Environmental Justice Act of 2017

March 16, 2018

 

Dear Member of Congress:

The undersigned members of the Choose Clean Water Coalition and the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed urge you to cosponsor the Environmental Justice Act of 2017 (S. 1996/H.R. 4114). Together, our coalitions represent more than 350 organizations across the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the Delaware River watershed, which cover more than 77,000 square miles and are home to over 25 million residents across 7 states and the District of Columbia. 

 

This bill is essential to ensuring that the most burdened communities throughout the United States receive equitable access to clean air and clean water. For decades, our nation’s communities of color, indigenous, and low-income communities have experienced disproportionate negative environmental and human health impacts. Those living in marginalized communities continue to bear the burden of infrastructure, industrial, and commercial development, yet see few of the benefits. By living in proximity to hazardous sites, these communities face higher risk for exposure to toxic chemicals and associated health impacts like asthma and lead poisoning. The 1994 Executive Order on Environmental Justice (EO 12898) helped to focus federal attention on addressing these inequities, though many gaps remain to better protect all Americans. 

 

The Environmental Justice Act of 2017 would expand and codify EO 12989 including: strengthening coordination among federal agencies to eliminate adversities that promote environmental injustice; improving public access to information and participation in the federal decision making process; and codifying the Council on Environmental Quality’s guidance assisting federal agencies with their National Environmental Policy Act procedures that address environmental justice concerns. This bill would also require the consideration of cumulative impacts for permitting decisions under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, which would help improve the quality of life for communities in urban and rural areas within close proximity to superfund sites or areas with concentrations of polluting facilities.    This bill would additionally strengthen legal protections against environmental injustice. Communities throughout our watersheds, such as Baltimore, Camden, and Philadelphia could bring statutory claims for damages under common law and request injunctive relief for environmentally caused health crisis events that have severe impacts on children and future generations. Furthermore, this bill would restore the right for individuals to bring actions under the Civil Rights Act against entities engaging in discriminatory practices.   

 The improvements would benefit millions of residents in the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River watersheds by ensuring that all are protected from harmful and unnecessary exposure to pollutants in the environment. Thank you for reviewing this important request and please consider cosponsoring the Environmental Justice Act of 2017. 

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Action Together NEPA

American Littoral Society 

American Rivers

Aquashicola/Pohopoco Watershed Conservancy

Audubon Naturalist Society 

Audubon Pennsylvania

Baltimore Tree Trust

Basha Kill Area Association

Bertsch-Hokendauqua-Catasauqua Watershed Association

Blue Heron Environmental Network 

Brodhead Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Cacapon Institute 

Coalition for Smarter Growth 

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania

Darby Creek Valley Association

Delaware Highlands Conservancy

Delaware Nature Society

 Earth Forum of Howard County 

Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Environment New Jersey

 Friends for the Abbott Marshlands

Friends of Accotink Creek 

Friends of Cherry Valley Friends of Dyke Marsh 

Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek 

Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

Friends of the Upper Delaware River

Green Valleys Watershed Association

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake 

Isles, Inc.

Lakawanna River Conservation Association 

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association 

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania 

Lynnhaven River NOW

Maryland Conservation Council 

Maryland League of Conservation Voters 

Mattawomen Watershed Society 

Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers & Outdoor Partners

Musconetcong Watershed Association

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council 

New Jersey Audubon

New Jersey Conservation Foundation

New Jersey Highlands Coalition

New Jersey League of Conservation Voters

New Jersey Outdoor Alliance

New York League of Conservation Voters

Newtown Creek Coalition

PennFuture

Pennsylvania Council of Churches 

Pennsylvania Land Trust Association

Pennypack Ecological Trust

Piedmont Environmental Council 

Pinelands Preservation Alliance

Potomac Conservancy

Rachel Carson Council 

Severn River Association 

Shenandoah Valley Network 

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

 Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association 

Tobyhanna Creek/Tunkhannock Creek Watershed Association

Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, Inc.

Trash Free Maryland

Trout Unlimited

Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition

Urban Promise Ministries

Valley Creek Restoration Partnership

Virginia Conservation Network 

Waterkeepers Chesapeake 

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy 

West Virginia Rivers Coalition  

Western Pocono Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Willistown Conservation Trust