Making Environmental Justice a priority...again

The Obama administration finally got around to convening the

Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice

. This group, established in 1994, had not met for almost a decade.  A Federal Advisory Committee, this group was a very important forum for EJ activists and others to gain the attention of federal decision makers.  I remember attending one meeting of the IWGEJ where residents from

Mossville, Louisiana, made their case about dioxins and other chemicals in the air and water and related health issues

facing their community and the adjacent chemical plants.  The EPA and other federal agencies were forced to respond and are continuing to address EJ concerns in Mossville.   This forum was also supposed to hold EPA and all agencies accountable to their mandate to develop policies and strategies for incorporating EJ analysis into agency decision-making.  Hopefully this meeting will show some real leadership to follow-through on the EPA's own

Inspector General report from 2006, that revealed few if any EPA senior managers were directing their staff to conduct EJ reviews of federal policies, programs or projects

.  Implementing this step alone could have a significant and lasting positive impact on urban health inequities in communities across the country.

Professor Jason Corburn