All people should have a seat at the table in determining the future of our communities. Alliances from across the country, including the Alliance for Appalachia, participated in a year long Environmental Justice Working Group with the House Committee on Natural Resources to establish guiding principles that would inform the Environmental Justice for All Act.
Last week, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a press conference to announce the introduction of the Environmental Justice for All Act. Taysha DeVaughan, member of the Comanche Nation, President of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, and a member of the Alliance for Appalachia’s Coordinating Committee, was in Washington, D.C. to deliver a statement of support on behalf of our coalition.
The last time I was here I spoke to y’all about mountaintop removal and the impacts it has on our region. Healthwise, we are dealing with a black lung epidemic, cardiovascular diseases, among others. Mountaintop removal buries our waterways and watersheds, poisons our drinking water, and devastates our vital ecosystems. Financially we see coal companies going bankrupt and pushing the cost of reclamation and healthcare back on to communities who are already struggling.
Noted in the Press Release on Febuary 27, 2020 the Environmental Justice for All Act:
- creates a Federal Energy Transition Economic Development Assistance Fund – paid for through new fees on oil, gas and coal companies – to support communities and workers as they transition away from greenhouse gas-dependent economies;
- requires federal agencies to consider cumulative health impacts under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act in making permitting decisions and ensures that permits will not be issued if projects cannot demonstrate a reasonable certainty of no harm to human health;
- strengthens the Civil Rights Act to permit private citizens and organizations facing discrimination to seek legal remedies, overturning the Alexander v. Sandoval ruling;
- and provides $75 million in annual grants for research and program development to reduce health disparities and improve public health in environmental justice communities.