U.S. Representative Hilda L. Solis  [Printer-friendly version]
September 20, 2006


Public Health at Risk

Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Environmental Prptection Agency's Office
of the Inspector General (OIG) has released a report in which it
finds that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is failing to
conduct environmental justice reviews of their programs, policies and
activities. The report found that the EPA "cannot determine whether
its programs cause disproportionately high and adverse human health or
environmental effects on communities of color and low-income

Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis said, "This report is yet more proof that
the Administration and its senior officials have ignored their
responsibility to protect the health and welfare of working families
across this county. The continued failure of this Administration and
its senior agency officials to protect the health of low income and
minority communities is unacceptable. They must be held accountable."

Senator Kerry said, "This report is further evidence that minority and
low income neighborhoods that have become America's industrial dumping
grounds and this administration couldn't care less. We will go to the
mat on this. Simply put, the EPA needs to start doing its job and end
this national disgrace."

Senator Durbin said, "Once again, the Bush Administration has fallen
short of meeting its obligations to millions of people living in some
of the most economically disadvantaged areas in the country. The EPA
needs to live up to its obligation to protect all Americans -- not ust
those in the upper tax brackets -- and implement the steps necessary
to combat the environmental injustices present in our minority and
low-income communities."

The IG found that EPA program and regional offices have not performed
environmental justice reviews in accordance with Executive Order 12898
which was signed by then-President Clinton in 1994. Sixty percent of
responding program EPA officials reported that they had not performed
environmental justice reviews and 87 percent reported EPA senior
management had not requested them to perform such reviews. Eighty
percent reported that they did not know how to do an environmental
justice assessment and that protocols, framework or additional
direction would be useful.

The report comes just one year after Solis, Kerry, Durbin and 75 other
Members of Congress expressed concern about EPA's proposal to delete
race as a consideration for determining environmental justice, and
just six months after the White House deleted evidence showing a
proposed rule on soot could hurt low-income populations and may have a
substantial impact on the life expectancy in the United States.

For decades, industrial zones, refineries, and power plants have
jeopardized the health of low-income and minority communities. In
Southern California, 71 percent of African-Americans and 50 percent of
Latinos live in non-attainments areas. Nationally, people of color are
three times more likely to be hospitalized or die from asthma and
other respiratory illnesses linked to air pollutions.

Press contacts:

Sonia Melendez (Rep. Hilda Solis) 202-225-4573

Liz Richardson (Senator John Kerry): 202-224-4159

Nadeam Elshami (Senator Richard Durbin): (202) 224-2152