Chair Grijalva, Rep. McEachin Release Discussion Draft of Environmental Justice Bill, Marking New Public Input Phase of Historic Collaborative Effort

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) today unveiled a discussion draft of their environmental justice bill, which has been prepared through a collaborative effort with environmental justice advocates and grassroots groups across the country. Release of the draft at a press conference today on Capitol Hill marks the opening of a new public participation phase of the process, and anyone interested in reviewing and commenting on the draft should visit https://democrats-naturalresources.house.gov/environmental-justice and https://www.popvox.com/madison/documents/environmental-justice-for-all-act.

The Committee is partnering with an online tool called POPVOX to allow anyone to log in, review the text and offer formal comments and suggestions before finalization. The Grijalva-McEachin draft is the first of its kind and marks an important moment in the history of Congress listening to environmental justice communities.

At today’s event, Grijalva said the lawmakers intend to formally introduce the bill “soon” – but not before gathering public comment on the draft language. He noted that an environmental justice bill he introduced in a previous Congress wasn’t the best product it could be because it didn’t go through the rigorous, inclusive, participatory process used for this draft. 

A video archive of the livestream of today’s press conference is available here and at the Committee’s Facebook page at http://facebook.com/nrdems

“Environmental justice is finally getting the attention it deserves, but that’s just a first step,” Grijalva said today. “If we keep working together, keep building alliances, keep joining forces, we can do extraordinary things. We’ve already proven that this process works and that the need is real. I think everyone here today feels that the next stage of this effort, crafting a final bill, will be a truly historic moment. Congress should do more of this kind of listening and this kind of outreach. I think our bill will be a testament to that.” 

“With this discussion draft, we are taking a critical next step in the people-powered process we started last Congress to craft legislation to address the needs and perspectives of environmental justice communities,” Rep. McEachin said. “Environmental justice is a national priority, and Chairman Grijalva and I are determined to champion fairer policies and more open processes. I look forward to continuing to receive feedback on this draft legislation and introducing a bill that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people. We must and we will ensure that our society becomes clean, healthy, and sustainable for all.”

Statements of Support

We are pleased that Representatives Grijalva and McEachin are leading on an environmental justice bill that is rooted in the principles we support and centered on the frontline communities that bear the greatest burdens of pollution. We appreciate the opportunity to participate in the shaping of this bill, which is designed with an eye to compliance. We look forward to working with our member groups to make sure they see their priorities reflected in this important legislation. – Cynthia Mellon, Climate Justice Alliance

Frontline and fenceline communities facing environmental injustice welcome the opportunity to work with federal lawmakers to give strength to the movement for environmental justice. Neighborhoods addressing the threats associated with air pollution, soil and water contamination, toxic poisons, exposure to multiple chemicals and the synergistic and cumulative impacts, lead in water and houses, and climate change need powerful champions in Washington to push the envelope for the protection of the people and their communities, including the preservation of the National Environmental Policy Act, which assures a seat at the decision-making table for communities. – Dr. Mildred McClain, Harambee House/Citizens for Environmental Justice

WE ACT for Environmental Justice is appreciative of the thoughtful leadership of Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), particularly as they have made environmental justice a key legislative priority. Centering the knowledge and experience of frontline communities in the development of climate and environmental legislation is paramount in ensuring that we not only address the impending climate crisis in a just and equitable way but also ensure that these communities lead in the solutions and are not left behind. We look forward to continued opportunities to engage with both Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) and all members of both the House and Senate around the creation of sound, equitable environmental policies, and legislation. – Kerene Tayloe, WE ACT for Environmental Justice

I am honored to be in the presence of two of our nation’s representatives – Congressman Raul Grijalva and Representative McEachin – who are proposing  legislation to codify environmental justice. Since the passage of Executive Order 12898, in 1994, the merits and good intentions of the Environmental Justice Executive Order have failed, in many cases, to fully implement environmental justice in communities of color.  In short, environmental justice legislation is long overdue. Codifying Executive Order 12898 will ensure that future administrations cannot weaken or rescind what environmental justice communities have strived to achieve in order to fully implement equity and justice in addressing environmental justice issues.  As a representative of an environmental justice organization in Houston, Texas, we feel confident that the proposed environmental justice legislation is a huge step forward, and I pray that justice long overdue is implemented.  Environmental justice communities and front-line communities thank you for this effort. – Juan Parras, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services

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