FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2007
CONTACT: Robert D. Bullard
Phone: (404) 880-6920
Environmental Justice Activists to Hold Press Conference at USSF to Demand U.S. Officials End Toxic Racism
National Campaign to Focus on Implementing Recommendations in the Recently Released Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty Report
ATLANTA, Ga., -- A dozen environmental justice networks, representing hundreds of African American, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Native American grassroots organizations from Alaska to Puerto Rico, will host a press conference at the United States Social Forum (USSF) Women, Healing, Health and Environmental Justice Tent (Atlanta Civic Center, 395 Piedmont Avenue) on Friday, June 29, at 11:00am, to demand U.S. officials, including Congressional leaders, the Presidential Candidates, and the Bush Administration, take immediate action to address environmental health emergencies in low-income and people of color communities.
Environmental Justice Network leaders and their civil rights, human rights, and health allies are demanding that the nation’s elected officials take immediate steps to end environmental injustice and toxic racism as clearly documented in the new Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty: 1987-2007 study, released March 2007 by the United Church of Christ (UCC).
Joining EJ network leaders will be Drs. Robert D. Bullard and Beverly Wright, two of the principal authors of the report (Paul Mohai and Robin Saha are the other report co-authors). The report findings show that environmental laws don’t protect communities of color and Native/Indigenous any more than they did twenty years ago when the original UCC report was commissioned.
A disproportionately large numbers of people of color still live in hazardous waste host communities and people of color are not equally protected by environmental laws. The UCC report is consistent with a long list of studies, including those showing Native Americans have to contend with some of the worst pollution in the United States, including mining, energy extraction, and where their lands have become the dumping grounds for household garbage, toxic wastes, and nuclear wastes. The report also confirms a 2005 Associated Press study that found African Americans were 79 percent more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where industrial pollution is suspected of posing the greatest health danger. The AP study also found blacks in 19 states were more than twice as likely as whites to live in neighborhoods with high pollution; a similar pattern was discovered for Hispanics in 12 states and Asians in seven states.
Over nine million people live in host neighborhoods within two miles of one of 413 hazardous waste facilities nationwide. The UCC study found that the proportion of people of color in host neighborhoods is almost twice that of the proportion of people of color living in non-host neighborhoods. Host neighborhoods are typically economically depressed, with poverty rates 1.5 times that of non-host communities. Today, people of color make up the majority (56%) of the residents living in neighborhoods within two miles of the nation’s commercial hazardous waste facilities, nearly double the percentage in areas beyond two miles (30%). They also make up more than two-thirds (69%) of the residents in neighborhoods with clustered facilities. Percentages of African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Asians/Pacific Islanders in host neighborhoods are 1.7, 2.3, and 1.8 times greater in host neighborhoods than non-host areas (20% vs. 12%, 27% vs. 12%, and 6.7% vs. 3.6%), respectively.
Forty of 44 states (90%) with hazardous waste facilities have disproportionately high percentages of people of color in host neighborhoods– on average about two times greater than the percentages in non-host areas (44% vs. 23%). Nine out of ten EPA regions have racial disparities in the location of hazardous waste facilities.
The 180-page report gives more than three dozen recommendations for action at the Congressional, state and local levels to help remedy the disparities. Ten points from the report are highlighted to reverse this downward spiral, including:
1. Hold Congressional Hearings on EPA Response to Contamination in EJ Communities;
2. Pass a National Environmental Justice Act Codifying the Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898;
3. Provide a Legislative “Fix” for Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that was gutted by the 2001 Alexander v. Sandoval U.S. Supreme Court decision that requires intent, rather than disparate impact, to prove discrimination;
4. Require Assessments of Cumulative Pollution Burdens in Facility Permitting;
5. Require Safety Buffers in Facility Permitting;
6. Protect and Enhance Community and Worker Right-to-Know;
7. Enact Legislation Promoting Clean Production and Waste Reduction;
8. Adopt Green Procurement Policies and Clean Production Tax Policies;
9. Reinstate the Superfund tax.
10. Establish Tax Increment Finance (TIP) Funds to Promote Environmental Justice-Driven Community Development
Network leaders want officials to act now. They insist their communities cannot wait another twenty years. For more information:
- Dr. Robert Bullard, Clark Atlanta University: (678) 725-0535; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr. Beverly Wright, Dillard University: (504) 782-8989; email@example.com
- Donele Wilkins, National Black Environmental Justice Network: (313) 478-2398; Dwdwej@aol.com
- Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network: (218) 760-0442; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cecil Corbin Mark, Northeast Environmental Justice Network: (917) 501-4980, email@example.com
- Christina Saeteurn, Asian Pacific Environmental Network: 510-258-1878, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nelson Carasquillo, Farmworkers Network for Environmental and Economic Justice: (609) 876-5250, Catanj@aol.com