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State of Environmental Justice: Obama Administration Retrospective


December 1, 2016


Washington, DC (and webinar)

This program is cosponsored by the
D.C. Bar Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section

An ELI Public Seminar

Environmental justice has officially been a priority of the federal government for over 20 years. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12898, which directed federal agencies to include the consideration of health and environmental conditions in minority, tribal, and low-income communities as part of federal decision-making.

In President Obama’s 2008 campaign he promised to strengthen the EPA Office of Environmental Justice, expand the environmental justice small grants program, and empower minority communities to respond to threats to their environmental health. In 2011, the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG) signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice and Executive Order 12898 (MOU). More recently, in May 2016 EPA released the EJ 2020 Action Agenda, which aims to institutionalize integration of environmental justice in EPA decision-making, as well as build robust partnerships with states and co-regulators.

However, significant challenges remain, and a number of high profile incidents, such as the Flint water crisis, have highlighted the need for continued focus on environmental justice. Our panel of experts looked at the Obama Administration’s legacy on environmental justice, and discussed opportunities for future administrations.

Benjamin Wilson,
Principal, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. (moderator)
Barry Hill
, Visiting Scholar, Environmental Law Institute
Quentin Pair, U.S. Department of Justice (ret.)
Suzi Ruhl, Senior Attorney Advisor, U.S. EPA

Of Interest...
EJ 2020 Action Agenda: EPA Environmental Justice Strategy (U.S. EPA, Oct. 27, 2016)

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