Sarbanes Brings Renewed Focus to Environmental Justice Efforts [Video]

Congressman Urges Colleagues to Overcome Structural Inequities and Lift Up Communities
July 21, 2021
CONTACT: Natalie Young | |
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing today, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) urged his colleagues to think creatively about environmental justice efforts and to take positive steps forward to help lift up underserved communities across the country.

“There’s this 85-mile stretch along the Mississippi River, between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, where there’s around 150 fossil fuel and petrochemical plants that are pumping out pollutants by the hour,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “The air is filled with toxicity. Communities around the plants face extreme cancer risk. In fact, this stretch of land … is referred to as cancer alley.”

Sarbanes continued: “Poor communities across the country are surrounded by hundreds of giant polluting plants. But right now, this is all legal under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. How’s that possible?”

Sarbanes added: “Even as we try to push against [these kinds of] negative cumulative impacts when we think about environmental justice … we can also think about the positive cumulative impact that we can put together in the environmental arena, particularly as it impacts poorer communities across the country.”

Sarbanes concluded: “I am very proud to have worked with other members to lead a bipartisan bill called The Residential Energy and Economic Savings Act, or the TREES Act, which would provide resources to help homeowners to plant more trees with a focus on communities that have traditionally lacked that canopy – that tree cover.... We can both address and overcome some of these cumulative negative impacts, but also think creatively about how to establish a positive loop here, positive feedback that deal with these issues of environmental justice.”

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