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US EPA Civil Rights, Environmental Justice, and Pope Francis EJ 2020 Public Comments

A diverse and growing alliance including The City Project submitted public comments regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed strategic plan on environmental justice and health, which will be called EJ 2020.

These comments highlight leadership and best practice examples for EPA to ensure compliance with civil rights, and environmental justice and health, laws and principles.

In Pope Francis’s encyclical on caring about our common home, the Pope counsels us to care about climate, care for creation, and care for the poor and underprivileged.

EPA’s work and EJ 2020 should reflect the Pope’s encyclical. Indeed, Administrator McCarthy says, “I think the most important thing that we can do, working with the Pope, is to try to remind ourselves that this is really about protecting natural resources that human beings rely on, and that those folks that are most vulnerable — that the church has always been focused on, those in poverty and low income — are the first that are going to be hit and impacted by a changing climate.”

These comments focus on access to parks and green space for people of color and low income people for several reasons. President Barack Obama and other federal authorities – as well as Pope Francis – recognize parks and green space as issues of social justice, and environmental justice and health. EPA should too. EPA should include parks in its online EJ Screen mapping tool, for example. EPA should develop green access standards to measure progress and equity and hold public officials accountable. The best practice examples are not limited to the context of parks and green space. The legal framework and best practices cut across other programs and activities.

Download the public comments here.

Download the attachments here.

The diverse allies include: Amigos de los Rios * Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA) * The City Project * Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) * Jean Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society * Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC) * Los Angeles Wilderness Training * New Mexico Environmental Law Center * Social Justice Consultancy * Social & Public Art Resource Center (SPARC).

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