In Environmental Justice Push, Sarbanes Highlights Connection Between Superfund Site Clean Up and Climate Change Mitigation [Video]

“If We Are Going to Protect Our Residents, We Need Not Only to Clean These Sites Up, But We Also Have to Build Resiliency Against the Known Risks of Climate Change”
May 13, 2021
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a House Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee hearing today, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) underscored the compounding effects of climate change on Superfund site pollution and demanded urgent action on both fronts in order to deliver environmental justice.

“There’s an estimated 73 million people who live within three miles of a Superfund site,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “That's a pretty startling statistic.”

Sarbanes continued: “These communities are disproportionately communities of color and low-income communities – and they are bearing the brunt of our environmental pollution oftentimes. To add to this, we are experiencing more intense and frequent extreme weather events that can and have led to the release of contaminants like lead and arsenic into neighboring communities.”

Sarbanes added: “In my state, my home state of Maryland, we have several Superfund sites. And we are also experiencing floods and sea-level rise, which climate change is exacerbating. So, if we are going to protect our residents, we need not only to clean these sites up, but we also have to build resiliency against the known risks of climate change.”

Sarbanes concluded: “I think it’s important that we go a step further though. If we are really going to build back better in an equitable way – and I know that the President is committed to that – we need to not only address these contamination issues but invest in these environmental justice communities and provide economic opportunity for them. In other words, it’s not just about doing the right thing to make sure that these communities are not disproportionately impacted by these environmental contaminants, but it’s looking at what are the economic opportunities that can be afforded as well.”

See below for a video of the Congressman’s remarks.