WE ACT in Washington, DC

The latest news from our Federal Policy Office in Washington, DC…

Peggy Shepard Opens Climate Town Hall
As WE ACT becomes an increasingly recognized and sought-after voice in Washington, Peggy Shepard was asked to provide the opening remarks for Climate Town Hall with U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, Chair of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which called for robust climate action in the 117th Congress and the Biden-Harris administration. Watch the Video

Green Jobs Report with the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum
In partnership with the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum, we released our Green Jobs Report, offering community-based solutions for a diverse green jobs workforce. You can watch the video in which we discuss the importance of a Just Transition in addressing climate change with our panel of distinguished guest, including Michael B. Gerrard, Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law; Beverly Wright, Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice; and Donele Wilkins, CEO & President of the Green Door Initiative as well as our own Peggy Shepard, Charles Callaway, and Kerene Tayloe.

One Year Anniversary of the Equitable & Just National Climate Platform
“The Equitable and Just National Climate Platform foretold the need for collaboration in addressing legacy racial harms; responding to attacks on environmental protections; and achieving our national climate goals when it was launched a year ago. Today, as our nation engages in collective recognition and response to the influence of racism on the policies and practices that impact communities of color, we can look to the platform as a roadmap for collectively furthering the bold and just solutions needed to create healthy communities. I acknowledge this historic moment and look forward to continuing to work with fellow signatories to advance the mission of the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform.”

Trump Administration Gut of the National Environmental Policy Act
“Millions of Americans do not have access to clean air and water or the opportunity to live, learn, play or work in a toxic-free environment. The National Environmental Policy Act has been a tool to mitigate further environmental degradation in our communities and to combat new aggressions against our health and quality of life. We do not accept that the proposed changes to NEPA are an effort to ‘modernize’ this bedrock environmental protection in a way that will honor and support those on the frontlines of environmental racism, climate change or economic injustices. The changes proposed by the White House Council on Environmental Quality are a thinly veiled effort to advance large-scale projects, such as pipelines, highways and bridges, that will benefit polluters without considering the cumulative and life-altering impacts on effected communities. This is a missed opportunity to build an even stronger protection that places the needs of all our communities ahead of industry.”

House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis – Climate Crisis Action Plan
“The COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate havoc in communities of color and low income is a symptom of a larger issue: a legacy of structural racism that resulted in policies and practices that facilitate extreme weather zones, economic impoverishment, environmental degradation, diminished health states, a lack of social cohesion, and other adverse living conditions. This is our time to address this legacy and the Climate Crisis Action Plan can be an effective tool for advancing substantive discourse and producing just laws that center remediation in climate policy, deliver energy democracy and economic benefit to low-income communities, improve indoor and outdoor air quality to actually meet attainment standards, and produce green spaces and healthy food systems that positively influence our morbidity and mortality rates. We look forward to working with members of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and all of our congressional leaders to create bold and equitable solutions that deliver on the pillars of the Climate Crisis Action Plan, where appropriate, and that lead to tangible gains in resolving the climate crisis.”

Climate Change: Build Back Better Plan
“It is a well-documented fact that the climate crisis is most deeply felt in environmental justice communities – places where people of color and those of low-income reside. We need bold ideas and comprehensive plans that will address the legacy of environmental harms that persist where we live, play, and work and that contribute to poor health outcomes, economic instability, and climate fragility. This is our time to act and the infrastructure, transit, power sector, buildings and conservation ideas offered in the ‘Build Back Better Plan’ are a significant first step for responding to the ambivalence and structural racism that is prolonging the climate crisis.

Also, I was the first woman to Chair the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) to the Environmental Protection Agency. During my tenure as Chair, which lasted from 2001-2003, I witnessed a disregard of Title VI administrative complaints and a lack of accountability and reporting on the agency’s progress in addressing environmental degradation in our communities. We must restore and strengthen accountability, compliance and reporting within the EPA by:

  • Adopting the mandate for a report card that tracks the agency’s progress in achieving its environmental justice goals as framed in the Build Better Back Plan.
  • Finalizing cumulative impacts guidance developed several years ago and detail methodologies for states to conduct cumulative impacts assessments.
  • Re-organizing to have the Office of Environmental Justice sit within the Office of Environmental Compliance, hire an experienced and respected Director to lead the department, and increase the area budget to at least $20 million.
  • Committing to a real partnership with NEJAC by advancing the recommendations provided by the advisory group and continuously assessing the relationship via the report card.
  • Earmarking funds for grants that support academic and environmental justice advocacy partnerships that lead to science-based and data-driven solutions to environmental justice issues.”

Read our 2020 Federal Policy Agenda.

Read the latest news about our work in New York City and New York State.

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