U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS CONTINUES TO PROBE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ISSUES
Administration officials to discuss compliance with environmental measures
Friday, February 8, 2002, 10:00 a.m.
USCCR Headquarters, 624 9th Street, NW, Room 540
(Washington, DC) Are low-income neighborhoods unfairly targeted for siting industrial plants and toxic waste sites? Are residents of these communities more vulnerable to environmental hazards than other communities? What impact do federal environmental, economic and energy policies have on low-income and minority communities? How effectively are government agencies enforcing environmental regulations in affected communities?
These are among the questions the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will probe when it convenes part two of its environmental justice hearing at its February 8th monthly meeting. Earlier this month, the Commission heard testimony from a range of academics, community advocates and industry experts regarding the health, housing, land use, economic development, transportation and civil rights implications of federal environmental policies and practices.
"Civil rights and social justice issues are intertwined with modern day environmentalism," stated Commission Chairperson Mary Frances Berry. "The federal government is charged with ensuring that all citizens are treated fairly and we want to find out whether or not that is happening."
EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, and Interior Secretary Gail Norton are among the agency heads invited to discuss how the Administration is incorporating environmental justice into their policies and programs in accordance with Executive Order 12898. Specific concerns include disparities in enforcement of environmental codes and regulations, the impact of public health laws, compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and whether existing laws should be revised to incorporate greater awareness of environmental justice perspectives. The Commission is authorized to conduct hearings that appraise the laws and policies of the federal government and routinely utilizes its subpoena power for experts invited to provide testimony.