Last Thursday morning, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed two environmental justice bills, introduced by Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-CA), that help protect minority and low-income communities from being disproportionately burdened by environmental problems. They are (quoted from Solis’ office):

S.642/H.R. 1103 – Environmental Justice Act of 2007 – This legislation requires the implementation of the Clinton Executive Order on environmental justice, and strengthens federal efforts to address environmental justice problems. It also requires agencies to implement environmental justice recommendations from the Government Accountability Office and EPA’s Inspector General. Senator Durbin is the lead author of the Senate bill – Rep. Solis authored the House version.

S.2549/H.R. 5132 – Environmental Justice Renewal Act – This legislation requires federal agencies to implement plans to identify and then reduce or eliminate environmental justice threats, and to expand their efforts to gather information about environmental justice problems and help develop solutions to such serious issues. Senator Clinton is the lead author of the Senate bill – Rep. Solis authored the House version.

Given that the current Congressional term ends in late September, it is unlikely that these bills will move further this term. However, the passing of these two bills out of committee makes it much more likely that they will be green-lighted if and when they are re-introduced next term.

We would like to thank Congresswoman Solis for being a champion on this important, under-recognized justice issue. And also to pass on the information, for those of you who live in the Los Angeles area, that Rep. Solis will be holding an event on August 21, 2008 from 10am – Noon at the East Los Angeles Skills Center titled “Greening Our Capitol, Greening Our Communities: Affordable, Effective Green Investments.” The briefing will give information on ways to incorporate effective, affordable green strategies.

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Kat Liu

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