By Yessenia Fuentes for Colorlines
The task force aims to provide marginalized groups with a voice.
Three representatives of color announced today (April 27) the creation of the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force.
Congressman Donald McEachin (D-VA), Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) will co-chair the task force, which they announced outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. during the week of events leading up to Saturday’s (April 29) People’s Climate March.
“The task force was created to protect a single fundamental right that all Americans need clear air, clean water and clean communities,” said McEachin during the announcement. “All of us have an interest in building a cleaner economy.
They were joined by ranking member Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and environmental justice advocates Vien Truong, director of Green for All; Mark Magaña, president and CEOof GreenLatinos; and Mustafa Santiago Ali, former senior EPA environmental justice official who is now senior vice president of climate, environmental justice and community revitalization at the Hip Hop Caucus.
While members have created several environmental-oriented coalitions or caucuses in the past, this is the first congressional subset to zero in on how communities of color, low-income families and other marginalized groups can combat climate change and environmental degradation. This task force will now provide them with a voice.
During the announcement, Jayapal explicitly mentioned the importance of giving a platform to these voices in today’s political climate in which the EPA administratordoes not believe in climate change and President Donald Trump is committed to fossil fuel projects on tribal lands, like the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. She went on:
“This disregard for Native land and for the people who live on it, the neglect of proven science and the stories of those who have seen our environment’s changes for generations, the withdrawal from global protections and the false promises of prosperity made to coal miners whose jobs will not return—this is a dangerous place for us as a country and as a world.”
Speakers called on the public to engage in the debate surrounding environmental justice by marching in the People’s Climate March Saturday in Washington, D.C., (or any of it sister marches around the country), reaching out to the newly established task force and joining local environmental organizations.
Live streams of today’s announcement can be found on McEachin’s Facebook page.
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