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EPA Environmental Justice Workshop in Houston

Release Date: 08/11/2014
Contact Information: Joe Hubbard or Jennah Durant at 214-665-2200 or

DALLAS – (Aug. 11, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS), Texas Southern University (TSU), Environmental Justice Health Alliance, other distinguished environmental organizations and guests recently celebrated 20 years of Environmental Justice in Houston, Texas.

On Aug. 6 – 8, more than 250 people attended a conference designed to foster tangible solutions to address environmental, social and health impacts associated with environmental pollution in poor and minority areas.
The event also provided a variety of networking opportunities with environmental justice leaders and organizations. The conference started with a tour around Houston’s petrochemical plants, oil refineries, animal feed facilities and waste processing complexes to see and understand inequities associated with the area.

The principles of environmental justice uphold the idea that all communities overburdened by pollution – particularly minority, low income and indigenous communities – deserve the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, equal access to the decision-making process and a healthy environment in which to live, learn and work.

The audience was also welcomed with remarks from EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry.
“Environmental Justice is about making a visible difference in communities across the country,” said Regional Administrator Curry. “This conference helped build capacity, raise awareness, and equip communities with the tools to address environmental challenges – from climate change impacts to water pollution. It takes work, time and energy to demonstrate that communities across the country want common sense climate solutions.”

Several noted supporters of environmental justice also joined Regional Administrator Curry during the conference including but not limited to: Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee; Jacqui Patterson, Director, Environmental and Climate Justice NAACP; Juan Parras, TEJAS; Matthew Tejada, Director – EPA Office of Environmental Justice; Hilton Kelley, Community In-power and Development Association; Dr. Robert Bullard, Dean School of Public Affairs, TSU; Juanita Lopez, Assistant Administrator, South Texas Colonias Initiative; and Michele Roberts, Environmental Justice Health Alliance.

The conference, that 17 college volunteers helped organize, aimed to bring together local community activists, citizens, state and federal agencies, academia, business and industry, non-profit organizations, and other stakeholders to build relationships that will benefit their communities and promote sustainable growth. Throughout the three-day conference, panelists of federal and state government officials, educators, industry professionals and EJ advocates delivered presentations and moderated discussions on environmental issues. The goals of this year’s conference included:

      Bringing together grassroots organizations and partners, local officials and government entities to better understand today’s environmental justice challenges

      Building sustainable relationships through strategic exchanges, lessons learned and best
        practices that lead to healthier communities

      Broadening decision making skills via better understanding of environmental processes and requirements

      Participating in a collaborative process to draft a Region 6 EJ State Action Plan that addresses region-wide priorities
      Over the past 20 years, the agency has made substantial progress in developing both its tribal and environmental justice programs. Building on EPA’s Plan EJ 2014, the policy integrates 17 environmental justice and civil rights principles. The plan also identifies existing informational and resource tools to support EPA in its endeavor to take action on environmental justice issues.

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