Legislation would help direct 40% of President Biden’s climate investment toward disproportionately impacted communities
Washington (January 28, 2021) — Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01) announced the introduction of the Environmental Justice Mapping and Data Collection Act of 2021, legislation that would take ground-breaking steps toward identifying and connecting environmental justice communities with policy outcomes. This legislation, written through collaboration with grassroots environmental justice leaders, aims to create and authorize funding for a system to comprehensively identify the demographic factors, environmental burdens, socioeconomic conditions, and public health concerns that are related to environmental justice and collect high-quality data through community engagement and a government-wide interagency process. These data would be used to build layered maps depicting which communities experience environmental injustices, and would assist the Biden administration in directing at least 40 percent of the investment in a clean and climate-safe future into communities that have been harmed by racist and unjust environmental practices.
“We have long-known that communities of color and low-income communities have experienced unsustainably high pollution levels, and this pandemic has made it even more clear how inextricably connected pollution is with public health,” said Senator Markey. “As we rebuild our health and our economy, we need to make sure justice is at the heart of every policy, and that means having an evidence-based method for targeting investments and protective policies toward those who have faced the most harm. Systemic racism needs systemic solutions, and this legislation will take an important step in ridding of these historic injustices.”
“As our nation rebuilds from this deadly pandemic, we must continue prioritize working to ensure every American has the right to breathe safe air, drink clean water and live on uncontaminated land regardless of their zip code, the size of their wallet or the color of their skin,” Senator Duckworth said. “In order to help achieve this goal and more effectively target our investments, we need better data that improves our understanding of what communities have been most impacted by systemic racism. That’s why I’m proud to help Senator Markey introduce this critical legislation today.”
“I am honored to be working with Senator Markey and Senator Duckworth on this critical legislation that makes it clear: environmental justice is racial justice,” said Congresswoman Cori Bush. “In St. Louis City, Black children are 2.4 times more likely than white children to test positive for lead in their blood. They make roughly 10 times more emergency room visits for asthma each year than white children. Black neighborhoods experience most of the city’s illegal trash dumping. Black households in St. Louis are disproportionately affected by high energy cost burdens. Black neighborhoods host the majority of the City’s air pollution sources. We boast a police department that leads the country in police killings — a disproportionate number of which are of Black people. And there is a nuclear waste site — the West Lake Landfill, which is a catastrophe-in-progress. This legislation is bringing St. Louis to the forefront in the fight to end environmental racism. It will federally fund and create an interagency committee to develop detailed mapping, down to the neighborhood, of specific environmental risk factors — including air quality monitoring, which has long been understudied in St. Louis, fossil fuel infrastructure, and police violence.”