Today, the House Natural Resources Committee held a full markup on H.R. 2021, the Environmental Justice for All Act, and passed the legislation out of committee. Introduced by Rep. A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) and Natural Resources Committee Chair Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), the Environmental Justice for All Act is landmark legislation that seeks to combat environmental injustice and empower vulnerable communities across the United States.
"Environmental injustice harms every American, but it disproportionately impacts low-income communities, communities of color, and Tribal and Indigenous communities. It is past time Congress takes decisive action to address long-standing inequities," said Rep. McEachin (VA-04). "Today, we took the next step in that process by passing the Environmental Justice for All Act out of committee. I thank Chair Grijalva for his leadership and collaboration on this important piece of legislation, and I look forward to supporting it on the House floor."
The Environmental Justice for All Act is historic legislation crafted after years of meaningful consultation with environmental justice communities, stakeholders, and community leaders. The legislation is the result of an inclusive process that solicited public input and feedback to develop a tailored, comprehensive policy proposal. Today's markup follows a legislative hearing on the Environmental Justice for All Act held in February 2022.
During today's markup, Rep. McEachin pushed back against Republicans' criticisms, saying, " the other side engages in their condescending attacks on this bill as if we drafted it. You and I, Mr. Chairman, we drafted this bill -- nothing could be further from the truth. As you know, we took our time; we went all over this country to different EJ communities. They have different problems, different issues, but what they had in common was a desire for the types of things that are in this legislation -- they wrote this legislation. For the Ranking Member and the other side of the aisle to suggest that they do not know what is best for themselves is part of the problem."
During the markup, Chair Grijalva said, "The people who decide whether these communities deserve water that is safe to drink or air that is safe to breathe do not experience life like those who live in those communities. H.R. 2021 will change that. The bill moves the center of power. It will change the available leverage, and it will repurpose the megaphone when it comes to protecting marginalized communities from continuing to be the dumping ground from dangerous pollution. This legislation is preventive and protective."
Most recently, Chair Grijalva and Rep. McEachin hosted a public input session and EJ tour in Richmond, Virginia, where they heard from residents living in overburdened communities, solicited feedback on the types of policy solutions needed, and visited local sites where environmental injustices are present. This was the last stop on a nationwide tour for the Environmental Justice for All Act.