Top Environmental Development of 2010: EPA Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for Environmental Justice

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 01/06/2011 - 14:20.

Environmental Justice leader/victim speaking to panel at First White House Environmental Forum
Environmental Justice leader/victim Barbara Miller speaking to panel at First White House Forum on Environmental Justice

In what I consider the most important positive environmental development in America in the 21st Century, on December 15, 2010, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley convened the First White House Environmental Justice Forum, where leadership of the recently-reconvened Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG) met with over 100 environmental justice leaders (typically long-suffering EJ victims), in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, at the White House complex, to develop new federal interagency strategies and interactions with citizens to right current EJ wrongs in America, in anticipation of worse to come as results of climate change.

This Forum was the public interface, and culmination of a year of expansive activity in the White House, throughout the Obama Administration, and nationwide, to advance EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priority to “expand the conversation on environmentalism and work for environmental justice” in America, in clear recognition of harm caused disadvantaged citizens by current Environmental Injustice (aka Environmental Racism... Environmental Genocide... from the mouths of victims), and showing clear US government concern over "Climate Gaps" (e.g. in Heat Islands), and over those worsening, causing more environmental injustices, to be exacerbated by future Climate Change and resulting Climate Injustices that will harm life on Earth, in this age of human-caused global warming.

"Biblical" floods in Queensland, Australia, 2010 
"Biblical" floods in Queensland, Australia, 2010

Examples of climate change issues creating and/or contributing to climate gap issues include: major floods, like in New Orleans, Pakistan and Australia... major heat waves, islands and droughts, like in Russia and all over the world, in 2010... the hottest year on record - impacting the disadvantaged through scarcity and rising prices for staples like food, water and energy... increasing harm and burdens from exposure to air pollution made more harmful through climate change... increasing poverty from loss of jobs, income and real property value in disadvantaged areas most blighted by climate change, like in new flood-plains the size of France.

I attended the First White House Environmental Justice Forum as media... and as an environmental injustice victim of Cleveland, Ohio, which is a lead poisoning and air pollution toxic hot-spot of America.

As such, I can say first-hand this was an historic development for environmentalism in America, and thus worldwide, as a Federal shift of focus toward insuring minimum levels of environmental justice in America, including addressing climate gaps, shall help those most harmed by pollution, as we improve national and global environmental understanding, response and conditions for all... as we prepare for environmental catastrophes to come.

To succeed with that, Clevelanders, Americans and the world need to learn more about the EPA's expanding concerns about environmental justice and the Climate Gap...!

A Quiet Day in the White House Media Briefing Room, as Important News At the White House Was Ignored By The Media
A Quiet Day in the White House Media Briefing Room, as Important News At The White House Was Ignored By The Media

Strangely... besides me, for realNEO, the only media representatives who appear to have covered this important Forum were reporters from Greenwire, who were only picked up by the New York Times, that I can find... which I find beyond belief.

Where were AP and Reuters... the Washington Post, from down the street, at least?

About the Forum, from a wire report via Greenwire: Environmental Justice Activist Urges EPA Chief 'to Roll Up Your Sleeves' at Tense W.H. Forum:

The event, which featured five Cabinet secretaries and a slew of other top administration officials, was billed as a "focus on the Obama administration's commitment to ensuring that overburdened and low-income communities have the opportunity to enjoy the health and economic benefits of a clean environment."

If it is not the Obama administration that figures out how to protect the environment equally for all citizens, said Scott Fulton, EPA's general counsel, "I don't know who will."

But some activists said yesterday the Obama administration event was much like others in the environmental justice movement.

Virtually every new president, they say, has had top officials pledge to be more sensitive to inequality in the way that people are exposed to pollution and other environmental problems. Committees are formed. Guidance is issued. New positions are created. And yet, at the neighborhood level, very little seems to change.

"I did not come here to be talked to. I came here because I thought I was going be able to voice concerns," she said as she stood at the front of the auditorium. "The Plan EJ 2014 -- these are bureaucratic words on paper. They do nothing for these communities."

After her outburst, Canales was approached by an aide, who fetched her from her seat for a sit-down with Jackson outside the auditorium. She gave the administrator a report she had written, titled: "Why EPA's attempts to achieve environmental justice have failed and what they can do about it."

An activist from Maryland stood up to say that state and local agencies seem not to care about the issue.

"They just keep issuing the freaking permits," the activist said.

