Environmental Justice Bill

Last week, the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice organized a program titled, “Environmental Justice in the 21st Century: Threats and Opportunities,” featuring a keynote address by U.S. Senator Cory Booker at the ABA’s Washington, D.C. office. The event was co-sponsored by the Environmental Law Institute, Beveridge & Diamond, and ABA Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources. The intent behind the program was to motivate the next generation of environmental justice advocates.

On October 24, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA) introduced a landmark piece of legislation to eliminate environmental injustice. The Environmental Justice Act of 2017 (“EJA”) requires federal agencies to address environmental justice through agency actions and permitting decisions, and strengthens legal protections against environmental injustice for communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities. The bill is the culmination of a months-long process of working with dozens of grassroots organizations across the country to craft a comprehensive bill that strengthens environmental justice protections for vulnerable communities.

This program also featured a panel discussion on Senator Booker’s recent landmark environmental justice legislation and the various ways it addresses critical issues for vulnerable communities nationwide, especially communities of color, in light of historical, ongoing challenges as well as new ones posed during this presidential administration. Other topics addressed included: changes at the Office of Environmental Justice of the EPA; recent appointments at EPA and the changing role of science in decision-making; and challenges to community efforts in support of environmental protection for clean air, water, and land via threats to citizen suits and enforcement.

Senator Booker was joined on the panel by Mustafa Ali, Vice President of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization, for the Hip Hop Caucus, and former head of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice; Patrice Simms, Vice President of Litigation for EarthJustice, and former attorney at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Justice – Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Natural Resources Defense Council; and moderator, Randy Hayman, Principal, of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., and former General Counsel of DC Water.

Should you or your institution be interested in partnering with ABA CRSJ on future programs, please let me know, and we would be glad to colloborate.

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