Frequent Questions

Why did EPA undertake environmental justice as a guiding principle?

Because of the Agency's strong belief that all Americans regardless of race, color, national origin, or economic circumstance are important to the future of our nation and should be able to live in a clean, healthy environment, EPA Administrator Riley established the Office of Environmental Justice in 1992; Administrator Browner made environmental justice one of EPA's highest priorities and established environmental justice as one of the seven guiding principles in the Agency's strategic plan in 1993. In an Agency-wide meeting, she stated that "many people of color, low-income and Native American communities have raised concerns that they suffer a disproportionate burden of health consequences due to the siting of industrial plants and waste dumps, and from exposure to pesticides or other toxic chemicals at home and on the job ... EPA is committed to addressing these concerns and is assuming a leadership role in environmental justice to enhance environmental quality for all residents of the United States." In 2001 Administrator Whitman recommitted the Agency to "integrating environmental justice into all Agency programs" in her August 9 memorandum. Subsequently she established a reporting requirement to provide documentation of environmental justice activities.
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