Yesterday's forum was historic, said Robert Bullard, director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University.

"But making history is not enough," Bullard said. "The most important piece is what happens after this."

Ignacia Moreno, the head of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, asked for patience from the audience.

"It's been a long time that people have been suffering with these burdens, and it's going to take some time to turn that big vessel," Moreno said. "But we have the commitment."

"For too long, environmentalism was seen as almost a luxury item -- something that you can afford to think about once you cover everything else," Jackson told the online audience. "But we now know, and President Obama knows, that it's anything but -- it's the basis for our prosperity. Clean air, clean water, clean land for all should be a given, but it's still unfinished business for us in the environmental movement."

At this forum, some of America's highest-ranking Federal agency directors and staff expressed concerns about climate catastrophes and climate justice victims to come. So, it is safe to say the catalyst for this renewed EJ IWG initiative is as much preparation for future climate injustices as concern for environmental justice victims of today.

Our Federal government leadership clearly knows climate change is real, and is preparing for the worst. That is news.

That the mainstream media seem to be completely overlooking these developments is even bigger news.

Perhaps it is as Joe Romm writes, on Climate Progress: "it appears to me that today’s media simply can’t cover humanity’s self-destruction.

So, expect, as Romm continues: "When historians write about this time — very, very bitterly, no doubt, if we have forced them to suffer through Hell and High Water — the media will get assigned plenty of blame for sins of omission, though obviously not as much blame as those who were actively working to spread disinformation and block action."

First White House Environmental Justice Forum - South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building
  First White House Environmental Justice Forum - South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building

My observation is the Obama White House is doing the opposite - "actively working to spread information and take action" - and the mainstream media is guilty "for sins of omission".

If I received a Press Release inviting me to cover the First White House Forum on Environmental Justice (albeit just the afternoon before the event), I'm sure all the environmental press in the world received the same.

If I could get to the White House on time - from Cleveland, Ohio, on my dime - the MSM fat-cats paid to cover Washington DC and the environment can get there too... some were asleep in the White House media briefing room throughout the forum.

Back of White House Press Briefing Room, between briefings
Back of White House Press Briefing Room - news reporters missing news breaking under their snoring noses

Why the "media" did not cover this historic occassion - why they are not covering the Obama administration's intelligent and transformational shift in environmental focus to those least advantaged Americans most impacted by pollution - is a good question for the media.

Perhaps the Mainstream Media does not care about the least advantaged Americans most impacted by pollution!?!?

Environmental Justice leader/victim speaking to panel at First White House Forum on Environmental Justice
Environmental Justice leader/victim speaking to panel at First White House Forum on Environmental Justice

These Environmental Justice developments and related news and supporting documentation reported here are certainly well covered by the Federal Government, on-line.

Regarding the overall shift in strategy of the Obama White House toward addressing Environmental Justice, core to our future, is the following:

In January 2010, Administrator Lisa P. Jackson made Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for Environmental Justice one of EPA’s key priorities. For far too long, environmentalism has been viewed as a distant issue for many minority, low-income, and indigenous people. That view has persisted despite the fact that these same people often experience higher levels (of) environmental pollution and other social and economic burdens that result in poorer health outcomes, and fewer financial or advocacy opportunities to spend on many activities, including “greening” their communities. This new priority challenges EPA to address the needs of overburdened communities by decreasing environmental burdens and increasing environmental benefits and to work alongside community stakeholders to build healthy and sustainable neighborhoods.

This is the introduction to U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY PLAN EJ 2014, released in DRAFT FOR PUBLIC COMMENT on JULY 27, 2010, to offer "an overarching strategy intended to advance EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priority to “expand the conversation on environmentalism and work for environmental justice.”"

What - you didn't learn about that "new priority" at EPA from your Mainstream Media... you weren't informed the EPA was seeking PUBLIC COMMENT on ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, just a few months ago... you didn't get to comment, as a result...!?!?

From the EPA Website, on Plan EJ2014:

The goals of the plan are to:

  • Protect health in communities over-burdened by pollution
  • Empower communities to take action to improve their health and environment
  • Establish partnerships with local, state, tribal and federal organizations to achieve healthy and sustainable communities.

Do you remember learning about the following related news, from your trusted news sources... as reported by the White House?:

On September 22, 2010 EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair, Nancy Sutley, reconvened the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG) in a meeting held at the White House. The meeting, attended by five cabinet members, demonstrates the federal government’s dedication to ensuring all Americans have strong federal protection from environmental and health hazards. Read the press release.

