Kerry Legislation Would Protect Minority and Low-Income Communities from Toxins, Pollution
Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) said today that legislation introduced this week will prevent the nations most vulnerable communities from bearing a disproportionate share of the country's environmental hazards. Kerry, who co-sponsored the bill, said it would be an important step forward in efforts to improve the health of minority communities, who nationally are more likely to suffer from asthma or other respiratory illnesses linked to air pollution.
"For way too long in our country, African Americans and other minority communities have shouldered most of the toxic burden in this country. They are more likely to live near landfills, incinerators or factories that often spew poisons into the air. It's unjust and unconscionable and we are going to do something about it. Our legislation would work to reverse that by forcing the EPA to protect these communities."
Among other things, the Environmental Justice Act of 2007 would fully implement a 1994 Executive Order, which was written to ensure that all federal agencies are protecting our nation's most vulnerable communities. It requires the Environmental Protection Agency to fully implement recommendations included in three recent government reports and creates reporting requirements, including an update on the inclusion of environmental justice in the EPA's emergency command response structure.
The Environmental Justice Act of 2007 is endorsed by more than 15 organizations, including the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, Communities for a Better Environment, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University, Natural Resources Defense Council, Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, Beyond Pesticides, the National Hispanic Environmental Council, the National Small Town Alliance, the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, and Earthjustice.