A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act Prioritizes Protections and Investments
In honor of the late, great Representative, the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act was reintroduced in the House and Senate on Wednesday, March 22. Often referred to as “The People’s Bill,” the legislation is rooted in the moral principle that everyone has the right to pure air, clean water, and an environment that enriches life.
In the last six months alone, our region has experienced numerous devastating disasters that lay bare the dangers of fossil fuel extraction and the entire supply chain associated with dig, burn, and dump cycles. See evidence in the climate-induced flooding in eastern Kentucky, the Norfolk Southern train derailments in Ohio, Michigan, and Alabama, and the ongoing blasting of the mountains in Southern West Virginia.
Through the Environmental Justice For All Act, communities are coming together to take action against the myriad ways corporate resource extraction and exploitation affect all of us. The cumulative impacts of generations-long exploitation by fossil fuel companies nationwide are reason enough for us to find a common cause.
We believe all people are experts of their own lives and that we all deserve a seat at the table in determining the future of our communities. The EJ For All Act, through process and principle, puts these beliefs into action. Here is a fact sheet about the Act! You can see the text of the bill here.
The EJ For All Act is informed by the belief that federal policy can and should seek to achieve environmental justice, health equity, and climate justice for all communities. Representatives Raúl Grijalva (AZ) and Barbara Lee (CA) and Senators Tammy Duckworth (IL) and Cory Booker (NJ) are leading the movement for environmental justice in Congress while following the leadership of communities like ours.
We’re calling on our representatives to ask them to support the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act. Will you help?
The A. Donald McEachin EJ For All Act has 4 main pillars:
1. Agency transparency, public participation & accountability.
NEPA’s public input process strengthens government and industry transparency and accountability. The EJ For All Act requires Federal agencies to provide early and meaningful community involvement opportunities under NEPA when proposing an action affecting an environmental justice community. It ensures robust Tribal representation throughout the NEPA process for an activity that could impact an Indian Tribe, including activities impacting off-reservation lands and sacred sites.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a fundamental environmental and public health protection. It was designed to safeguard communities by thoroughly examining any potential adverse impacts from Federally funded projects and considering public input from the affected communities.
NEPA allows communities to weigh in on proposed projects permitted or paid for by federal agencies- think stream-crossing permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers, infrastructure development projects like highways and dams, air permits for landfills, or funding to clean up Superfund sites and abandoned mine lands. If you’ve ever attended a public hearing, submitted public comments on a project, or signed a petition regarding a project, it was likely part of a NEPA review process.
Before NEPA, the U.S. government could make decisions without considering their environmental and human health effects. Especially in low-income communities, communities of color, and Indigenous communities, we see the harmful issues caused by industries that put profits over people.
The National Environmental Policy Act, commonly called NEPA, is at risk. Polluting industries would rather not share the details of their polluting projects and often turn a blind eye to short and long-term health impacts like cancer and birth defects. There is a current push to gut NEPA and valuable community input.
The push for A. Donald McEachin EJ For All Act is part of the effort to ensure that we hold onto existing protections and push forward on more accountability and justice for our EJ communities. As members of the Alliance for Appalachia, we want to offer our lived experience and expertise on the shape of NEPA protections and issues in the Appalachian region so we can be helpful in a regional context by adding our collective power in the vital fight for environmental justice.
2. Addressing cumulative pollution impacts.
The bill requires federal agencies to consider the successive, combined, and compounded impacts of public and environmental health- cumulative impacts- under the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.
3. Civil rights restoration and enforcement.
The EJ For All Act strengthens the Civil Rights Act by restoring the rights of individuals and organizations facing the impacts of discrimination to seek legal remedies in court.
4. Equity and access to resources.
It also establishes new programs and funding to reduce health disparities and improve public health in environmental justice communities.
How to ask your Representatives and Senators to Support the EJ for All Act!
Hi, my name is ______, and I live in ______. I am calling to ask that you support the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act because it was drafted by communities and for communities. The Act would support the right of all people to clean air, pure water, and an environment that supports life. This is a chance for you to be a leader in the fight for environmental justice, and to support environmental justice and frontline communities. All communities deserve environmental justice.
[Here, feel free to mention specific stories relevant to your community about why the Act is important to you, for example, the Ohio train derailment, the MVP/MVP Southgate, Willow Project, Cancer Alley, etc. If you don’t have a specific example, you can use the below script!]
The EJ for All Act is important to me because my community would be protected by this Act, which would help stop future projects like the disastrous _______________.
…People are recognizing that too many Americans have been living without the very basic rights of clean air, clean water, and clean outdoor spaces to enjoy for far too long. Not coincidentally, the communities being denied these rights are most often made up of people of color, Indigenous Peoples, and people with low incomes. These communities have been ignored or silenced as pollutants and toxins from power plants, solid waste facilities, uranium mines, and other hazardous sites have threatened their environment and their health. Many of these same communities are now finding themselves at the frontlines of climate change as well.
@[your representative] Our communities need you to support the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act! The Act would support the right of all people to clean air, pure water, and an environment that supports life! #EJForAll #EnvironmentalJustice
@[your representative] As your constituent, I ask you to support the A. Donald McEachin EJ for All Act! Too many Americans have been living without the very basic rights of clean air, clean water & clean outdoor spaces to enjoy for far too long. #EJForAll #EnvironmentalJustice
@[your representative] Help prevent future environmental justice disasters like the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Willow Project and Cancer Alley. Please support the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act! #EJForAll #EnvironmentalJustice