The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last Thursday that 46 tribal and nonprofit organizations are being granted a combined one million dollars of taxpayer money to fund "environmental justice issues." According to the EPA, such "issues" translate as "the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to" the environmental decision-making process.
Environmental justice will be achieved, the agency states, when everyone has "the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards" and equality in obtaining a "healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work."
According to the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment, "Environmental justice as a social movement has grown rapidly since the early 1990s in response to concerns about disproportionate environmental burdens in poor, indigenous and minority communities." Moreover, the university indicates that "natural resources and environment played an early and important role in helping bring national attention to this emerging social and political problem."
In response to these "societal burdens," President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12898 on February 11, 1994, which required federal agencies to develop an "environmental justice strategy" to address such concerns in disadvantaged areas. Regarding agency responsibilities, the executive order stated:
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Photo: EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson