justice one of her top priorities. How do you feel about EPA’s current efforts toward working for environmental justice? Is EPA’s recent decision to conduct an environmental justice analysis of the Definition of Solid Waste rule a step in the right direction?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Richard King of Ekwok Village Council permalink
    March 4, 2010

    The federal government is suppose to protect native amercian rights. When primacy is given to the state of alaska those rights are not protected.

  2. John W. Schweizer, P.E. of T3W Business Solutions, Inc. permalink
    March 8, 2010

    From my vantage point as TA at the AMCO Chemical Superfund Site, I observe a great improvement in the EPA’s interest in environmental justice since the Obama administration came into office. This is very gratifying, because AMCO is located in a largely minority community in West Oakland; because of neglect prior to President Obama coming into office, and high concentrations of toxics that could affect the residents, the site had become a major EJ issue when I first became involved five years ago.
    EPA’s evaluation of the revised solid waste rule from an EJ perspective is proper and correct. Because of low margins, recycling facilities are likely to be located in poorer neighborhoods where land is cheap, and in proximity to the source of materials. In my view, the standards set by RCRA are even more important in these new operations so that history relative to solid waste disposal sites is not repeated for recycling operations. As disposal site operations consolidated into the major corporations that have the financial resources and incentive to properly manage their liabilities, many small abandoned operations in disadvantaged communities have had to be cleaned up at public expense. It is very important to have proper regulation of these recycling operations from the outset to prevent a further burden of polluted sites on lower-income communities.
    Some may argue that regulation will inhibit the advent of recycling. I would argue that this is a short term issue, and that sustainability will determine the economics of the future. Regulation now, to prevent the greater evil of increased burden on some communities, is in my view in the best long-term interest of all of us.

  3. Mathy Stanislaus of USEPA - OSWER permalink
    March 17, 2010

    Glad to have your input, John, and I’m pleased to hear that you feel that our environmental justice efforts are on the right track. It’s interesting to learn about the history of your site, and we’re determined to prevent the circumstances you describe from repeating. We stand to learn a great deal about the relationship between recycling facilities and minority communities through our EJ analysis of the Definition of Solid Waste rule – that’s one of the reasons why we’re conducting the analysis. We will also be considering both the short-term and long-term impacts of regulation, as you suggest. Thanks for your opinion.

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