Daily News Archive
From September 26, 2006                                                                                                        

Study Finds EPA Fails to Conduct Environmental Justice Reviews
(Beyond Pesticides, September 26, 2006) A report released by the Inspector General (IG), EPA Needs to Conduct Environmental Reviews of Its Programs, Policies and Activities, finds that senior management at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not directed program and regional offices to conduct environmental justice (EJ) reviews as required by the Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898. The report says; "Until these program and regional offices perform environmental justice reviews, the Agency cannot determine whether its programs cause disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority and low-income populations."

Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA) responded in a joint statement saying that the report shows the administration does not care about these populations. The lawmakers continued, "We will go to the mat on this. Simply put, EPA needs to start doing its job and end this national disgrace." Rep. Solis said that EPA and the Bush administration "must be held accountable."

A spokesman from Sen. Kerry’s office added, "What we learned from the IG's report is that EPA has failed to ensure that projects do not have disproportionate effects on low-income and minority populations. That's not political spin, it's the harsh realty of life under the Bush administration - unacceptable as that may be. And I think those policies are going to be questioned by a lot of voters as they head to the polls this November."

According to Inside EPA, this is the second IG report that is highly critical of the Agency's EJ efforts. In March 2004, IG released a report titled EPA Needs to Consistently Implement the Intent of the Executive Order on Environmental Justice. The report critized EPA for failing to fully implement Executive Order 12898 and stated that the Agency failed to consistently integrate environmental justice into its day-to-day operations. The report also specified that EPA had not identified minority and low-income populations addressed in the Executive Order, and had also neither defined nor developed criteria for determining disproportionately impacted. The Agency also failed to develop a clear vision or a comprehensive strategic plan, and had not established values, goals, expectations, and performance measurements.

Earlier this year in response to criticism, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson reaffirmed EPA's commitment to the issue and the Agency agreed to include EJ as a component in strategic planning. According to the Inside EPA report, EPA also accepted the IG’s recommendations and the Agency has 90 days to issue a formal response outlining steps it will take, including how it will implement the recommendations.

GET INVOLVED: This week a nationwide 47-city, town and village bus tour is seeking to bring attention to the environmental problems that many residents face within their communities. A coalition of over 70 environmental justice, social justice, public health, human rights and workers rights groups have launched the Environmental Justice for All Tour ’06, to highlight the on-going devastating impact of toxic contamination on people of color and poor communities across the US. The tour participants hope to protect their human rights by making the elimination of environmental hazards a priority in the November elections.