McEachin pushes for environmental justice in COVID-19 relief
The next COVID-19 relief package must prioritize clean water, investment in energy assistance programs, the deployment of zero emissions transportation and goods movement and support programs that improve the health of environmental justice communities.
This from a letter from more than 60 senators and congressmen, including Virginia Democrat Donald McEachin, co-chair and co-founder of the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force.
“The decades-old legacy of racism and environmental inequity has made environmental justice communities – including low-income communities, communities of color and Tribal and indigenous communities in the U.S. and U.S. territories – especially vulnerable to COVID-19,” the lawmakers wrote. “Research illustrates a clear link between higher levels of environmental risk, including exposure to air pollution and higher rates of coronavirus mortality. As a result, members of environmental justice communities and communities of color, who are more likely to reside in areas with higher levels of pollution or live on the ‘fenceline’ of industry and transportation corridors, are disproportionately impacted by the virus.”
The letter builds on calls from members of Congress since the onset of the pandemic urging the passage of legislation to address the needs of environmental justice communities during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Given the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on environmental justice communities, it is critical that we work to pass legislation to address the needs of frontline and fenceline communities,” the letter continued. “Though we were pleased by the inclusion of several provisions within the House-passed Heroes Acts, including certain provisions outlined in the described letters, we reassert that any future COVID-19 relief legislation should incorporate the full measure of provisions to deliver relief to these communities.”