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Region 1: EPA New England

Environmental Justice News - September 2011, Issue 14

This newsletter provides links to non-EPA websites. These links provide additional information that may be useful or interesting and are being provided consistent with the intended purpose of this newsletter. However, EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of the information provided by linked sites. Providing links to a non-EPA website does not constitute an endorsement by EPA or any of its employees of the sponsors of this site or the information or products presented on the site. Click icon for EPA disclaimer. 

News

EJ Advisory Council Met in May in Brooklyn, NY

The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council met May 10 to 12 in Brooklyn, NY. This national EJ council, known as NEJAC, was established Sept. 30, 1993. Representatives of the community, academia and industry, as well as environmental and government organizations were brought together to help define and find solutions to environmental justice problems. The council's meetings aim to integrate environmental justice with other EPA priorities.

In opening remarks, Judith Enck, EPA's administrator for Region 2 in New York, outlined the key environmental projects in her regional office. This was followed by a discussion of Plan EJ 2014 led by Lisa Garcia (Senior Advisor to former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson), Charles Lee (Office of Environmental Justice) and Mathy Stanislaus (Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response). Plan EJ 2014, as outlined in our previous newsletters, are implementation plan for the integration of environmental justice principles across the EPA.

The next two days included the following guest speakers: Cynthia Giles, director of the EPA's Office on Compliance and Enforcement; Bill Sanders, director of the National Center for Environmental Research in EPA's Office of Research and Development; John Hankinson, executive director of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force; Eddie Bautista of the New York City EJ Alliance; and Jo Ann Chase, director of EPA's Tribal Program. At the end of each day, the public was given several hours to comment on Plan 2014 and other topics of concern. A full transcript of the public comments and speeches given by the guest speakers are available at: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/ej/nejac/past-nejac-meet.html

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EPA Awards Funds to Clean and Revitalize Springfield, Mass.

Redevelopment work at Union Station in Springfield, Mass., will get a boost of $400,000 from the $3.5 million in brownfields grants EPA is making available for Massachusetts communities. Another $500,000 in brownfields funding will go to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

Curt Spaulding, Regional Administrator, presents check to Mayor Domenic Sarno

Curt Spaulding, Regional Administrator, presents check to Mayor Domenic Sarno

The funding is part of more than $76 million in EPA brownfields investments across the country announced in May by former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. EPA Brownfields grants are meant to help communities and developers reclaim sites, including old textile mills, which contain hazardous substances and petroleum products and other abandoned industrial and commercial properties. EPA's Brownfields program encourages redevelopment of America's estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites. The $12.55 million in grant and revolving loan fund money awarded by EPA in 2011 to New England communities and organizations will provide substantial help around the region. The money for the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is part of EPA's brownfields revolving loan funding.

As of this June, EPA's brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $16.3 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding, and helped create more than 70,000 jobs in cleanup, construction and redevelopment. These investments and jobs target local, under-served and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods – places where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed.

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Company Agrees to Stop Illegal Dumping in Bridgeport

Mark IV Site

Mark IV Site

In a win for community groups throughout Bridgeport, Conn., the city signed an agreement with the Mark IV construction company to clean up debris in the East End neighborhood. The company has agreed to clean the site and stop dumping debris in the 2.5-acre area on Seaview Avenue. The Mark IV construction company has been using the site as a dumping ground since the 1990s. Residents brought a case against the company that lingered for four years before the May 24 agreement was signed by the city and construction company. Residents were annoyed they did not get their day in court; instead, the agreement was negotiated privately between the city of Bridgeport and the construction company.

Under the agreement, the company has agreed to remove all heavy machinery and all landfill materials will be removed from the site by Dec. 1. The company will also provide a schedule of reports on the progress of the clean up. Mark IV is presently relocating its operations to Stratford, Conn.

To read more about this story, visit: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Company-agrees-to-stop-dumping-at-Seaview-Avenue-1397343.php

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EPA Summer Interns Explore Region in Field Session

House of Representatives, Mass. State House

House of Representatives, Mass. State House

This summer, legal interns working with the EPA participated in a three-day field session (field sessions allow students to learn by going out into the communities EPA staff work in) organized by staff with EPA New England. The session include discussions of EPA legal practice, an overview of public and private sector legal careers, how to improve job prospects, the legislative process in the state of Massachusetts, brownfields, biotechnology, the Boston Harbor restoration, and environmental justice issues.

The field session included several offsite visits. The first of these was to Genzyme, a biotechnology company that sits on the former site of a coal gasification plant, which was abandoned and left contaminated and later designated as a Brownfield. On the second morning of workshops, interns went to the Deer Island Sewage Treatment Plant, one of the largest waste water treatment facilities in the country. Interns saw the three main pump stations, the facilities used for primary and secondary treatment and odor control mechanisms. The interns also took a tour of the State House to meet with State Rep. Byron Rushing, who told interns of his involvement in environmental justice issues in his district.

