July 22, 2021

Duckworth Discusses Environmental Justice Issues During EPW Hearing


[WASHINGTON, DC] – During a U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice and Regulatory Oversight hearing today, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the first-ever U.S. Senate Environmental Justice Caucus, discussed the issues adversely impacting environmental justice communities. Duckworth raised concerns about our nation’s crumbling water infrastructure, the need to increase monitoring of local air pollution, as well as the tools that are needed to identify and correct environmental injustice. Duckworth is Chair of the EPW Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water & Wildlife, which has jurisdiction over the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act. She authored the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 (DWWIA 2021), which would invest $35.9 billion in fixing and upgrading our water infrastructure and passed the Senate by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 89-2. Watch the Senator’s full remarks here.

“As Chair of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife, I agree and believe that access to clean, safe water is a basic human right, and it is unacceptable that these vulnerable communities are impacted by poor water quality and access,” said Duckworth. “You can just look to the town of Centreville, Illinois, to see that often times when these issues occur in neighborhoods of minority or low–income communities, it takes far too long for the public to hear about it or for people to get involved. For decades we have turned a blind eye to the water issues in this country and failed to provide adequate funding for these systems.”

In April, Duckworth helped introduced the Environmental Justice for Communities Act to support communities experiencing environmental injustices, which been exacerbated by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. She also recently introduced the Environmental Justice for All Act, sweeping legislation that would help achieve healthy equity and climate justice for all, particularly underserved communities and communities of color that have long been disproportionately harmed by environmental injustices and toxic pollutants. In January, Duckworth helped announce the introduction of legislation that would create and authorize funding for a system to comprehensively identify the demographic factors, environmental burdens, socioeconomic conditions and public health concerns that are related to environment justice and collect high-quality data.

Duckworth also secured a commitment from then-nominee for EPA Michael Regan to prioritize environmental justice and just this week, she applauded the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s Justice40 Initiative Interim Guidance for federal agencies.

Duckworth, Booker and Carper co-founded the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus on April 22, 2019, to raise awareness of the many environmental and pollution issues that have created public health challenges, which disproportionately impact low income communities and communities of color. The Caucus seeks to help those communities advocate for themselves with the federal government by providing expertise and assistance, generating legislation and organizing hearings and events.