Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva and Representative A. Donald McEachin have undertaken a comprehensive environmental justice initiative because all people have the right to pure air, clean water, and an environment that enriches life. For too many, these rights are still unrealized, and that injustice creates a pattern of continuous suffering for environmental justice communities.
Across the nation, our air and water are being polluted at great consequence to our health and environment. Too often, our government has turned a blind eye to these concerns—more so in some communities than in others.
Flint Michigan, the Dakota Access pipeline, cancer alley in Louisiana, and plastic pollution in Houston Texas are all examples of the United States government failing environmental justice communities across the country. Chair Grijalva and Rep. McEachin have launched this initiative to listen to all voices in the policymaking process, regardless of income or political status. Environmental justice stakeholders are encouraged to share their input to draft legislation.
Chair Grijalva and Rep. McEachin understand that legislation to address environmental justice concerns cannot be created in a vacuum. In December of 1996, forty people of color and European-American representatives met in Jemez, New Mexico, for the “Working Group Meeting on Globalization and Trade.” Together they drafted the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing. These principles are central to the environmental justice movement. Three primary philosophies of the Jemez principles are: 1) Be Inclusive, 2) Emphasize Bottom-Up Organizing and 3) Let People Speak for Themselves. These are the principles which have underpinned the public inputting process of Chair Grijalva and Rep. McEachin’s environmental justice initiative.
In late 2018, Chair Grijalva and Rep. McEachin brought together a group of environmental justice leaders and practitioners to elicit input on the front-end on how best to comprehensively address environmental justice concerns. This advisory group – dubbed the Environmental Justice Working Group (EJWG) – provided authentic, community-driven input on a range of areas that included substantive legislative recommendations, outreach and inclusion strategies, and a host of other considerations. The EJWG feedback culminated in a set of environmental justice principles which would be released to the public for further collaboration and input.
On June 26, 2019, Chair Grijalva and Representative McEachin hosted a first-of-its-kind Congressional Convening on Environmental Justice at the Capitol to collaborate on a statement of policy principles for the forthcoming environmental justice legislation.
Over 200 environmental justice leaders attended the the convening. Following the convening, Chair Grijalva and Rep. McEachin collected feedback and input from environmental justice stakeholders on a framework set of principles for comprehensive environmental justice legislation. This final Statement of Environmental Justice Policy Principles was informed by hundreds of hours of input from the EJ Working Group of advisors and organizational comments from a broad spectrum of EJ organizations.
Following the extensive environmental justice stakeholder engagement process as a result of this initiative, Chair Grijalva and Representative McEachin introduced their landmark Environmental Justice for All Act at a press conference in late February of this year. Environmental justice stakeholders can continue to partner with the committee and express their input on the bill through the PopVox platform by using the link below. Messages sent through PopVox will be provided directly to your legislators as the committee works to advance the Environmental Justice for All Act through the congress.