“Environmental challenges in low-income and minority communities are barriers to opportunity... We believe that the burdens these communities face are best approached with collaborative efforts, built on the strengths brought by a team of different federal agencies.” - EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Did you read about the study from the University of Southern California (USC) Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) - The Climate Gap: Inequalities in How Climate Change Hurts Americans & How to Close the Gap - with the assessment "Most Americans now concur that climate change is real, and could pose devastating consequences for our nation and our children. A new report out today reveals that an equally real and urgent problem is the “Climate Gap,” the often hidden and unequal harm climate change will cause people of color and the poor in the United States."

Download the report - Executive Summary - Full Report: fast download web version / high quality version - National Fact Sheet - Press Release

I believe this May, 2009, report helped form the foundation of understanding, throughout the United States Government, about the criticality of climate change and "Climate Gaps" in America, that led to the development of PLAN EJ 2014, the reconvening of the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG), and the organizing of the First White House Environmental Justice Forum.

This movement of US environmental policy toward interagency responsiveness to environmental justice, in recognition of "Climate gaps" and climate injustice, is about as big as anything in Washington, DC, may be.

You should know about these developments, America... WORLD.

The EJ IWG is the highest-level front-line demonstration ever that America is preparing organizationally and strategically for CLIMATE CHANGE, acknowledging certainty of CLIMATE INJUSTICE that is increasingly the number one concern of ELEVEN FEDERAL AGENCIES and SEVERAL WHITE HOUSE OFFICES ... including HOMELAND SECURITY and DEFENSE.

This story begins a new book in American environmental history - hopefully not the last - as ALL the US Federal government is mobilizing for the Age of Climate Injustice.

This first chapter is about how our Federal government is preparing to address coming climate injustice for all, at the highest level - big things like addressing rising tides displacing residents of entire cities, like New York City... providing Justice as Manhattan is becoming worth less than $24, forever.

You'd think that would make Page 1 of the New York Times, at least.

Increasing Climate Injustice shall certainly impact what current Environmental Injustice victims should expect of the Federal Government, now and in the future... which is not promising.

Worse CLIMATE injustices are ahead for many more Americans than ever suffered "recognized" environmental injustices in the past, as the rising tides and shifting winds shall carry more toxic waste and bad environmental outcomes to all. It is hard to say an old man dying with cancer from past uranium contamination on a blighted Reservation is living a less just life than 1,000,000s of Americans who shall lose their homes to flooding along the Atlantic coast, in the future... even though the future suffering along the coasts is avoidable, considering proper awareness of climate issues today (if the media in America were doing its job today).

Where do we draw the lines between Environmental Justice victims and CLIMATE FOOLS, and CLIMATE VILLAINS, in the future? That is for the EJ IWG to determine.

Who shall government bail-out, when Wall Street becomes a real disaster.

In the beginning, before those floods, the Federal government is reorganizing all relevant agencies to better address overall issues of ongoing environmental injustice in America, found largely among low-income families and minority communities.

In a press briefing announcing the reconvening of the EJ IWC, Jackson stated: “Environmental challenges in low-income and minority communities are barriers to opportunity. Dirty air, polluted water and contaminated lands degrade health and the environment while discouraging investments and economic growth. We believe that the burdens these communities face are best approached with collaborative efforts, built on the strengths brought by a team of different federal agencies. Revitalizing this workgroup creates an important chance to work together on environmental justice issues that have held back the prosperity of overburdened communities for far too long.

Nancy Sutley stated: “This country was built on the promise of equal opportunity for all of us, yet low-income families and minority communities shoulder a disproportionate amount of pollution and environmental degradation. We cannot and will not ignore these disparities. As the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, I am committed to ensuring that environmental justice isn’t just an afterthought - it’s an integral part of our mission.”.

To insure this renewed initiative has truly high-level interagency buy-in, the first EF IWG meeting was attended by Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Justice; Secretary Ken Salazar, Department of Interior; Secretary Shaun Donovan, Department of Housing and Urban Development; Secretary Ray LaHood, Department of Transportation; Administrator Martha Johnson, General Services Administration; Carol Browner, senior advisor to the president on energy and climate change; John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Melody Barnes, director of the White House Office of Domestic Policy; and representatives from the following federal agencies: Labor, Health and Human Services, Energy, Education, Homeland Security, Commerce, Army, Agriculture and Defense, among others.

