FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 5, 2021
Letter with environmental justice leaders in Congress urges robust funding for environmental justice initiatives
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán joined Representatives A. Donald McEachin, Raùl M. Grijalva, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Pramila Jayapal, Yvette D. Clarke and Debbie Dingell in sending a letter to Congressional leadership calling for strong investments in environmental justice related programs. The letter highlights the environmental disparities communities of color and low-income communities face and calls for community investments to prioritize equity and justice for all.
“The infrastructure bill is a once in a generation opportunity to make transformational investments that lift up communities historically burdened by pollution in Los Angeles County and around the country. We must meet the moment by prioritizing investment in environmental and climate justice in the reconciliation bill. Now is the time. There is no guarantee of second chances. No do overs. It’s time to deliver on our promise,” Congresswoman Barragán said.
In the letter, the members wrote: “As you consider historic investments to build back better, we urge you to make robust investments in programs that will deliver relief to these communities and ensure that these communities, left out of the conversation for too long, are able to thrive. We must prioritize investments that: provide quality water and ensure drinking water services, increase access to and investment in clean energy and energy efficiency programs, accelerate the deployment of zero emissions transportation and goods movement, support programs that support workforce development and pollution reduction, and address health impacts and support programs that improve the health of environmental justice communities.”
Congresswoman Barragán has introduced several major pieces of environmental justice legislation in the 117th Congress:
- The Climate Smart Ports Act (H.R. 501) to invest in zero-emissions technology for equipment and vehicles used at ports.
- The Energy Resilient Communities Act (H.R. 448) to support energy and climate resiliency through clean-energy microgrid grants to environmental justice communities.
- The Climate Justice Grants Act (H.R. 2442) to build on the EPA’s EJ Small Grants program by funding community climate mitigation and adaptation projects.
- The Parks, Jobs, and Equity Act (H.R. 1678) to provide a one-time stimulus of $500 million in urban parks for low-income and underserved communities.
- The Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Infrastructure Act (H.R. 4440) to invest in charging equipment for medium and heavy-duty fleets, including a priority for communities in nonattainment with the Clean Air Act.
Text of the letter follows.
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, and Minority Leader McCarthy:
As Congress continues negotiations to advance legislation to build a stronger, more equitable, and more just economy, we urge you to include robust funding for environmental justice related initiatives. While environmental justice and ensuring equitable economic opportunity remain key priorities for the Biden Administration and for the Democratic Caucus, investments in environmental justice related programs included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework fall far short of what is necessary to fully mitigate the impacts of environmental racism and environmental inequity on our communities and ensure that they are not left behind as we look to build a sustainable economy.
The decades-old legacy of racism and environmental inequity has made environmental justice communities – including low-income communities, communities of color, and Tribal and indigenous communities in the U.S. and U.S. territories particularly vulnerable. Members of these communities are more likely to reside in areas with higher levels of pollution or live on the ‘fenceline’ of industry and transportation corridors. These communities endure inadequate access to safe drinking water and quality healthcare, face the ill effects of air pollution, both indoors and outdoors, and bear other impacts of disproportionally high pollution levels. These injustices have been further compounded by the economic collapse caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has further triggered high rates of unemployment and slow economic recovery within non-white communities.
As Congress considers historic investments to build back better, we urge robust investments in programs that will deliver relief to these communities and ensure that these communities, left out of the conversation for too long, are able to thrive. We must prioritize investments that: provide quality water and ensure drinking water services, increase access to and investment in clean energy and energy efficiency programs, accelerate the deployment of zero emissions transportation and goods movement, support programs that support workforce development and pollution reduction, and address health impacts and support programs that improve the health of environmental justice communities.
All Americans should have the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment, regardless of their zip code or socioeconomic status. The Administration has taken action to ensure that these rights are upheld through the Justice40 Initiative and a whole-of-government approach to environmental justice. As Congress moves to make historic investments to ensure that our economy remains strong, we urge you to prioritize the needs of environmental justice communities.
It is critical that Congress make community investments in a way that will ensure equity, justice, and healthier outcomes for all. We stand ready to work with you, and thank you for your consideration of this urgent request.
A. Donald McEachin
Raùl M. Grijalva
Nanette Diaz Barragán
Lisa Blunt Rochester
Yvette D. Clarke
Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington. She serves as chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Border Security.