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E-M:/ Residents Pack Town Hall on Environmental Justice



News Release

 

 

For Immediate Release: January 31, 2005

 

Contact: Kim Hunter,

Media Coordinator, Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter

313-965-0055 kim.hunter@sierraclub.org

 

Michelle Lin,

Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services

313-216-2229

 

 

 

Detroiters Take a Step Toward Justice

Policy Goals Put Forward at Packed Town Hall Meeting

 
Detroit, January 31, 2005 – It was standing room only at Barth Hall as people from the Detroit area gave testimony and presented their ideas on the environmental justice, the intersection of civil rights and the environmental issues.  Facilitated by Free Press columnist Desiree Cooper, the meeting began with research from Professor Bunyan Bryant of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment and ended with enthusiastic support for state policy supporting environmental justice.  
 
“The Campaign for State Action on Environmental Justice, effectively launched here tonight, is the first step toward a legal remedy for a serious, debilitating problem,” said Attorney Thomas Stephens of the Sugar Law Center. “Environmental racism decimates our health and our economy.” 
 
Over 200 people, white, black, brown, city and suburban dwellers, children, teens and adults and many elected officials came together for the Town Hall Meeting on Environmental Justice.  The event featured testimony from residents from environmental hotspots around Detroit, Dearborn and Hamtramck.  Those people had their wish fulfilled.  
 
During the open dialogue segment, State Senator Hansen Clarke asked for specific ways the state could deal with the disproportionate impact of pollution and dumping suffered by communities of color and low income communities.  That was when Donele Wilkins of Detroiter’s Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ) came forward with a set of goals for a state policy on environmental justice.  
 
  • Have the state gather information and data on those communities and report that information to the Governor.
  • Make Environmental Justice a priority of all state agencies where these issues arise from the DEQ to the DOT.
  • Give those residents more of a say in the types of facilities that go into their communities if those facilities affect their health.  Provide a mechanism for petition of grievances to any and all relevant state agencies.
  • Make the health of all people the top priority when a new technology or facility is proposed for any area of the state, with the burden of proof of safety being placed on the new facility rather than the people.

 

“From the Beard School, built on a toxic waste site to the CanFlow Company driving over here from Canada to dump waste in homes we’ve had enough, said Donele Wilkins of DWEJ.”  We are going to protect ourselves and these policy goals are a first step.”
 
 
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