Senator Clinton Announces Bill to Step Up Federal Commitment to Environmental Justice
Leads First-Ever Senate Hearing on Environmental Justice
Ã¢ÂÂ Kicking off the first-ever Senate hearing on Environmental Justice,
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today announced that she will introduce
legislation to step up the Federal governmentÃ¢ÂÂs efforts to ensure
environmental justice. Senator Clinton convened todayÃ¢ÂÂs hearing as
Chair of the Environment and Public Works CommitteeÃ¢ÂÂs Subcommittee on
Superfund and Environmental Health. Emphasizing that the Bush
Administration has turned a blind eye to communities that continue to
be disproportionately impacted by exposure to environmental hazards,
Senator Clinton called for more accountability at the Environmental
Protection Agency and increased support for community-based efforts to
address environmental concerns.
Ã¢ÂÂToday, millions live in fear that the air in their neighborhoods is unsafe to breathe, the water unfit to drink, their home an unhealthy place to raise their children. Far too many Americans with lower incomes or from communities of color are confronted with higher levels of pollution, putting their children and families at risk. ItÃ¢ÂÂs separate, itÃ¢ÂÂs unequal, and itÃ¢ÂÂs wrong,Ã¢ÂÂ said Senator Clinton. Ã¢ÂÂWe must pressure the Bush Administration and do all we can to once again make fighting this inequity a priority for our nation.Ã¢ÂÂ
Senator ClintonÃ¢ÂÂs bill will:
- Increase Federal Accountability. Senator ClintonÃ¢ÂÂs bill will codify the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice to force more accountability government-wide to address cross-cutting environmental justice concerns, such as housing and transportation.
- Help Build Community Capacity. Senator ClintonÃ¢ÂÂs bill will establish a grant program to be administered by the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice to help build capacity in communities to engage on cross-cutting environmental work groups, building on a pilot program that started in the late 1990s under the Clinton Administration.
- Provide Access to Experts. Senator ClintonÃ¢ÂÂs bill will establish an environmental justice clearinghouse to help connect communities with technical experts to provide better tools to communities facing environmental justice problems.
Minority and low-income communities continue to be disproportionately impacted by exposure to environmental hazards. According to a recent report by the United Church of Christ, of the nine million Americans who live in communities with one or more hazardous waste facility, more than five million of them are people of color. In addition, a 2005 Associated Press analysis of EPA data noted that African Americans are 79 percent more likely than white populations to reside in neighborhoods where air pollution levels posed health risks. Hispanic and African-American children have lead poisoning rates 1.5 to 2.5 times higher than white children, and about half of the low-income housing in our nation is located within a mile of factories that report toxic emissions to the EPA.
The Clinton Administration issued an Executive Order in 1994 requiring the Federal Government to take action to address the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on minority and low-income populations, with the Environmental Protection Agency in the lead. Recent reports from the Government Accountability Office and the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency have raised serious concerns about EPAÃ¢ÂÂs current commitment to environmental justice and the Bush Administration has taken little action to address this problem.
Senator Clinton has been a leader in efforts to address environmental health hazards that disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities, working to combat child lead poisoning and reduce childhood asthma. She included a provision in the Brownfields law to target funding to communities that are experiencing a higher than normal incidence of diseases. Senator Clinton has introduced the Home Lead Safety Tax Credit Act to provide critically needed resources to reduce home lead hazards. She will also reintroduce the Family Asthma Act, which will improve our ability to examine the environmental pollutants that are linked to asthma and help improve patient management of diseases.
A transcript of Senator Clinton's opening remarks from today's hearing is below: