McEachin, Jayapal and Diaz Barragán Introduce Environmental Justice Bill Package

June 5, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), along with his fellow co-chairs of the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force, Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), introduced a package of Environmental Justice bills to fight the impact of climate change.

The effects of climate change disproportionately burden communities of color, low-income families, and other marginalized groups. Even as the country moves toward a renewable energy economy that ensures safe land, water and air for everyone in our country, these communities continue to face higher rates of carbon pollution and health disparities at a disproportionate rate.

“We must act to remedy both the short- and long-term effects that environmental injustice has on communities of color, low-income families and other marginalized groups. I am proud to join my co-chairs to introduce this legislative package that will emphasize community-based solutions to create a healthier environment now and reduce the impacts on those most adversely impacted,” said Congressman McEachin.

This package of bills is aimed at tackling these issues head-on by supporting community-based solutions and implementing environmental justice principles.  

“When it comes to higher rates of asthma, dangerous air pollutants, adverse health and even death at the hands of climate change, communities of color and people living on low incomes are paying a disproportionate price. Yet the Trump administration has erroneously proposed slashing funding for critical environmental justice programs,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “From the pollution in the Duwamish River in my own district to the ongoing water crisis in Flint, this environmental justice package of bills begins to right the wrongs placed on frontline communities for generations. These bills prioritize the protection of people in both red and blue states and aim to position clean air, clean water and social justice at the center of the climate fight.”

“Now more than ever, it is critical that we triple our efforts to protect our communities who bear a disproportionate burden from potential and existing environmental threats. The federal government has been working on environmental justice issues since at least 1992 when then-President George H.W. Bush created a White House office dedicated to environmental equity. We must continue bipartisan efforts to address climate change and environmental injustices. Everyone regardless of zip code, color, or salary, deserves clean air and clean water.  These bills help us move in that direction,” said Congresswoman Diaz Barragán

The first bill, the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program Act of 2017, would officially establish the Office of Environmental Justice at the Environmental Protection Agency. It would also codify the Environmental Justice Small Grants program, setting the appropriated amount to $16 million per year.

The second bill, the Executive Office of Environmental Justice Act of 2017, creates the Office of Environmental Justice within the Executive Office of the President. The director of the office would be tasked with conducting environmental justice assessments of executive orders, doing community and stakeholder outreach and assessing the progress made on implementing environmental justice policies at the following agencies: Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Labor, Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, Department of Justice, Department of the Interior, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of the Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, National Economic Council, and the Council of Economic Advisors.

The third piece of legislation is the Environmental Justice resolution offered by Rep. McEachin. The resolution highlights the importance of environmental justice. The environmental justice movement has been underway for decades and its emphasis on community-based solutions has driven its work on a sustainable path. This resolution reaffirms the vital importance of clean air, clean water, resource conservation, economically vibrant and socially just communities and other policy goals. The resolution affirms our commitment to ameliorating existing environmental injustices and to preventing future injustices by supporting greater objectivity, transparency and outreach in policymaking at all levels of government.

In April, McEachin, Diaz Barragán and Jayapal formed the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Congressional Task Force, comprised of members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. The group aims to address the disproportionate impact of climate change and other environmental harms on communities of color, low-income families and other marginalized groups. Compared to their white, non-Hispanic counterparts, communities of color have higher exposure rates to air pollution; people of color are almost twice as likely as white residents to live near industrial facilities that contribute to air pollution; and studies have found that low-income communities of color have limited access to clean water.


Contact: Jamitress Bowden
(202) 225-6365