Lawmakers to Obama: Do More on Environmental Justice

Progressive Caucus cochairs ask the president to amend his climate action plan.

The AES Corporation 495-megawatt Alamitos natural gas-fired power station stands on October 1, 2009 in Long Beach, California. The Obama administration has announced that rather than wait for Congress to act, it has authorized the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward on enacting new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions emitted from hundreds of power plants and large industrial facilities. 
National Journal
Elahe Izadi
Feb. 27, 2014, 3:11 p.m.

Some en­vir­on­ment­al-justice ad­voc­ates have been push­ing the White House to make their cause a big­ger part of Pres­id­ent Obama’s second-term cli­mate plan, and now they’re be­ing joined by mem­bers of Con­gress.

While laud­ing the “Cli­mate Ac­tion Plan” to ad­dress glob­al warm­ing, Pro­gress­ive Caucus Co­chairs Keith El­lis­on and Raul Gri­jalva ask in a let­ter to be sent to Obama “that the CAP ex­pli­citly ad­dress the unique en­vir­on­ment­al justice con­cerns of low-in­come, minor­ity, in­di­gen­ous, and Nat­ive Amer­ic­an com­munit­ies across the coun­try.”

The Demo­crats write in the let­ter, shared with Na­tion­al Journ­al, that “cli­mate change com­pounds ex­ist­ing in­equit­ies. Droughts, floods, wild­fires, and ex­treme weath­er events in­crease the vul­ner­ab­il­ity of people liv­ing in areas with lim­ited cli­mate re­si­li­ency — com­munit­ies with poor air qual­ity, un­safe hous­ing, and in­suf­fi­cient re­sources to plan, pre­pare and re­cov­er from ex­treme weath­er.” The law­makers also note how cli­mate change af­fects pub­lic health for people liv­ing in poor and minor­ity com­munit­ies.

Some en­vir­on­ment­al act­iv­ists have been con­cerned that Obama’s cli­mate plan un­veiled last June doesn’t ad­dress en­vir­on­ment­al justice con­cerns more spe­cific­ally; a white­house.gov pe­ti­tion to that ef­fect ex­pired in late 2013 be­cause it didn’t meet the sig­na­ture threshold.

This month marks the 20th an­niversary of Pres­id­ent Clin­ton’s ex­ec­ut­ive or­der on “Fed­er­al Ac­tions to Ad­dress En­vir­on­ment­al Justice in Minor­ity Pop­u­la­tions and Low-In­come Pop­u­la­tions.” It re­quires fed­er­al agen­cies to identi­fy and ad­dress how their policies may cre­ate ad­verse hu­man health or en­vir­on­ment­al ef­fects for those com­munit­ies.

On the an­niversary of Clin­ton’s sign­ing, Obama is­sued a pro­clam­a­tion that high­lights the work of his ad­min­is­tra­tion in re­con­ven­ing the En­vir­on­ment­al Justice In­ter­agency Work­ing Group after 10 years of in­ac­tion, and ef­forts to re­duce pol­lu­tion on tri­bal lands. Obama also pledged to cut car­bon emis­sions and de­vel­op do­mest­ic clean en­ergy for the good of “over­burdened com­munit­ies.”

MOST READ
What We're Following See More »
PHOTO OP
Clinton Shows Up on Stage to Close Obama’s Speech
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

Just after President Obama finished his address to the DNC, Hillary Clinton walked out on stage to join him, so the better could share a few embraces, wave to the crowd—and let the cameras capture all the unity for posterity.

‘DON’T BOO. VOTE.’
Obama: Country Is Stronger Than Eight Years Ago
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

In a speech that began a bit like a State of the Union address, President Obama said the "country is stronger and more prosperous than it was" when he took office eight years ago. He then talked of battling Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2008, and discovering her "unbelievable work ethic," before saying that no one—"not me, not Bill"—has ever been more qualified to be president. When his first mention of Donald Trump drew boos, he quickly admonished the crowd: "Don't boo. Vote." He then added that Trump is "not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either."

‘HILLARY CLINTON HAS A PASSION’
Kaine Sticks Mostly to the Autobiography
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Tim Kaine introduced himself to the nation tonight, devoting roughly the first half of his speech to his own story (peppered with a little of his fluent Spanish) before pivoting to Hillary Clinton—and her opponent. "Hillary Clinton has a passion for children and families," he said. "Donald Trump has a passion, too: himself." His most personal line came after noting that his son Nat just deployed with his Marine battalion. "I trust Hillary Clinton with our son's life," he said.

TRUMP IS A ‘CON’
Bloomberg: Neither Party Has a Monopoly on Good Ideas
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Michael Bloomberg said he wasn't appearing to endorse any party or agenda. He was merely there to support Hillary Clinton. "I don't believe that either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership," he said, before enumerating how he disagreed with both the GOP and his audience in Philadelphia. "Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence," he said. "Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction." Calling Donald Trump a "dangerous demagogue," he said, "I'm a New Yorker, and a know a con when I see one."

TRUMP’S ‘CYNICISM IS UNBOUNDED’
Biden: Obama ‘One of the Finest Presidents’
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Vice President Biden tonight called President Obama "one of the finest presidents we have ever had" before launching into a passionate defense of Hillary Clinton. "Everybody knows she's smart. Everybody knows she's tough. But I know what she's passionate about," he said. "There's only one person in this race who will help you. ... It's not just who she is; it's her life story." But he paused to train some fire on her opponent "That's not Donald Trump's story," he said. "His cynicism is unbounded. ... No major party nominee in the history of this country has ever known less."

×