Overkill for traditional environmental concerns, perhaps... but just the right team to develop America's response to new global climate change injustice.

The reestablishment of the EJIWG is no small undertaking. The official website for this group points out that their first meeting was "attended by five cabinet members, demonstrates the federal government’s dedication to ensuring all Americans have strong federal protection from environmental and health hazards."

EJ IWG Members

  • Environmental Protection Agency (Chair)
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of Interior
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Transportation
  • White House Offices

The First White House Environmental Justice Forum featured White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and brought together, as promised in the press release announcing the forum, "environmental justice and community leaders, cabinet members, and senior officials from federal, state, local and tribal governments for a discussion on creating a healthy and sustainable environment for all Americans". 

This is a force that may relocate towns away from pollution hazards, and pollution hazards away from towns, if that is necessary.

In Nancy Sutley's personal coverage of the Forum - A Promise of Environmental Justice for All Americans - on HER White House Blog, she states:

Last week, the Obama Administration hosted a first of its kind event – a White House forum to give a national voice to under-represented American communities that shoulder a disproportionate amount of pollution.  Environmental justice is a concept that began decades ago.  It's a movement that argues that every American, regardless of income level or minority status, deserves strong Federal protection from environmental and health hazards.

The White House Forum on Environmental Justice drew six Cabinet members, not to mention senior-level officials from agencies ranging from the Department of Labor, to the Department of Energy, to the Department of Justice.  This is just one indication of how much support environmental justice has at the highest levels of the Obama Administration; the best indication is the work underway at agencies across the Federal Government to design programs to reverse the inequity in these communities.

But the stars of the event were not the Administration officials – they were the environmental leaders that have fought for years or decades on behalf of their communities.  The purpose of the forum was to give them the microphone, not only to raise the visibility of environmental justice in this country, but to foster deeper interaction between policymakers and the people who live and breathe the impacts of those policies.

During the forum, more than 100 community leaders shared their expertise and displayed their passion for these issues throughout the day.  Many acknowledged the Administration's strong commitment to environmental justice and healthy communities.  But they also voiced frustration that their communities are still suffering from the impacts of decades of pollution, and pledged to keep pressing until they see environmental justice achieved. 

We expect and want no less.  We are working hard to get results that these communities can see on the ground.  And we will continue to have these discussions with environmental justice communities, and communities throughout America.

As reported by Greenwire and Sutley, it is the Federal Government that EJ victims blame for allowing industry to harm their families... and EJ victims blame for harming their families directly, like with the Army Corp of Engineers causing flood-catastrophy in New Orleans.

And the Army Corp attended the First White House Environmental Justice Forum, to face their critics and plan better... and Katrina victims were there to express their rage over past government injustices, and to seek solutions to new environmental injustices being forced upon citizens of New Orleans today.

Which means, at the First White House Environmental Justice Forum, President Obama had the guts to put the top Administrators and staff of around half the departments of government in front of a firing squad of some of the greatest victims of government EVER... grass-roots leaders of communities of truly harmed people, from tragic toxic disaster zones most only people read-about in newspapers (when newspapers do cover the environment)... from post-Katrina New Orleans, to the oil and coal industry killing fields of Texas, to strip-mined and polluted Kentucky, to uranium-contaminated Navajo country...  there was no shelter from this storm.

The media was welcome, and chose not to attend.

White House Media Stage with Eisenhower Executive Office Building in background
White House Media Stage with Eisenhower Executive Office Building in background (in renovation)

The leaders of the environmental justice movement in America are the victims of the worst pollution and toxins in the world... the worst injustices possible, IN OUR BACKYARDS!

WE are poisoned, mutated, dying and naturally and unnaturally pissed-off. I know, as I'm one of them, living in Cleveland, Ohio, with a little-known coal plant IN MY BACKYARD... a steel mill down the road... and lead poisoning in my family... all as results of failure by government to protect environmental justice there.

So I attended the First White House Environmental Justice Forum as a journalist, covering important news of White House environmental developments for my environmentally unjust community of Northeast Ohio - as I correctly suspected no other journalists from the area would bother to attend.

I wanted answers for myself and my family on why we are allowed to be poisoned excessively, when there is no need, and how the Federal government plans to help my family get the environmental justice we deserve.

I believe I was the only citizen for environmental justice in Northeast Ohio who showed-up to participate in this historic, landscape-changing Federal interagency engagement with victims.

