Clinton Welcomes Approval by Key Senate Committee of Her Legislation on Environmental Justice
Clinton Bill Addresses the Administration's Environmental Neglect of Minority and Low-Income Communities
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today welcomed approval by a key Senate committee of her legislation to step up the federal government's efforts to ensure environmental justice and address the disparate impact of environmental hazards on minority and low-income populations. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today approved Senator Clinton's Environmental Justice Renewal Act.
"For too long the Bush Administration has done too little to protect the air Americans breathe, the water families drink, and the neighborhoods where they raise their children. The burden of this inaction falls upon minority and low-income communities, which are exposed to unacceptable levels of pollution and environmental hazards. My legislation approved today will force the federal government - particularly the Environmental Protection Agency - to renew their commitment to environmental justice, and give communities the resources necessary to address their concerns. I welcome the committee's approval of this important measure and urge the Senate to pass it promptly," Senator Clinton said.
Senator Clinton introduced the Environmental Justice Renewal Act in 2007 and chaired the first-ever Senate hearing on Environmental Justice. The legislation will:
* Increase Federal Accountability. Senator Clinton's 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 Clinton's bill will expand current programs and establish new grants to improve training and build capacity in communities to engage in multiagency, cross-cutting partnerships to address environmental justice concerns.
* Provide Access to Experts. Senator Clinton's 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 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. Unfortunately, reports from the Government Accountability Office and the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency have raised serious concerns about the EPA's 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 and the Lead Education, Abatement and Poisoning Prevention Acts to provide critically needed resources to reduce home and community lead hazards. She has also reintroduced 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.