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E-M:/ Carol Browner Title VI & Environ Justice Remarks
Enviro-Mich message from "RASHID BARKAJI" <ACCESS-COM@worldnet.att.net>
The following are remarks made by U.S. EPA Administrator, Carol M. Browner,
at the National Conference of Mayors Environmental Justice Roundtable in
Detroit on July 17, 1998:
Thank you Mayor Archer -- for your steadfast leadership on the
revitalization of Detroit, and all you have done to improve the lives of
this city's citizens. I especially want to thank you for calling all of us
here today, for organizing this important meeting and the tours this
I was delighted to accept your invitation. This is an important
opportunity for me to hear your concerns, and for all of us here to roll up
our sleeves and work together on concrete, constructive ways that we can
revitalize our cities, attract development, and still protect the basic
rights of all citizens.
For the past five and half years, the Clinton Administration has made
it a top priority to help revitalize our nation's cities -- to replace the
despair and neglect that has plagued many urban centers with the hope and
promise of new jobs, new resources, and new resolve.
We've all been working hand in hand -- mayors, county officials,
community leaders, businesses, environmental justice groups, and
environmentalists. And the results not only have met our expectations, but
far exceeded them.
Brownfields redevelopment is one of the best examples -- our cities'
abandoned industrial properties. Today, EPA is working with 150
communities across the country to breathe new life into brownfields and to
return them to the economic engines they once were.
And this week in Washington, Vice President Gore announced an
additional 71 pilot projects. Altogether, that's 228 pilots across the
country -- sparks that will ignite a fire of renewal throughout our cities
and across the country.
We've come a long way with brownfields.
In Dallas, Texas, a $200,000 grant from EPA has leveraged nearly $54
million in public and private redevelopment dollars. In Bridgeport,
Connecticut, local vision has led to the cleanup and redevelopment of more
than 120 acres of brownfields, creating hundreds of new jobs for
In Toledo, a new pilot community, the city will undertake a massive
evaluation of brownfields, and has committed to involving city residents
every step of the way.
Here in Detroit, we've worked with the state and the community to
evaluate 14 brownfields sites, and helped redevelop the Scotten Property,
an abandoned steel and porcelain plant turned into facility that now
produces plastics for automobiles.
Across the nation, in partnership with state and local government and
communities, we have leveraged nearly $1 billion in private funds for
redevelopment of brownfields, from Dallas to Sacramento to Pittsburgh --
creating more than 2,000 jobs in the process. Together, we are proving
that you can protect both people and prosperity.
That is why when some people say we can't protect communities that are
unfairly burdened by pollution and still revitalize our cities, we know the
opposite is true. Time and time again, this Administration has proven that
you can have robust economic growth and still have strong protections --
protections of our environment, health, and our basic rights as citizens.
These are all inextricably linked.
Like every community in this country, minority communities want water
that is safe for drinking, streams safe for fishing, air that is healthy to
breathe, and land free from toxic chemicals. And they want opportunity --
opportunity to work and make a decent living.
But some minority communities believe they have been
disproportionately affected by pollution because of their race.
Our nation's 34-year old Civil Rights Act requires the federal
government to ensure that federal funds are not used to discriminate
against people on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, citizens may file complaints
with EPA that allege discrimination from the programs and activities of
people who receive EPA funding. State and local governments carry out most
of the day-to-day permitting decisions with EPA funding. But the Civil
Rights law only allows citizens to file complaints with the federal
government, not with states or local governments.
EPA now has 15 formal complaints under investigation from such
communities. And with this in mind, EPA has a responsibility to address
those complaints on their merits in a fair and timely manner.
And we are confident that we can do so without thwarting the
redevelopment of our urban centers. Addressing these complaints need not
scare businesses away, nor cause our inner cities to backslide into ruin
Our experience tells us that if you give people the opportunity to sit
down together and listen to one another, we can find common-sense,
cost-effective solutions that also provide every American and every
American community with equal environmental and public health protection.
Recently, we issued an interim guidance on how we would manage these
claims of discrimination. This is just a starting point to open up a
dialogue with business leaders, community leaders, and state officials and
mayors so that together we can shape a final policy that works for
A meaningful dialogue is behind our Title VI Advisory Committee -- 23
representatives from state, tribal, and local governments, industry,
academia, non-governmental organizations, and community groups working to
develop recommendations on how to meaningfully address Title VI concerns
up-front before permits become the subject of complaints.
Our goal is clear: First, to provide citizens with input into
decisionmaking and swift resolution of their concerns. Second, to give
businesses a climate of certainty that fosters development. And third, not
to second-guess responsible local and state decisionmaking.
We at EPA do not have all the answers. And that is the reason I am
here today -- to work with you so we can move forward with more answers
Elliott Laws our former Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and
Emergency Response chairs our advisory committee. He is here today, and
he will convey your ideas to the committee members at their next meeting at
the end of this month.
And I can tell you that EPA will not move forward, we will not
finalize the Title VI guidance, until we have received the committee's
final input, which we expect in December.
So let us begin our meeting. But before we do, I want to set the
record straight: As we move forward today, let's have a discussion based on
the facts -- not on rumor.
The fact is, EPA has received formal environmental justice complaints
that we have a legal responsibility to address.
The fact is, we are working with all sides to shape a policy that
works for everyone.
The fact is, there is no evidence that redevelopment is grinding to a
halt. In no case has a Title VI petition pending before EPA held up
redevelopment in our cities.
Mayor Guido, you know this firsthand. When minority community groups
voiced concern over a Ford automobile coating plant in Dearborn, we worked
with the city and state to address those concerns up front. Changes were
made in the permit, the permit was issued, and the plant is moving forward.
In Lawrence, Massachusetts, Gencorp involved the entire community,
including minority groups, from the very start of their effort to redevelop
a brownfield into a plant that produces space age polymers. Today, the
project is underway and the community is on board. According to a top
Gencorp official -- and I quote, "The Lawrence experience proves that
economic growth, environmental justice, and environmental restoration can
work together for the betterment of the whole community."
Let me say that a Title VI complaint has never been filed against a
brownfields redevelopment. Involving communities up front, and every step
of the way works.
We've seen this with brownfields.
We've seen this with our successful efforts to clean up Superfund
toxic waste sites. We've established 50 advisory groups at toxic waste
sites across the nation. We've provided $12 million for technical
assistance for citizens, to ensure their informed participation. And to
date, we've cleaned up more Superfund sites in the last five years than in
the previous 12 years.
The process is working. Development is moving forward. Our citizens
are being protected.
Thirty-four years ago, when the Civil Rights Act was adopted, no one
fully appreciated that pollution could also be a means for effecting some
communities more than others. But I remain convinced -- economic
development can continue while we protect the rights of all our citizens to
a safe and healthy environment.
Instead of people scaring the public with predictions of economic
calamity, the nation must come together and take responsible, common sense
steps to ensure protection of public health and the environment in every
one of this nation's communities. Ensuring the basic rights of every
citizen is not about stopping development, but about responsible
I call on you, the mayors, to help us find ways to build our cities so
that our economy continues to grow, and no American community is left
behind. Thank you.
Arab Community Center for Economic & Social Services
2651 Saulino Court, Dearborn MI 48120
313-842-7010 (phone), 313-842-5150 (fax)
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