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EPA Administrator Reaffirms Commitment to Environmental Justice on 20th Anniversary of Executive Order

Release Date: 02/11/2014
Contact Information: Julia Q. Ortiz ortiz.julia@epa.gov 202-564-1931 202-564-4355; Contacto en español: Lina Younes 202-564-9924 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy today reaffirmed the Agency’s commitment to environmental justice in a meeting of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) held in Denver, Colorado. The meeting coincides with a Presidential Proclamation by President Obama commemorating the 20th anniversary of the February 11, 1994 signing of Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations.”

Executive Order 12898 states that every federal agency, with the law as its guide, should make environmental justice part of its mission. Other topics discussed included sustainability and environmental justice, equitable development, climate resiliency, and leveraging financial and other resources for communities.

“Working collaboratively with our stakeholders, we have made great strides over the past two decades to reduce air pollution and clean up contaminated land and water in communities across the country, especially those faced with disproportionate impacts from pollution,” said Administrator McCarthy. “While we recognize the important work that has been accomplished over the past two decades, we will keep striving to improve the quality of life for all Americans by addressing the persistent environmental and health burdens faced by our most vulnerable populations.”

In recognizing the work of the NEJAC and communities over the past 20 years, Administrator McCarthy presented the NEJAC gavel to its new chairwoman, Margaret May.

Environmental justice has been an important part of EPA’s mission to protect public health and the environment. Since 1994, EPA has awarded $25 million to 1,400 communities across the country in support of projects that include reducing exposure to indoor environmental asthma triggers, restoring and protecting waterways, educating childcare professionals on ways to prevent lead poisoning, reducing pesticide use in childcare facilities, and other environmental justice concerns.

The NEJAC, a federal advisory committee to EPA, provides independent guidance and recommendations on national environmental justice policy issues, such as integrating environmental justice considerations into EPA's decision-making process, and strategies for ensuring that communities have meaningful opportunities to participate in that process. During the past 20 years, more than 1,000 stakeholders have volunteered to participate on the NEJAC.

For more information on environmental justice and the 20th anniversary:
http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/events/20th-anniversary.html

To read the Presidential Proclamation, visit:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/02/10/presidential-proclamation-20th-anniversary-executive-order-12898-environ