EPA Administrator Christie Whitman, in a memo to top agency officials, last week reaffirmed the agency''s commitment to environmental justice and its integration into all programs, policies and activities consistent with existing environmental laws and their regulations.
In the memo, Whitman said environmental justice means fair treatment of people of all races, cultures and incomes with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of all environmental risks and hazards in minority or low-income communities.
"Application of these existing statuatory provisions is an important part of this agency''s effort to prevent those communities from being subject to disproportionately high and adverse impacts and envioronmental effects," said Whitman.
Fair treatment means that no group of people, including a racial, ethnic or social economic groups should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local and tribal programs and policies.
"Environmental justice is achieved when everyone, regardless or race, culture or income enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn and work," said Whitman.
The administrator stressed that the agency would need to conduct the programs and activities that substantially affect human health and the environment in a manner that ensures the fair treatment of all people, including minority populations and/or low-income poplulations.
Further information is available at es.epa.gov/oeca/main/ej.
by Virginia Foran