Meaning, there is much knowledge to be shared, and work to be done, engaging citizens in environmental justice back home in Ohio and nation-wide.

I can't do all that in one article about one forum, so I introduce the background and some general concepts and developments of this renewed environmental justice movement here, now, and shall report deep analyses of the most important dynamics and developments as they are made more clear - this is a renewed effort in its infancy, despite the long time many victims have been fighting for justice.

Most important, in the ongoing coverage of environmental justice in America, under the Obama Administration, will be the stories of the victims of environmental injustice, explaining how and why they suffer today, becoming stories of how the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG) of the Federal government finally leads to relief.

For some reason, the "media" has failed to notice and cover this WHITE HOUSE shift of SIGNIFICANT Federal leadership attention and interagency resources, from out of thin air, to focus on the most important social cause possible: environmental justice for all, including the most disadvantaged. 

The "media" missed the greatest and most frightening development of their lives and careers. The EJ IWG is clearly focused far beyond current environmental injustices... like those poor slobs who are lead poisoned in Cleveland each day... to the increasing environmental catastrophes caused by global climate change, which shall cause unprecedented CLIMATE INJUSTICE for a huge percentage of Americans, nationwide.

When kicking-off the First White House Forum on Environmental Justice, Jackson promised attendees - comprised largely of environmental justice VICTIMS - "Folks, I am in no ways tired, and I know we have work to do".

She stated: "It's been my mission at EPA to expand our conversation to diversify the voices of those calling for change in the environmental sector. Since my first day as Administrator, we've reached out to communities that need our help - we've worked to make environmental justice part of everything we do."

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius speaking at the First White House Environmental Justice Forum

I believe it was Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius who commented, in her opening remarks at this Forum, that it was unprecedented for so many Federal agencies - and cabinet-level leaders and senior White House staff - to work together. That they had came together for environmental justice - in a matter for months - was clear acknowledgement of their respect for the vision, impact and effectiveness of EPA Administrator Jackson, who convened them for this cause.... and the strength of their personal belief in the importance of the cause of environmental justice, to their core.

She acknowledged EJ has not historically been a focus of HHS - especially in recent years - but HHS realizes health is greatly impacted by environmental factors - the "social determinacy of health" - and appreciates there is environmental injustice to be addressed today. EJ efforts may have the greatest health paybacks of all. HHS is committed to developing EJ best practices benefiting public health one community at a time, knowing "an ounce of prevention can take a ton of work".

"Promote Health in all policies - Healthy communities are resilient communities - Our department is eager to work on these issues - with all of you - more broadly and inclusively - the change EJ leaders are seeking is best formulated at the community level" The words of Health and Human Services in America.

In the case of Homeland Security, Secretary Napolitano made clear threats to our environment - threats to the healthy well-being of Americans - are threats to our national security.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano  speaking at the First White House Environmental Justice Forum, on December 15, 2010
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
speaking at the First White House Environmental Justice Forum

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar (and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano) at the First White House Environmental Justice Forum
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar (and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano) at the First White House Environmental Justice Forum

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar - caretaker of our National Parks - expressed his commitment to equal access to environmental justice and resources, including access to abundant open public space to play and breathe, for all Americans.

Attorney General Eric Holder made clear environmental injustice is a crime, of concern to the Justice Department, and that he is committed to fighting the crime of environmental injustice in America.

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis stressed Americans must work their way to environmental justice, with GREEN JOBS, and the victims of environmental justice now must have access to those jobs created to make the world more just in the future - job creation is part of the environmental justice creation equation...

So much good insight offered by our leadership, that eventful day. screenshot of Lisa Jackson speaking at First White House Environmental Justice Forum screenshot of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson speaking at First White House Environmental Justice Forum

For those unable to attend, the First White House Forum on Environmental Justice was broadcast live online.  An archived version (around 6 hours of video) can be viewed on the White House YouTube page:

• Part 1: (1:39:42)
• Part 2: (1:19:29)
• Part 3: (1:37:55)
• Part 4: (1:24:53)

In addition, EPA Administrator Jackson and Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, took questions from students and Facebook participants during a live online chat.  To watch, visit:


Tulane University Green Wave Mascot Logo 
Special US EPA version of Tulane University "Green Wave" mascot - shown with Administrator Jackson, Class of 1983

Perhaps all this action to address environmental injustice is an expression of EPA Administrator Jackson's intimate appreciation for the plight of environmental injustice victims of her town of New Orleans, that resulted from inept Government and natural disaster.

