Effective Environmental Enforcement: Tools and Strategies to Protect Vulnerable Communities

Meeting Notes: 
This meeting will convene in the Cooper Room at Wayne County Community College's Eastern Campus and over Zoom, which has been approved by the House.
Date: 
Thursday, August 25, 2022 - 10:00am
Location: 
Cooper Room, Wayne County Community College Eastern Campus. 5901 Conner StreetDetroit, MI 48213
“Effective Environmental Enforcement: Tools and Strategies to Protect Vulnerable Communities”

Chairman Ro Khanna's Opening Statement

On Thursday, August 25, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET, Rep. Ro Khanna, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, and Subcommittee Vice Chair Rep. Rashida Tlaib will hold a field hearing in Detroit, Michigan to examine the gaps in current laws and regulations that leave frontline communities vulnerable to pollution, and the policy changes necessary to safeguard public health and the environment.  The hearing will focus on the reality of living in “sacrifice zones”—areas where Americans feel their lives are being sacrificed for the profits of corporate polluters.

 

Countless Americans live in environmental justice communities where current air and water pollution permitting schemes fail to protect residents from the cumulative health and environmental impacts of concentrated industrial pollution.  These sacrifice zones are disproportionately found in low-income communities and communities of color.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) permitting processes under the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts currently fail to consider these cumulative impacts on health and the environment.  Advocates and legislators alike have called for mandatory consideration of cumulative impacts in all permitting and for EPA standards that would require the rejection of applications that would cause harm to communities. 

 

In addition, when those permits are violated, enforcement can be slow and lack transparency and public input.  Legislators must strengthen the tools available to regulators in order to more meaningfully hold polluters accountable to their permits and better deter future violations.

 

This hearing will be an opportunity for Members to examine reforms that are necessary to protect frontline communities from pollution and prevent corporate polluters from incorporating permit violation penalties into their bottom lines as the cost of doing business.

WITNESSES

Panel I


Robert Shobe
Resident of Detroit, Michigan

(Stellantis Impact Zone)

Pamela McGhee  
Resident of Detroit, Michigan

(US Ecology Impact Zone)

 

Daeya Redding
Resident of Detroit, Michigan
(US Ecology Impact Zone)

 

Panel II


Nicholas Leonard
Executive Director
Great Lakes Environmental Law Center

 

Jamesa Johnson Greer

Executive Director
Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition

Eden Bloom 

Public Education and Media Manager
Detroit People’s Platform

Dr. Stuart Batterman

Professor, Environmental Health Sciences

University of Michigan School of Public Health

117th Congress