March 22, 2023

Duckworth, Booker, Grijalva, Lee Introduce the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — Today, on World Water Day, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Cory Booker (D-NJ)—co-chairs and co-founders of the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus—as well as Ranking Member of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ-07) and U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA-12) re-introduced the newly named A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act, the most comprehensive environmental justice legislation in history. The bill would help achieve health equity and climate justice for all, particularly in underserved communities and communities of color that have long been disproportionately harmed by environmental injustices and toxic pollutants.

“For far too long, we have put our most toxic, most polluting industries next door to Black and Brown neighborhoods while those in power have looked away—enough,” said Senator Duckworth. “As the co-chair and co-founder of the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus, I’m proud to introduce the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act with Senator Booker and Congressmembers Grijalva and Lee to help us uproot systemic racism, promote health equity and protect every American’s right to breathe safe air, drink clean water and live on uncontaminated land—regardless of their zip code.”

The members of Congress announced the bill’s re-introduction at a press conference today, where they were joined by Vice Ranking Member of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA-37) as well as a diverse array of grassroots groups, youth advocates and environmental justice community leaders from across the country. Full video of Senator Duckworth’s remarks can be found here.

“In this country, environmental justice is intrinsically linked with economic and social justice,” said Senator Booker. “We have a moral obligation to ensure that everyone has access to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. Unfortunately, communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities across our country are disproportionately exposed to toxic chemicals and harmful pollutants that result from the actions of the negligent few. That is why I am proud to join my colleagues Senator Duckworth and Congressmembers Grijalva and Lee in introducing this bill that would ensure everyone has access to the most basic human needs such as clean water and clean air, regardless of their socioeconomic status or the color of their skin.” 

“The Environmental Justice For All Act would not have been possible without Rep. McEachin’s vision and tireless commitment to making sure that the communities impacted by this bill were at the table in every step of crafting it,” said Ranking Member Grijalva. “This bill belongs to him and the environmental justice communities all over this country who have been fighting for their rights to clean air, water, and their health for decades. The A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act will take the concrete action we need to help make sure the same destruction that’s been perpetrated against poor communities and communities of color for decades doesn’t happen again. We’re going to build on the progress and momentum we’ve made collectively and turn this legislation into law.”

“Growing up in El Paso, Texas under the shadow of the Asarco copper smelter, I know firsthand how harmful environmental pollution can be to communities,” said Congresswoman Lee. “But unlike when I was a child, we now have overwhelming, indisputable scientific evidence that marginalized communities in America are bearing the brunt of toxic pollution and climate change. As our late colleague and friend Congressman Donald McEachin said, access to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment should not be a luxury. This legislation is rooted in that principle. I am proud to take up Rep. McEachin’s fight as the new co-lead of this transformative bill, and will not stop until we achieve environmental justice for all—no matter where you live, what you look like, or how much you make.”

“We are facing a climate crisis that is disproportionately impacting Black and Brown communities across the country,” said Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove. “As the Vice Ranking Member on the House Natural Resources Committee, I am proud to stand with my colleagues to secure clean air and water for future generations and address the severe and lasting impacts of environmental racism. Together, we can advance environmental justice measures that put communities first and honor the legacy of the late Representative Donald McEachin.” 

Named in honor of the House bill’s original co-lead, the late U.S. Representative A. Donald McEachin (D-VA-04), the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act incorporates extensive community feedback, including 350 written comments from members of the public and leaders in the environmental justice movement and has support from more than 300 groups.

A copy of the bill text is available here.

A copy of the bill one-pager is available here.

Along with Duckworth and Booker, the original Senate co-sponsors of the legislation include U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Peter Welch (D-VT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Alex Padilla (D-CA).

Along with Grijalva and Lee, the original House co-sponsors of the legislation include U.S. Representatives Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA-37), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA-44), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-12), Grace Meng (D-NY-06), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07), Ro Khanna (D-CA-17), Diana DeGette (D-CO-01), Joyce Beatty (D-OH-03), Bobby Scott (D-VA-03), Jerry Nadler (D-NY-12), Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16), Kathy Castor (D-FL-14), Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11), Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), Melanie Stansbury (D-NM-01), Grace Napolitano (D-CA-31), Jared Huffman (D-CA-02), Joe Neguse (D-CO-02), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY-07), Katie Porter (D-CA-47), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY-16), Jill Tokuda (D-HI-02), Greg Casar (D-TX-35), James P. McGovern (D-MA-02), Kweisi Mfume (D-MD-07), Robin Kelly (D-IL-02), Betty McCollum (D-MN-04), Jennifer McClellan (D-VA-04) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18).

Duckworth is a fierce advocate for environmental justice communities. Last year, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022 which included several of Duckworth’s environmental justice provisions that would establish a federal advisory committee on environmental justice at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), reduce the cost share for restoration projects that benefit economically disadvantaged communities and enhance workforce development in STEM and water infrastructure with a focus on diversity and outreach in disadvantaged communities. In 2021, Duckworth’s bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA) was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help rebuild our nation’s crumbling and dangerous water infrastructure. Duckworth led a subcommittee field hearing in Chicago on DWWIA and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s implementation.