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Strengthen NEPA and Fund Full and Fair Environmental Review for All! GreenLatinos The City Project

GreenLatinos and The City Project submitted public comments on “Modernizing NEPA for the 21st Century” for the hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee on November 29, 2017.

We support strengthening the law, and full funding, to enable fair and efficient review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), including impacts on people of color and low income people. Republican President Richard M. Nixon signed NEPA into law with bipartisan support in 1970. “Thank God for NEPA because there were so many pressures to make a selection for a technology that might have been forced upon us and that would have been wrong for the country,” according to James Watkins, a Navy admiral who served as Secretary of Energy under Republican President George H. W. Bush.

NEPA plays a vital role in distributing fairly the benefits and burdens of environmental policies and programs for all. What the environmental justice movement has demonstrated is that racially identifiable communities are at a greater risk of environmental harms, disproportionately lack environmental benefits, pay a larger cost, and carry a heavier environmental burden than other communities regardless of income and class. Latinos are among the strongest supporters of environmental protection for several major reasons, namely, local exposure to pollutants, the effects of climate change and pollution on migrant farmworkers, and the impact of global warming on Latin American nations. Latinos and other people of color nevertheless are often marginalized by public officials, government agencies, mainstream environmentalists, and the media. Proper enforcement of NEPA can help address that injustice.

We urge the Committee to foster better decisions, improve transparency and accountability, and ensure taxpayer dollars are invested to protect our health, our people, and our environment. People of color care about protecting people, places, and values under NEPA. And we vote.

Mark Magaña, GreenLatinos
Robert García, The City Project