Roxbury, Mass. Air Monitor

Roxbury, Mass. Air Monitor

The final site visit was a tour of Roxbury, a neighborhood of Boston where Eugene Benson of Alternatives for Community and Environment led the tour. While at ACE's headquarters, Benson discussed what the terms "environment", "justice" and "environmental justice" meant. The interns were given a brief overview of the four programs of ACE: legal advice; technical assistance; organizing the T-Riders Union; and their youth program, the Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project.

During the walking tour, Benson and the group discussed the abandoned buildings; the use of the silver line bus transportation system; the conversion of a junk yard into a park; the new police department being built on the former site of a metal casing plant, and the air quality monitoring devices.

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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn Signs Legislation to Create Environmental Justice Commission

On August 16, 2011, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation that will evaluate whether laws or regulations are causing a disproportionate impact on any one segment of the population. Sponsored by Senator Toi Hutchinson and Representative Will Davis, Senate Bill 2193 creates the Environmental Justice Act and the Commission on Environmental Justice. The Commission is tasked with reviewing state laws and policies. It will provide recommendations to the Governor and to the General Assembly regarding environmental justice concerns. The new law will address concerns about rising asthma rates and other adverse health indicators throughout the state, particularly in minority populations. Membership of the Commission will include: businesses; nonprofit organizations; health experts; local government and members of the public with expertise in environmental justice. For more information about this new state law, visit: http://www.epa.state.il.us

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Office Update

Bridgeport Trainings June 3 and 29

Bridgeport Workshop Series

Bridgeport Workshop Series

EPA New England's Bridgeport EJ Showcase has made sustainability an essential component of its work with the City. It has done so with partnerships at the local, state and federal levels. As part of this partnership, EPA New England has leveraged its resources with HUD, DOT, DOE, DOL, DOI, and DOJ; essential state environmental and public health agencies; and community based and environmental organizations to ensure that environmental justice considerations become an essential component of the Bridgeport EJ Showcase and local planning.

The Region helped fund and support two training sessions on June 3 and 29, 2011 that gave participants additional tools to better understand key environmental and sustainability policies and programs; expanded collaboration among diverse groups; and produced a template for leveraging outcomes in other EJ communities. Most immediately, these sessions resulted in the City committing to invest approximately one million dollars to improve or acquire land for parks; expanded public involvement; relocated a community boating group to the East End; built an observation area at the James Brown/Waterview area; increased local enforcement of land use and zoning laws (Mark IV relocation); increased idling tips; and supported a number of solid waste clean-ups. Along with projects derived from the trainings, EPA supported a youth oriented sampling project; continued the grade school recycling pilot; leveraged a more transparent GE facility reuse project; participated in Pleasure Beach and Johnson's Creek reuse planning; and encouraged pollution prevention and green jobs training programming within the City. (The region helped fund one student intern.) Finally, the Region awarded Workplace Inc. $300,000 to train, place and monitor graduates for two years.

Bridgeport Workshop Series

Bridgeport Workshop Series

Participants at the two trainings have agreed on some near term projects that focus on increasing sustainable land use and zoning practices, reducing food deserts, improving water quality and improving livability into EJ areas. To date, City of Bridgeport Parks and Recreation Department, Groundwork Bridgeport and a volunteer group from People's Bank, conducted a clean up on June 27, 2011. They removed the jersey barriers at James Brown/Waterview area. Following this work, the City's Parks crew also installed benches facing the water and where visitors congregate. While still in the planning stages, the City and the Conn. Fund for the Environment hope to work with Groundwork Bridgeport and other volunteers in September to remove more invasive species, possibly replant native plants, and clear the stream edge in the City. The City also continues to clear debris, but the illegal dumping continues to be a problem. Along with video cameras, the City is developing a strategy to put up a wooden barrier fence to dissuade vehicles from pulling up close to the river to illegally dump trash. It is also refining how it will select neighborhoods for additional greenspace in the future based on environmental justice and sustainability principles.

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EPA Reaches Out to Boston University Upward Bound Students' Career Fair

In July, 2011, Regional staff participated in a half day career fair at Boston University's Upward Bound Students' Career Fair. Upward Bound provides fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance. It serves high school students from low-income families; and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor's degree. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.

EPA provided an overview of the many careers in the environmental field and at EPA in particular. Following a brief lecture, students were allowed to ask a range of questions as well as try on some protective gear. Approximately sixty students participated.

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Office of Civil Rights and Urban Affairs Holds Lunch and Learn Series

Dayna Cunningham from MIT's Community Innovators Lab spoke to EPA staff June 21 at the first of two recent Lunch and Learn sessions hosted by the Office of Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. The second Lunch and Learn July 14 featured Tufts University Assistant Professor Justin Hollander, who spoke about his work in the area of land use and urban regeneration, with a focus on the challenges of brownfields and shrinking cities.

