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High Expectations Associated with Region 4 Environmental Justice Conference

Release Date: 08/20/2012
Contact Information: Jason McDonald, (404) 562-9203, mcdonald.jason@epa.gov

Armed with high expectations and concern for their local communities, more than 300 people descended on the recent Environmental Justice Conference hosted by the regional office of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on August 16-17 in Atlanta.

The conference served as a forum designed to help attendees learn about tangible solutions to address environmental, social, and health impacts associated with environmental pollution in poor and minority areas.

The event also provided a variety of networking opportunities with environmental justice leaders and organizations.

EPA defines environmental justice as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

The audience was treated to a rousing and soul stirring opening message from Dr. Mildred McClain Executive Director of the Harambee House in Savannah, Georgia. “Ain’t gonna let nothing stop us from creating a better, sustainable, passionate community for our children and those yet born,” sung Dr. McClain with support from conference participants.

Several noted supporters of environmental justice joined Dr. McClain on the dais for the opening of the conference including Na'Taki Osborne Jelks, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance; Mustafa S. Ali, EPA, Office of Environmental Justice; Gwen Keyes-Fleming; EPA Regional Administrator Region 4 (Southeastern States), and Lisa Garcia, EPA, Office of the Administrator, Senior Advisor on Environmental Justice.

Garcia introduced Plan Environmental Justice 2014 (Plan EJ 2014) during the opening session. EJ 2014 is a roadmap to help EPA integrate environmental justice into the Agency’s programs, policies, and activities.

The plan’s strategy seeks to empower communities and establish partnerships with stakeholders in order to protect the health of communities in environmental justice areas.

Throughout the two-day conference, federal and state government officials, educators, and industry professionals delivered presentations and moderated discussions on environmental justice.

Gwen Keyes-Fleming, Regional Administrator for the eight southeastern states, believes the conference will have a far-reaching impact in communities throughout the region. “You don’t bring this many people together at one point in time and not expect success as a result,” she affirmed.

For more on Plan EJ 2014 go to:
http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/plan-ej/index.html