Ranking Member Grijalva, Rep. Lee, Senators Duckworth and Booker Introduce the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act
Washington, D.C. – Today, on World Water Day, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) reintroduced the newly named A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act at a bicameral press conference, joined by Vice Ranking Member Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.) and a diverse array of grassroots groups, youth advocates, and environmental justice community leaders from across the country.
WATCH the lawmakers introduce the legislation at today’s press conference.
CLICK HERE for a fact sheet on the bill.
Named in honor of the House bill’s original co-lead, the late Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act is the most comprehensive environmental justice legislation in history. The legislation incorporates extensive community feedback, including 350 written comments from members of the public and leaders in the environmental justice movement, and is supported by more than 300 environmental justice groups and allies.
Beginning in 2018, Ranking Member Grijalva and Rep. McEachin launched a nationwide, inclusive, transparent, community-led, and community-driven process to craft the Environmental Justice For All Act. After establishing the first-ever Congressional Convening on Environmental Justice, the lawmakers gathered additional input from environmental justice communities, leaders, and allies all across the country. Read more about that historic effort here.
Last year, after a nationwide Community Input Tour to obtain additional feedback on the bill, the Environmental Justice For All Act made history as the first comprehensive environmental justice legislation to pass through a House committee.
“The Environmental Justice For All Act would not have been possible without Rep. McEachin’s vision and tireless commitment to making sure that the communities impacted by this bill were at the table in every step of crafting it,” said Ranking Member Grijalva. “This bill belongs to him and the environmental justice communities all over this country who have been fighting for their rights to clean air, water, and their health for decades. The A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act will take the concrete action we need to help make sure the same destruction that’s been perpetrated against poor communities and communities of color for decades doesn’t happen again. We’re going to build on the progress and momentum we’ve made collectively and turn this legislation into law.”
“Growing up in El Paso, Texas under the shadow of the Asarco copper smelter, I know firsthand how harmful environmental pollution can be to communities,” said Rep. Lee. “But unlike when I was a child, we now have overwhelming, indisputable scientific evidence that marginalized communities in America are bearing the brunt of toxic pollution and climate change. As our late colleague and friend Congressman Donald McEachin said, access to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment should not be a luxury. This legislation is rooted in that principle. I am proud to take up Rep. McEachin’s fight as the new co-lead of this transformative bill, and will not stop until we achieve environmental justice for all—no matter where you live, what you look like, or how much you make.”
“For far too long, we have put our most toxic, most polluting industries next door to Black and Brown neighborhoods while those in power have looked away—enough,” said Sen. Duckworth. “As the co-chair and co-founder of the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus, I’m proud to introduce the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act with Senator Booker and Congressmembers Grijalva and Lee to help us uproot systemic racism, promote health equity and protect every American’s right to breathe safe air, drink clean water and live on uncontaminated land—regardless of their zip code.”
“In this country, environmental justice is intrinsically linked with economic and social justice,” said Sen. Booker. “We have a moral obligation to ensure that everyone has access to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. Unfortunately, communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities across our country are disproportionately exposed to toxic chemicals and harmful pollutants that result from the actions of the negligent few. That is why I am proud to join my colleagues Senator Duckworth and Congressmembers Grijalva and Lee in introducing this bill that would ensure everyone has access to the most basic human needs such as clean water and clean air, regardless of their socioeconomic status or the color of their skin.”
“We are facing a climate crisis that is disproportionately impacting Black and Brown communities across the country,” said Rep. Kamlager-Dove. “As the Vice Ranking Member on the House Natural Resources Committee, I am proud to stand with my colleagues to secure clean air and water for future generations and address the severe and lasting impacts of environmental racism. Together, we can advance environmental justice measures that put communities first and honor the legacy of the late Representative Donald McEachin.”
The House bill’s original cosponsors include co-lead Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), along with Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.), Greg Casar (D-Texas), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Jennifer McClellan (D-Va.) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas).
The Senate bill’s original cosponsors include co-leads Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), along with Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.).
Statements of Support
Abre’ Conner, Director Environmental and Climate Justice, NAACP:
“On World Water Day, everyone deserves to be considered in ensuring we meet goals for clean water and sanitation by 2030. However, due to environmental racism, ?Black communities are often disproportionately impacted by safe drinking water act violations, wastewater issues, and dilapidated water infrastructure. This is why World Water Day must center environmental justice impacts in communities. The A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act acknowledges that federal policy and funding perpetuates environmental racism and leads to communities that cannot fully realize a sustainable future.”
“As stated in NAACP’s?Fumes Across the Fenceline: The Health Impacts of Air Pollution from Oil and Gas Facilities on African American Communities, “race is the number one factor where toxic facilities and disruptive infrastructure are sited, and a determinant as to whether environmental policies and laws are enforced. This bill will directly authorize federal agencies to make special consideration regarding cumulative impacts in permitting decisions. Moreover, it strengthens the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Clean Air Act of 1970, as amended in 1990 and the Clean Water Act of 1972, with provisions to provide funding?for?programs to support health equity, parks and recreational facilities in underserved urban communities, and a just transition to clean energy. We strongly support the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act.”?
