Congressman John Lewis was recognized for his groundbreaking work in the area of environmental justice. He and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy gave excellent speeches to the packed room.
The event recognized past environmental justice leaders, to focus on the next generation. The event highlighted how America can address many of the environmental justice challenges over the next 20 years.
The Executive Order directs federal agencies to make environmental justice part of their missions by identifying and addressing disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority, low-income populations. The Order is intended to promote nondiscrimination in federal programs substantially affecting human health and the environment. The Order also provides minority and low-income communities access to public information and an opportunity to participate in matters relating to human health or the environment. The Presidential Memorandum accompanying the Order underscores certain provisions of existing law that can help ensure that all communities and people across this nation live in a safe and healthy environment.
On February 10th, 2014, President Obama released a proclamation acknowledging the anniversary of the executive order. The proclamation is much more than a purely symbolic gesture. It is a very visible statement from the White House firmly re-committing this Administration's dedication to making sure that we, "live up to the promise that here in America, no matter who you are or where you come from, you can pursue your dreams in a safe and just environment." (EPA)