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EJ Highlights

Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project (REEP), Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE)

REEP Youth Summit, July 2011

REEP Youth Summit, July 2011

Staff at EPA New England often get to work with dedicated advocates for environmental justice and environmental protection. One of the pioneering groups for environmental justice in New England is Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE). Alternatives for Community and Environment, a community organization in Roxbury launched in 1993, organizes residents to build power for environmental justice. ACE's four major programs are: the Dudley Square Organizing Project; Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project; Environmental Justice Legal Services; and the T Rider's Union. Since its founding, ACE has partnered with more than 100 neighborhood groups, and represented thousands of people throughout Massachusetts.

EPA Intern Caitlin Poor with the REEP Youth Pass Campaign Poster at ACE's Youth Summit July 2011

EPA Intern Caitlin Poor with the REEP Youth Pass Campaign Poster at ACE's Youth Summit July 2011

The Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project (REEP) within ACE is a space where young people in EJ communities participate in and lead struggles for addressing environmental justice issues. It has become a model for fostering leadership in the environmental justice movement among youth. REEP is working on a joint effort with Boston-area Youth Organizing Project (a youth-led, adult supported organization that works for social change and justice in the Boston area) to create a Youth Pass for the MBTA that will allow riders from ages 12 to 21 to use the Youth Pass for $10 all year round. REEP is pushing for the Youth Pass as a way for young people in Boston to have a positive relationship to public transportation and to become lifelong riders of the T. REEP has already been successful in working with the MBTA to extend the hours of the Student Pass from 8pm to 11pm.

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Youth Summit

REEP Youth Summit, July 2011

REEP Youth Summit, July 2011

More than 300 youth from all parts of Massachusetts attended the 15th annual EJ Youth Summit held by ACE July 29 at the SEIU building in Dorchester. The all-day event included 16 workshops on such topics as: Grow or Die: Food Justice 101; Fighting for Youth Jobs; Ride or Die: Transit Justice 101; Being Your Own Boss: Youth Co-op Combating Environmental Injustice; and Discovering Your Roots.

Closing out the day was a spoken word open mic for the youth to perform their spoken word pieces. For more information and highlights from the EJ Youth Summit, go to ACE's website: http://www.ace-ej.org

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HQ Activities

Plan EJ 2014

The EPA has released Plan EJ 2014, a roadmap that will help EPA integrate environmental justice into the Agency's programs, policies, and activities. Plan EJ 2014 is named in recognition of the 20th anniversary of President Clinton's Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. To read more about Plan EJ 2014, visit the following website: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/ej/plan-ej/

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Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice Participates in Meetings in New England

Roxbury Tour, IWG EJ Workgroup Members, June 2011

Roxbury Tour, IWG EJ Workgroup Members, June 2011

The Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice, established in 1994 by executive order, guides, supports and enhances federal environmental justice and community-based activities. The Working Group is made up of leaders from several federal agencies and White House offices. As part of a series of meetings nationwide, the group held meetings in New England this spring and summer. Working Group members were in Worcester, Mass., May 17 to participate in the Asthma Regional Council conference and at the America Association of State Highway Transportation Officials conference June 21. At each event, conference organizers set aside 90 minutes for the audience to learn about the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice followed by a question and answer period.

Before the June 21 meeting, group members toured seven of Boston's nonprofit organizations working on environmental justice issues: Four Corners Action Coalition; YouthBuild Boston; Nuestra Communidad; Alternatives for Community and Environment; Dorchester Environmental Health; Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative; and The Food Project. Group members were guided by organizational leaders through community gardens, vacant and abandoned lots, and nonprofit organizational offices. Members of the EJ Working Group that attended the tours planned to take their experience and the issues raised back to the larger Working Group to discuss strategy on addressing common environmental justice problems facing communities.

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Administration Renews Commitment to EJ

Former Administrator Lisa Jackson on Aug. 4 signed a Memorandum of Understanding that guides federal agencies on how to incorporate environmental justice principles into each agency's policies and regulations. Jackson, along with heads of 17 federal agencies, on Aug. 4 signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice and Executive Order 12898. The Memorandum supplements of Executive Order 12898, signed by President Clinton Feb. 11, 1994, called Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. The Executive Order, a legally binding document issued by the President's office to provide guidance to federal agencies, directs each agency to make environmental justice a part of its mission.

Former EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, signs EJ MOU

Former EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, signs EJ MOU

The Memorandum of Understanding signed on August 4, 2011, broadens the reach of the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice by including new federal agencies. Federal agencies that have signed on must create an environmental justice strategy every year that will be available to the public. They must also provide yearly reports on the progress made in carrying out the environmental justice commitments outlined in their strategies and must include responses to comments and recommendations made by the public to the agency regarding its EJ Strategy.

