July 30, 2020

Harris, Booker, Duckworth Unveil Environmental Justice Measure

Source: Bloomberg Law


Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Cory Booker (N.J.), and Tammy Duckworth (Ill.) rolled out an environmental justice bill on Thursday aimed at underserved communities and communities of color.

The Environmental Justice for All Act would require permitting agencies to consider cumulative impacts under the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act and strengthen the National Environmental Policy Act to mandate “early and meaningful involvement in actions impacting communities,” including tribes, according to a statement from the senators.

The bill would also bar discrimination based on disparate impacts under the Civil Rights Act, establish a Federal Energy Transition Economic Development Assistance Fund to help communities moving away from fossil fuels, create a working group to ensure compliance and enforcement, and fund research grants.

The same bill (H.R. 5986) was earlier introduced in the House by Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Donald McEachin (D-Va.). The Democratic-backed bill doesn’t stand much of a chance of passage in the Republican-controlled Senate, but the measure is a priority for the Democratic leadership in the House.

Harris and Duckworth are reportedly under consideration as presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate.

“Confronting generations of systemic racism to achieve true justice will require us to recognize the role environmental racism has played and redress that by investing in long-term, sustainable environmental justice solutions to center and empower communities that have for far too long been excluded,” Harris said in a statement.

“For too long, communities of color, indigenous communities and low-income communities have been disproportionately exposed to and harmed by pollution,” Booker said in the same statement.

Other signatories to the Senate measure include Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

By:  Stephen Lee