All Americans deserve to be protected from environmental health hazards. That is why last week, the Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality announced an agreement and signed a “Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice and Executive Order 12898” (EJ MOU). As part of this agreement, federal agencies will develop environmental justice strategies and provide the public with annual progress reports on their efforts. These efforts will help protect the health of those living in communities overburdened by pollution so they can thrive.
Attorney General Holder highlighted the role this partnership will play in fighting for environmental justice stating:
“Today’s memorandum will reinforce the federal government’s commitment to the guiding principles of environmental justice – that the wealth, poverty, or race of any people should not determine the quality and health of the environment in which they live their lives. These are important steps to ensure that environmental justice is an integral part of our work.”
Environmental justice is a major priority of the Department of Justice and the EPA. Its goal is to provide all Americans – regardless of their race, ethnicity or income status – full protection under the nation’s environmental, civil rights, and health laws and to make sure that certain communities are not unfairly burdened with pollution, contaminated storm water, or toxic chemicals. Those who live in these environments face disproportionate health problems and greater obstacles to economic growth when their communities cannot attract businesses and new jobs.