WE ACT kicks off U.S. community tour for the environment
The initiative seeks to make local officials comply with the Biden administration's environmental policy.
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Seeking to launch the Justice40 program, launched by the government in January 2021, WE ACT for Environmental Justice will bring together community leaders and elected officials in more than 10 states to ask them to ensure that the money and resources needed to address the environmental damage and climate change are quickly delivered to their respective communities.
Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT, stated:
All of us must work together to reimagine and rebuild communities with these once-in-a-generation federal investments.
The initiative, which will provide billions of federal dollars appropriated in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and other eligible appropriations to address environmental injustices in diverse populations, seeks to ensure that people living with inherited damage are prioritized in the national transition to greener energy sources, cleaner air and water, and economic opportunity.
The investment categories are:
- Climate change
- Clean energy and energy efficiency
- Clean transit
- Affordable and sustainable housing
- Workforce training and development
- Remediation and reduction of contamination
- Development of critical clean water and wastewater infrastructure
The community tour begins in Houston, TX on December 7, 2022, followed by Austin, TX. In 2023, tours will continue in Anchorage, AK, Detroit, MI, Chicago, IL, Baltimore, MD, Oakland, CA, and additional cities and states to be announced.
“Engaging officials at every level of government ensures they will be held accountable to historically neglected and disinvested communities and that those on the frontlines of harm understand how to receive these critical resources,” added Shepard.
This is our moment. The Justice40 Initiative is one way to address the harms caused by a long history of bias in climate, energy, transit, housing, workforce, and infrastructure decisions. Learn more athttps://t.co/gRgMmXG9Sk. #Justice40rward #EJ4All #Justice40 pic.twitter.com/Stl1hyRNf9— WE ACT for EJ (@weact4ej) December 2, 2022
The communities were selected taking into account the different environmental hazards to which they are exposed and their potential health impacts, such as industrial air and water pollution, slow recovery from natural disasters, residential sewer overflows, and lack of culturally competent participation in these issues.
“Every community deserves to live in a healthy environment, but unfortunately, people living in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods have not been able to fully realize this goal. Harmful policy decisions have made pollution, economic instability and climate change the norm. Coupled with systemic racism, mismanagement of funds earmarked for specific communities, and uneven distribution of green investments among a host of other factors,” stresses WE ACT.
For her part, Ana Parras, executive co-director and administrator of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (T.e.j.a.s.), noted: “Thousands of people live, work, and attend schools in the shadow of these facilities. Pictures nor video cannot easily convey the surreal sight of this massive petrochemical industrial complex, nor the thick polluted air. It will, hopefully, make agencies and groups think about the toxic legacy of pollution for communities living along the Houston Ship Channel live with on a daily basis and spark the conversation on co-creating meaningful community solutions that center the most affected at the fence line.”
On Tuesday, December 6, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. ET, there will be a virtual press conference to learn more about the Community Tour. Speakers include:
- Peggy Shepard, Co-Founder and Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice
- Ali Zaidi, White House National Climate Advisor
- Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan, (CA-14) and Deputy Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus
- Susana Almanza, Founding Member and Director, PODER
- Chandra Farley, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Atlanta
Participants must register here to attend.