And, in fact, the bigger story and environmental development at play at the EPA, under Jackson, is what I'll call the "Green Wave Rising", as Jackson is a graduate of New Orleans' Tulane University (same class as myself), where the Green Wave is the mascot, and she has clearly brought to the EPA innovative new approaches to environmentalism that are sweeping over all government.

Another recent example of the Green Wave Rising I reported at the EPA is Study Will Recommend Ways to Strengthen Sustainability at EPA

November 30, 2010 -- The National Research Council, at the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has launched a study to strengthen the scientific basis for incorporating sustainability concepts into EPA’s decision-making. “Today I am formally requesting President Cicerone and the National Academies convene a committee of experts to provide to the U.S. EPA an operational framework for sustainability that applies across all of the agency’s programs, policies, and actions,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson at an event held at the National Academy of Sciences’ Koshland Science Museum.

There are many other examples of Jackson's unique excellence.

Despite disappointment in politicians and the media that do not yet recognize the importance of climate change and environmental justice for Americans, and the world, and the harm that caused the environment and people of the world, in 2010, I view Jackson as the Environmentalist of the Year - and consider 2010 the Year of the Green Wave Rising - in recognition of Jackson's significant strategic and organizational innovations at the EPA, driving greater interagency cooperation on environmental justice between the White House, EPA and around a dozen other agencies of the Federal Government.

Despite MANY, MANY well acknowledged environmental set-backs in 2010, I've got Lisa Jackson's back.

Pollution From Arcalor Mittal Cleveland Works Steel Mill Killing People of North East Ohio in 2010

As an environmental injustice victim from environmentally unjust Cleveland, Ohio - with ties to environmentally unjust New Orleans - I especially value Jackson's focus on Environmental Justice for all, in all government decisions, which I consider the most important US environmental policy development of the first decade of the 21st Century (not recognized by any other media source I can find).

Coming from Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, it is little surprise Administrator Jackson is focused on environmental justice (EJ), which is increasingly intersecting with Climate Justice.  Jackson's friends and family have lived through the worst EJ disaster nature and the US government have thrown at American citizens, since the days of lead in gasoline and paint.

And her job addressing the aftermath of Katrina is far from done, as recently made clear to her by Katrina-impacted Environmental Injustice victims who attended the First White House Forum on Environmental Justice.

Around the beginning of 2010, EPA Administrator Jackson issued a memorandum to her staff, below, outlining her vision for the EPA in the year ahead. Looking back at her performance, she seems to be fulfilling her mission.

Other leadership of the Federal government seem to see Jackson's vision, and clearly see value in following that, as well.

Leaders of the Environmental Justice movement - victims of Environmental Injustice today - see Jackson's vision, and are supporting America moving forward, despite the harm America has caused US.

Yet the American media is failing US - failing Administrator Jackson - failing their President - failing Americans and the world.

That is a fact.

What do they teach in Journalism School? What do they teach in the board rooms of American mainstream media?

Clearly not what people have learned from living in New Orleans.

Clearly not what the true leaders of this nation know and must know to lead America to greatness again, if possible.

If possible, Lisa Jackson will make it so.

From: Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator
To: All EPA Employees                                             Administrator Jackson unveils seven priorities for EPA


Almost one year ago, I began my work as Administrator.  It has been a deeply fulfilling 12 months and a wonderful homecoming for me.  As our first year together draws to a close, we must now look to the tasks ahead.

In my First Day Memo, I outlined five priorities for my time as Administrator.  We have made enormous strides on all five, and our achievements reflect your hard work and dedication.  By working with our senior policy team, listening to your input and learning from the experiences of the last 12 months, we have strengthened our focus and expanded the list of priorities.  Listed below are seven key themes to focus the work of our agency. 

Taking Action on Climate Change: Last year saw historic progress in the fight against climate change, with a range of greenhouse gas reduction initiatives.  We must continue this critical effort and ensure compliance with the law.  We will continue to support the President and Congress in enacting clean energy and climate legislation.  Using the Clean Air Act, we will finalize our mobile source rules and provide a framework for continued improvements in that sector.  We will build on the success of ENERGY STAR to expand cost-saving energy conservation and efficiency programs.  And we will continue to develop common-sense solutions for reducing GHG emissions from large stationary sources like power plants.  In all of this, we must also recognize that climate change will affect other parts of our core mission, such as protecting air and water quality, and we must include those considerations in our future plans.