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. , President & CEO, Hip Hop Caucus:
"The Hip Hop Caucus (HHC) is pleased to see the reintroduction of the Environmental Justice for All Act, and its naming in honor of the late great Congressman A. Donald McEachin. Congressman McEachin was actually the first guest on HHC’s award-winning podcast, The Coolest Show (Season 1, Episode 1), where he discussed the history of the environmental justice movement. Representing the 4th District of Virginia, Congressman McEachin kept the interests of his community first and wasn't afraid to challenge those who wanted to keep vulnerable Black, Brown and Indigenous communities from moving from surviving to thriving. The Environmental Justice For All Act embodies that commitment, shining a light on the cumulative impacts of pollution on air and water for those communities, while strengthening the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and other civil rights areas to ensure communities can fight back against polluters."
Maite Arce, CEO, of Hispanic Access Foundation:
“All people have the right to a healthy environment, including clean air, water, and soil; nearby, accessible nature; resilience to natural disasters; and a stable climate. Yet many Black, Indigenous, Latino, and other communities of color face environmental racism from disproportionate exposure to toxins, air and climate pollutants, and a lack of access to nature. This bill, created in collaboration with those most impacted by environmental racism, will lead to greater equity and justice by protecting communities of color that are burdened with the highest levels of pollution.”
Juan Rosas, PLC Faith Leader, Hispanic Access:
“Hispanic Access Foundation’s Por La Creación Faith-Based Alliance - a national group of Latino faith leaders with the mission of protecting God’s creation - welcomes this bill, because we believe that God gave us the Earth to act as stewards. Reducing the contamination our communities and environment face is one aspect of stewarding God’s creation. All families deserve to breathe clean air, but that is not currently the case, especially in our Latino communities. It is up to us, as faith leaders and leaders of environmental justice communities, to ensure that we are creating a healthy environment for our families and our planet to thrive.”?
Dr. Adrienne L. Hollis, vice president of environmental justice, health, and community revitalization at the National Wildlife Federation:
“Tomorrow’s economy should not come at the expense of frontline and fenceline communities — and environmental victories should not be built on the backs of people struggling to recover from past policies. The A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act will help ensure that everyone can enjoy clean air, clean water, and healthy environments while progress on climate and clean energy do not come at the expense of communities of color. Congress should take up this legislation, which was developed in partnership with impacted communities themselves, and pass it into law.”
Katie Huffling, DNP, RN, CNM, FAAN, Executive Director, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
“The A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act is an example of comprehensive and representative legislation that can be achieved when elected officials listen to key stakeholders and prioritize community input. Nurses recognize the benefits and wholeheartedly support legislation that helps ensure equal access to clean water, air, land, green spaces and health promoting programs. Passage of the EJ4All Act will be a step towards health equity and members of The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments will continue to meet with their legislators to bring awareness and support for this historic and necessary legislation.”
Abdul?Dosunmu, Campaign Manager, Donors of Color Network Climate Funders Justice Pledge:
“The impacts of climate change are here now and are disproportionately impacting communities of color. We need all hands-on deck and must equitably resource BIPOC-led climate and environmental justice efforts to build a more effective, winning movement.??
“The A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act is crucial for prioritizing a justice-focused approach to our climate crisis. The policy provides new and significant investment in BIPOC communities while holding federal agencies accountable to environmental justice strategies. We applaud Representative Grijalva’s leadership on this bill in honor of the late Representative McEachin - two Congressmen who have been great allies to the Climate Funders Justice Pledge - and we look forward to the day it becomes law.”
“We are proud to have played a small role in propelling climate justice forward on a national stage, and believe this policy represents an important step forward in ensuring environmental justice is at the core of our strategies to address the climate crisis.”?
Rudy Arredondo, President/CEO/Founder of the Latino Farmers & Ranchers International, Inc:
“?We must ensure environmental justice includes farms, ranches and its workers that have been impacted by legacy polluters. Our farmworkers, farmers and ranchers are essential in the remediation of our climate. From the planting of seeds, cultivation, harvesting and deliverance to our table: they are the direct link to humanity. We must ensure justice and resiliency for them so that they can keep us fed.”
Almeta Cooper, National Manager for Health Equity at Moms Clean Air Force:
“Moms Clean Air Force strongly endorses the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act bill because it will significantly advance equitable access to clean air and clean water for families regardless of their socioeconomic or racial background–and, importantly, it will give communities the right to hold polluters accountable for their actions. This transformative bill is a fitting tribute to the late Rep. McEachin whose legacy of fighting environmental injustice lives on in this bill. On behalf of our more than 1.5M members across the country, we thank Representatives Grijalva and Lee–together with Senators Duckworth and Booker–for their inspired leadership in co-sponsoring this bill which places equity and environmental justice at the heart of our federal government’s policies and programs.”
Carolina Peña-Alarcón, EcoMadres Program Manager, Moms Clean Air Force:
“We commend Representatives Raúl Grijalva and Barbara Lee, and Senators Tammy Duckworth and Cory Booker, for championing and introducing the most comprehensive environmental justice bill in the history of Congress, the “A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act.” Communities of color, low?income communities, and Tribal and indigenous communities continue to experience disproportionate levels of exposure and vulnerability to toxic pollution and environmental risks, and it is time we combat this reality with bold actions that protect the health and safety of those communities?that have been most impacted. This bill is an important step toward a cleaner, more just, and more equitable future for all people living in the US.”
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