Today, HUD and all federal agencies, under the leadership of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), released environmental justice strategies, implementation plans and progress reports, outlining steps agencies will take to protect communities facing greater health and environmental risks. The release of the environmental justice strategies is part of the Obama Administration's commitment to ensuring that all communities have the same degree of protection from environmental health hazards and have equal access to the federal decision-making process.
"Every American is entitled to a healthy environment where they can live, learn, and work. HUD's environmental justice efforts are making significant progress in areas like childhood lead poisoning, where we have reduced the number of children with lead poisoning by 75 percent over the last decade," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.
"HUD and the Council on Environmental Quality recognize that many of these health hazards are most prominent in older housing stock where many low-income communities live. When you choose a home, you do not just choose a home; you choose a community and how healthy and safe that community is," he added.
HUD's 2011 Environmental Justice Strategy responds to these challenges by expanding "geographies of opportunity" -- meaning that HUD expanded the definition of key terms such as "region" to be consistent with State definitions that in turn allowed larger urban and rural areas to be included in proposals for key initiatives such as Choice Neighborhoods and Sustainable Community Grants. In addition, through the Choice Neighborhoods initiative and the Sustainable Community Grants awarded in 2010 and 2011, HUD is helping to lay the foundation for healthy, inclusive, and more sustainable communities. HUD is helping create walkable neighborhoods with sidewalks, preserving and protecting parks and other open spaces, and helping metro regions reduce traffic congestion and commute times by developing comprehensive transportation and housing plans that bolster economic growth.
The public comment period for HUD's Draft Environmental Justice Strategy concluded on November 14, 2011. Public comments are currently being evaluated and analyzed.
The CEQ's release of the environmental justice strategies demonstrates the Obama Administration's commitment to working together with federal, state, and local partners to ensure that every neighborhood is vibrant and safe, and provides a healthy future for our children.