The workshop themed, “Youth in Action” offered participants the opportunity to learn more about the critical role of youth and inter-generational organizing in the Environmental Justice Movement. Professionals and emerging leaders in the field of Environmental Justice gave interactive presentations covering a wide range of topics including career opportunities and techniques for Public Engagement.
The workshop was held in conjunction with the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) Public Meeting in Washington, DC July 24-25,2012. NEJAC Chairperson, Elizabeth Yiempierre served as the lunch keynote speaker and offered a more detailed look at the resiliency of the Environmental Justice movement and the meaning of inter-generational organizing. Yiempierre is also the director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community based non-profit organization. Highlights from Yiempierre’s address included the announcement of very fresh victory in a decade long battle to pass a more equitable solid waste management plan for the City of New York. UPROSE worked with a coalition of New York based non-profits to ratify the plan with the New York City Council. On June 22, 2012 the management plan played a major role in the permit approval for a Trash Transfer station on the Upper East Side, one of New York’s wealthiest neighborhoods.
Local Environmental Justice advocates, Dr. Janet Phoenix and Irv Sheffey addressed the group and discussed local Environmental Justice advocacy in the Washington, DC area. Sheffey serves as the Regional Environmental Justice Organizer for the Sierra Club and mentioned recent wins to shut down Dominion Coal fired Power plant located in Alexandria, VA (a suburb of Washington, DC). Phoenix is the director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network and the coordinator for the DC Environmental Health Collaborative. The Collaborative is currently conducting a health survey for communities surrounding the PEPCO facility located on Benning Road in Northeast Washington, DC. The PEPCO facility is a historic toxic site for Washington, DC primarily due to the recently decommissioned power plant at the location.
In the afternoon participants were surprised by a visit from EPA Associate Assistant Administrator for Environmental Justice Lisa Garcia and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Jackson addressed the group and discussed the everyday work of the EPA to protect the environment and public health.
The dynamic group of participants included high school aged students from PATRIOTS Technology Center, Summer Youth Employees with the DC Department of Public Works, Office of Recycling and Interns with the Environmental Protection Agency. Other presenters at the event included Lilian Molina, Environmental Justice Director with the Energy Action Coalition. Mustafa Ali, Associate Director of the EPA Office of Environmental Justice, Scott W. Fraser Deputy Director, EPA Office of Public Engagement, Ted Coopwood of the EPA Office of Children’s Health, Kent Benjamin, Acting Deputy Director EPA Office of Environmental Justice, Sheritta Woodruff Taylor, EPA Office of Environmental Justice and Kari Fulton, Interim Director of TheEJCC.
For more information about the EPA Office of Environmental Justice and to join the office’s e-mail listserve please visit: www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/