What is Environmental Justice?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines environmental justice, as fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Fair treatment means that no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental, or commercial operations, or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal programs and policies. Meaningful involvement means that potentially affected community residents have an appropriate opportunity to participate in decision-making about a proposed activity that will affect their environment and/or health.
Environmental justice is an integral part of Region 4's mission. The Region, states, tribes, and affected communities work together to ensure equitable environmental and public health protection through effective implementation of policies and procedures.
In the southeast, the Environmental Justice Program is responsible for integrating environmental justice into the region's programs, policies, and procedures. Also, the Program promotes the integration of environmental justice into local, state, and federal government programs, policies, and procedures. In addition, the Program encourages stakeholder involvement in environmental justice by providing workshops and training.
Other major functions of the Program include managing environmental justice grants and processing environmental justice inquiries and complaints. The grants are awarded on an annual basis to eligible community groups and federally recognized 2 governments that are working on or planning to carry out projects to address environmental justice issues. Inquiries and complaints are reported to the Environmental Violations web site.
2012 EJ Small Grant Award Recipients
Legacy Village Inc. (Carry and Rolling Fork, MS) seeks to organize, educate and build capacity among Cary and Rolling Fork residents and property owners, helping them to identify and address potential harmful contaminants found in drinking water, homes, and air. The project addresses these concerns in a two phase approach that incorporates community education and research to address environmental vulnerabilities and health risk among residents. Activities include community forums, neighborhood outreach, networking with faith based organizations and data collection and analysis.
Mobile Baykeepers, Inc. (Mobile, AL) will train residents in communities surrounding Threemile Creek to conduct long-term monitoring of local waterways. Through data collection and analysis, the community will develop strategies to reduce impacts from stormwater runoff. The project will meet its goal by establishing a comprehensive outreach and education campaign, community cleanup efforts and a coalition of residents dedicated to sustain clean waterways.
Cape Fear River Watch Inc. (Wilmington, NC) intends to address the lack of affordable environmental education for children living in the Greenfield Lake Burnt Mill Creek Watershed. The organization will establish environmentally-focused camps for underserved children ages 8 to 17. The camps, with activities focused on learning about the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, will teach participants to be excellent stewards of the environment through personal action. Students will gain experience in scientific methods related to the survey of water quality and field work. Learning data analysis will lead to finding solutions to minimize negative impacts on local waterways. Students will also be encouraged to make real world connections and develop critical thinking skills through the exploration of New Hanover County Watershed.
Toxic Free North Carolina (Raleigh, NC) seeks to improve the health and safety of migrant and seasonal farmworkers through education about pesticide exposure by creating a plain language analysis of EPA’s Worker Protection Standards available in both Spanish and French. The project will develop and deliver a series of training sessions throughout North Carolina. These sessions will cover workers’ rights as they relate to pesticides in the workplace and EPA’s proposed revisions to the Worker Protection Standard. The project hopes to encourage immigrant and low-income workers to become engaged in local federal rulemaking process that may impact their health, safety and welfare.
Farmworker Association of Florida (Apopka, FL) seeks to find a resolution to the under-reporting of pesticides related illnesses and lack of health education for area farmworkers. The organization will fund a special initiative to its Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health (PSEH) Project. The work of this initiative, which involves monitoring working conditions and education on toxic substances, aligns with the Toxic Substances Control Act and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Through the PSEH Project, the Farmworkers Association will help to reduce pesticide exposure, improve the health of farmworkers and train healthcare providers to address health issues that stem from pesticide exposure.
Museum of Science (Miami, FL) will support a Hydroponic Garden (HUG) Project designed to raise awareness regarding agricultural chemicals and processed foods in Miami’s ethically-diverse Coconut Grove/Coral Way Community. The HUG Project will highlight the broad environmental benefits of urban hydroponic systems as well as the nutritional benefits derived from incorporating more fresh produce into urban diets. The Museum will develop a field trip curriculum focused on a hands-on learning approach. By establishing hydroponic gardens at five local elementary schools, the HUG Project will educate young people, area schools and families about viable alternatives to potentially-harmful fertilizers and pesticides used in modern industrial agriculture.