Chair Grijalva, Rep. McEachin Launch Historic Effort to Draft Environmental Justice Bill Based on Public Feedback at Environmental Justice Convening

Washington D.C. – Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) hosted a historic all-day environmental justice convening in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, featuring an interactive tool allowing advocates from around the country to weigh in on the principles underlying a forthcoming bill to protect their communities’ legal rights. The unprecedented event brought national policymakers, environmental leaders and local advocates together to begin a dialogue on the future of the environmental justice movement, discuss challenges and policy priorities for frontline communities, and build connections going forward. 

During an afternoon panel, Grijalva and McEachin heard directly from community members about the inequities and environmental oppression that politically marginalized communities continue to face. Grijalva has declared his intention to introduce a wide-ranging environmental justice bill – based on principles drafted with the input of groups in attendance and others expected to join the effort – before the end of this year.

Community members can review the proposed principles, submit feedback and participate in the process at https://democrats-naturalresources.house.gov/environmental-justice.

“Regardless of color, culture, origin or income, every American should enjoy equal access to a healthy environment to live, learn and work,” Chair Grijalva said. “The convening was a crucial moment to come together and lift the voices of communities impacted by oppressive and racist policies. They’re too often the only ones not at the table when those policies are made, and I’m honored to have Rep. McEachin’s steadfast partnership as we bring them into the discussion. We’re excited to have the partnership and energy of the environmental justice community in drafting our legislation to right these injustices. This week’s event is just the beginning.”

“I am humbled and honored to have cohosted this historic environmental justice Congressional convening,” Rep. McEachin said. “I am deeply appreciative of the hundreds of advocates who joined us from around the country who sacrificed their valuable time to share their passion and knowledge for environmental justice with congressional staff. True change begins with them, these are the community leaders who know the best solutions for addressing these climate injustices because they are on the front lines. Our statement of principles is built around that concept, that we need everyone to weigh in on policy solutions in order to draft the most comprehensive legislation possible. I am extremely grateful to Chairman Grijalva for being my partner in these efforts and to the Natural Resources Committee for helping make the Convening such a success. This is a new beginning and I look forward to our continued work with each other, those who attended, and many others to draft environmental justice legislation.”

“We applaud Chairman Raul M. Grijalva, Representative A. Donald McEachin and the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee for organizing an immersive environmental and climate justice experience for Congressional staff,” said Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director and Director of Policy Initiatives at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “Hopefully the EJ Convening equipped those responsible for policy development with the grounding necessary to ensure an equity lens is applied to creating legislation that will address the pressing environmental issues threatening frontline communities.”

The archived livestream of the morning session can be viewed at http://bit.ly/2FrZWVu and the afternoon session can be viewed at http://bit.ly/2Xg9rC9.

Photos from the convening can be viewed at https://flic.kr/s/aHsmEyxJrG.

The event is part of Chair Grijalva’s larger efforts to elevate the voices of communities traditionally left out of policy-making. Since becoming Ranking Member of the Committee in 2015, Grijalva has held multiple environmental justice listening sessions, most recently in New Mexico and Puerto Rico; a Democratic forum on the issue for Black History Month; and a forum on the Asian American and Pacific Islander community’s contributions to the nation’s environmental and conservation movement.

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