Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), sponsors of the Environmental Justice for All Act, today hailed the announced membership of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) and called for broad action by the executive branch to implement a strong environmental justice agenda at all levels of the federal government.
Pointing to President Biden’s Jan. 27 executive order – which begins by committing to the pursuit of environmental justice, among other goals and principles, and mentions the issue twice in the first paragraph alone – Grijalva said that today’s announcement should be just the next step in a substantive, ongoing administration effort to strengthen environmental justice standards.
The WHEJAC membership includes several members of the Environmental Justice Working Group (EJWG), an advisory group Grijalva and McEachin convened beginning in 2018 as they prepared the original version of the Environmental Justice for All Act. The lawmakers reintroduced the bill on March 18 after first introducing it in the 116th Congress.
The bill and the innovative, public input-focused process used to write it have set the tone for congressional action on environmental justice. Recently confirmed Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland was an original cosponsor of the Environmental Justice for All Act in the last Congress and has been supportive of the bill and its principles throughout her time in Congress.
“President Biden and Vice President Harris understand that from now on, American environmental policy has to be informed by an awareness of how many people our laws have left out and left behind,” Rep. Grijalva said. “The era of sacrificing whole swathes of the country to the demands of polluters will have to end. No American community – in Louisiana, New Jersey, Appalachia or any other part of our great country – should have to accept poisoned air and water as the price of progress. The president, his advisors and his cabinet should listen to the environmental justice council with a spirit of new possibilities for our country, and I look forward to working with its members to advance our shared goals as closely as possible.”
“From day one, President Biden and Vice President Harris have been committed to working alongside environmental justice communities, to listen and learn from their lived experiences in order to advance solutions that promote clean air, pure water and an environment free of toxic pollution,” Rep. McEachin said. “Today’s historic announcement is yet another powerful example of their determination to address our nation’s legacy of injustice. I am pleased to see so many dear friends and indispensable members of the movement on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and look forward to my continued collaboration with these stalwart champions for environmental justice.”
WHEJAC members that also participated in the Grijalva-McEachin Environmental Justice Working Group include:
- Richard Moore, Executive Director, Los Jardines Institute
- Angelo Logan, Policy Director, Moving Forward Network
- Michele Roberts, National Co-Coordinator, Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform
- Juan Parras, Executive Director, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services
- Dr. Nicky Sheats, Director, Center for Urban Environment at the John S. Watson Institute For Public Policy
In addition, Grijalva pointed to Andrea Delgado, with whom he has worked on issues such as farmworker exposure to pesticides for many years, as a strong example of who federal policymakers should heed when it comes to improving Americans’ quality of life and strengthening environmental protections for all Americans, not just those who already live in wealthy or pollution-free communities.
Biographies of each WHEJAC member who is also a member of the Environmental Justice Working Group are available below.
Richard Moore is the program director for Los Jardines Institute, a member of the Environmental Justice & Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, which advocates for stronger, safer and just chemical policies. He served as the executive director of Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (Southwest Network) from 1993 to 2010, when he transitioned to senior advisor.
As a founding member of the Chicano movement’s Black Berets in Albuquerque, he helped create the Bobby Garcia Memorial Clinic, a cultural school, free breakfast programs, a dental clinic and other co-ops. Moore spent the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as co-founder and co-director of the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP) and later helped lead the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (SNEEJ).
It was during this period that SNEEJ took a pivotal role in organizing the first National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, which produced the Principles of Environmental Justice that define the movement today. To further this work, in 1997 Richard co-founded the Just Transition Alliance, an initiative to bring together fence-line residents and workers to address issues of toxic exposures and health and safety. Mr. Moore has served on numerous governmental and nongovernmental panels and was a recipient of the 2005 Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing World Award.
Angelo Logan grew up in City of Commerce, California, and now lives in Long Beach. He is the co-founder of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ) and has worked with a wide variety of coalitions to achieve health protective policies, particularly regarding goods movement and Green Zones. Angelo currently serves with several organizations working to protect community health, including the South Coast Air Quality Management District Environmental Justice Advisory Group, I-710 Corridor Advisory Committees, Southern California Association of Governments Goods Movement Task Force and the City of Commerce’s Environmental Justice Task Force and Green Zones-Policy Working Group.
Michele Roberts has provided technical assistance and advocacy support to communities regarding the impacts of toxins on human health and the environment since 1990. She also is a spoken word artist and the creator of Arts Slam @ SsAMS, a community-based arts program. She received a Master of Art degree (2000) from the University of Delaware and a Bachelor of Science degree in biology (1983) from Morgan State University. Roberts has co-authored reports on environmental justice issues, and her advocacy work has been featured on television and in print news and magazines. Prior to being an advocate, Michele worked for 20 years as governmental environmental scientist. She currently is co-director of the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform.
Juan Parras is the founder and executive director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (T.e.j.a.s). Juan and his resolve for equity, justice and community resilience – with more than 40 years of organizing and work from social services to labor, to environmental justice – is the driving force behind T.e.j.a.s.. Juan can attest to the empowering force of marrying issues of intersectionality in environmental work for marginalized communities.
Dr. Nicky Sheats is currently the director of the Center for the Urban Environment of the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy at Thomas Edison State University. Dr. Sheats has defined the primary mission of the Center as providing support for the environmental justice community on both a state and national level. He is a founding member of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change, the Environmental Justice and Science Initiative, the Building Equity and Alignment Initiative, and an informal environmental justice attorney group. He holds an undergraduate degree in economics from Princeton University and a Master in Public Policy, law degree and Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard University.
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