The signing of the EJ memorandum of understanding is largely being seen as the Obama Administration's efforts to elevate environmental justice issues to the national spotlight and to re-affirm the administration's commitment to reducing environmental injustice in the United States.

Read the Memorandum of Understanding: http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/resources/publications/interagency/ej-mou-2011-08.pdf (6 pp, 42 K, about PDF)

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Upcoming Events

Slow Food Gala, Regional Environmental Council, Worcester, Mass. on October 13
On October 13, 2011, the Regional Environmental Council (REC) will hold its 5th Annual Slow Food Gala in Worcester, Mass. The Slow Food Gala is an event used to bring together community members to celebrate the slow food and fruits grown over the summer. The event is used to bring together groups working towards a healthy, sustainable, and just community. The event starts at 6PM and will be held at the Hogan Campus Center at the Holy Cross campus. For more information about this event, contact staff at the Regional Environmental Council: info@recworcester.org

New England Environmental Justice Forum Trainings, October 15 and November 19, 2011
The New England Environmental Justice Forum is a collaborative effort among the EPA and three nonprofit, environmental justice organizations throughout New England. Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE), Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ) and Rhode Island Legal Services are working with EPA New England to bring together advocates from across New England to conduct two trainings held around the region. The trainings will offer workshops on expanding legal assistance, campaign strategy for organizers working towards environmental justice, and how to address health disparities and climate change in addressing environmental justice. The first of these trainings will be held on Saturday, October 15, 2011 in Boston, MA. The second training will be held on November 19, 2011 in Hartford, Conn. For more information about the NE EJ Forum and the upcoming trainings, please contact: neejforum@gmail.com.

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Meeting, Albuquerque, NM, October 25 and 26, 2011
NEJAC will hold its next meeting in October 25 and 26, 2011 at the Albuquerque Marriott Hotel, 2101 Louisiana Boulevard in Albuquerque, NM. Registration is required for everyone. Advance registration closes on October 7. Registration will be available at the meeting; however, meeting materials will be delivered first to those who register early by October 7, 2011. To register on-line, go to the following website: http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/nejac/register.html

For more information about NEJAC, please go to the following website: http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/nejac/index.html

Worcester Speaker Series, October 27, 2011
On October 27, 2011, at 7:30AM, Ruth Ann Norton will speak at Worcester Polytechnic Institute on the topic of Healthy Homes. The event is being hosted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute along with community partner, Regional Environmental Council. Norton is the executive director of the Coalition to End Lead Poisoning in Baltimore, Maryland. The Coalition has played a role in reducing childhood lead poisoning in Baltimore by 91% in less than a decade. Norton will discuss her organization's strategies and provide best practices for participants.

Roxbury Community College Environmental Careers Program Kick-Off, November 2011 (date to be determined)
Roxbury Community College will host a jobs fair and announce plans to expand its drinking water and waste water management programming. Please contact Deborah Brown for more information: brown.deborah@epa.gov.

Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice Healthy Homes Conference, November 2011 (date to be determined)
Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice will host a healthy homes conference that focuses on using safe chemicals in the home, nutrition and recreation. Please contact Deborah Brown for more information about this conference: brown.deborah@epa.gov

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EPA New England EJ Contacts

Sharon Wells (wells.sharon@epa.gov)
Acting Director, Office of Civil Rights & Urban Affairs
617.918.1007

Amy Braz (braz.amy@epa.gov)
Environmental Justice Coordinator
617.918.1346

Heather Ross (ross.heather@epa.gov)
Environmental Justice Specialist
617.918.1073

Deborah Brown (brown.deborah@epa.gov)
Special Assistant and EJ Showcase Community Coordinator, Office of Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
617.918.1706

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Web Resources

EPA New England
Environmental Justice Program Website

National Office of Environmental Justice

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council

National Office of Civil Rights

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State Contacts

Connecticut-Edith Pestana
Environmental Justice Administrator
Environmental Equity Program
CT Department of Environmental Protection
(860) 424-3044

Maine-Malcolm Burson
Office of the Commissioner
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
(207) 287-7755

Massachusetts-David Cash
Assistant Secretary for Policy
MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
(617) 626-1164

Massachusetts-Phil Weinberg
MA Department of Environmental Protection
(617) 292-5972

New Hampshire-Sherry Godlewski
NH Department of Environmental Services
(603) 271-6801

Rhode Island-Terry Gray
Assistant Director/Air, Waste and Compliance
RI Department of Environmental Management
(401) 222-4700 ext. 2422

Vermont-Donald Robisky
VT Department of Environmental Conservation
(802) 241-3734

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