Improving Air Quality: American communities face serious health and environmental challenges from air pollution.  We have already proposed stronger ambient air quality standards for ozone, which will help millions of American breathe easier and live healthier.  Building on that, EPA will develop a comprehensive strategy for a cleaner and more efficient power sector, with strong but achievable emission reduction goals for SO2, NOx, mercury and other air toxics. We will strengthen our ambient air quality standards for pollutants such as PM, SO2 and NO2 and will achieve additional reductions in air toxics from a range of industrial facilities.  Improved monitoring, permitting and enforcement will be critical building blocks for air quality improvement.

Assuring the Safety of Chemicals: One of my highest priorities is to make significant and long overdue progress in assuring the safety of chemicals in our products, our environment and our bodies.  Last year I announced principles for modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act. Separately, we are shifting EPA’s focus to address high-concern chemicals and filling data gaps on widely produced chemicals in commerce.  At the end of 2009, we released our first-ever chemical management plans for four groups of substances, and more plans are in the pipeline for 2010.  Using our streamlined Integrated Risk Information System, we will continue strong progress toward rigorous, peer-reviewed health assessments on dioxins, arsenic, formaldehyde, TCE and other substances of concern.

Cleaning Up Our Communities: In 2009 EPA made strong cleanup progress by accelerating our Superfund program and confronting significant local environmental challenges like the asbestos Public Health Emergency in Libby, Montana and the coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee.  Using all the tools at our disposal, including enforcement and compliance efforts, we will continue to focus on making safer, healthier communities.  I am committed to maximizing the potential of our brownfields program, particularly to spur environmental cleanup and job creation in disadvantaged communities.  We are also developing enhanced strategies for risk reduction in our Superfund program, with stronger partnerships with stakeholders affected by our cleanups.

Protecting America’s Waters: America’s waterbodies are imperiled as never before.  Water quality and enforcement programs face complex challenges, from nutrient loadings and stormwater runoff, to invasive species and drinking water contaminants.  These challenges demand both traditional and innovative strategies.  We will continue comprehensive watershed protection programs for the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes.  We will initiate measures to address post-construction runoff, water quality impairment from surface mining, and stronger drinking water protection.  Recovery Act funding will expand construction of water infrastructure, and we will work with states to develop nutrient limits and launch an Urban Waters initiative.  We will also revamp enforcement strategies to achieve greater compliance across the board.

Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for Environmental Justice: We have begun a new era of outreach and protection for communities historically underrepresented in EPA decision-making.  We are building strong working relationships with tribes, communities of color, economically distressed cities and towns, young people and others, but this is just a start.  We must include environmental justice principles in all of our decisions.  This is an area that calls for innovation and bold thinking, and I am challenging all of our employees to bring vision and creativity to our programs.  The protection of vulnerable subpopulations is a top priority, especially with regard to children.  Our revitalized Children’s Health Office is bringing a new energy to safeguarding children through all of our enforcement efforts.  We will ensure that children’s health protection continues to guide the path forward.

Building Strong State and Tribal Partnerships: States and tribal nations bear important responsibilities for the day-to-day mission of environmental protection, but declining tax revenues and fiscal challenges are pressuring state agencies and tribal governments to do more with fewer resources.  Strong partnerships and accountability are more important than ever.  EPA must do its part to support state and tribal capacity and, through strengthened oversight, ensure that programs are consistently delivered nationwide.  Where appropriate, we will use our own expertise and capacity to bolster state and tribal efforts.

We will also focus on improving EPA’s internal operations, from performance measures to agency processes.  We have a complex organization — which is both an asset and a challenge.  We will strive to ensure that EPA is a workplace worthy of our top notch workforce.  Our success will depend on supporting innovation and creativity in both what we do and how we do it, and I encourage everyone to be part of constructively improving our agency.

These priorities will guide our work in 2010 and the years ahead.  They are built around the challenges and opportunities inherent in our mission to protect human health and the environment for all Americans.  We will carry out our mission by respecting our core values of science, transparency and the rule of law. I have unlimited confidence in the talent and spirit of our workforce, and I will look to your energy, ideas and passion in the days ahead.  I know we will meet these challenges head on, as one EPA.

Lisa P. Jackson


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