Resolution on Environmental Justice Exposed

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The Resolution on Environmental Justice was adopted by ALEC's Natural Resources Task Force at the November 14, 1998 Task Force Meeting and approved by the full ALEC Board of Directors December, 1998. ALEC has attempted to distance itself from this piece of legislation after the launch of in 2011, but it has done nothing to get it repealed in the states where it previously pushed for it to be made into law.

ALEC Resolution Text

WHEREAS, (INSERT STATE) believes all citizens have a right to equal protection under law without regard to racial or economic makeup, and therefore, federal and state laws must always be applied and enforced equally; and

WHEREAS, (INSERT STATE) fully supports the implementation of environmental programs to protect the health of all citizens and the environment in a manner that fully complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and

WHEREAS, citizens, and local governments should be informed of, risks to human health and the environment from any permitted facilities in their communities; and

WHEREAS, state agencies and the private sector have a responsibility to enter into a dialogue with citizens and local government regarding the permitting of all facilities; and

WHEREAS, inadequate protections for citizens would be a breach of the public trust, the construction and engineering standards requisite to the environmental permitting process must reflect protections necessary for the heath and safety of citizens; and

WHEREAS, the President adopted Executive Order 12898 affirming this nation’s commitment to environmental justice in every community across the nation; and

WHEREAS, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has proposed interim guidance intended to provide a framework to investigate Title VI administrative complaints challenging permit applications on environmental justice grounds; and

WHEREAS, the Interim Guidance imposes additional and complex procedures on the permitting process without providing clear standards for those seeking or granting permits, or clear expectations for environmental improvements which may be sought by the community; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. EPA’s interim guidance can be applied to industries who are in compliance with existing laws, statutes and regulations and such compliance “will not ordinarily be considered a substantial, legitimate justification” for issuance of a permit when a Title VI complaint has been filed; and

WHEREAS, the Interim Guidance contains many undefined terms that invite and encourage unfounded claims for mitigation and could result in delays for otherwise properly approved and needed development projects; and

WHEREAS, the Interim Guidance Document would conflict with state and local land use policies, and the Administration’s stated policies, including, but not limited to: brownfields cleanup and redevelopment, urban and rural revitalization efforts, and job creation in low income areas; and

WHEREAS, environmental, land use and development permits are the proper domain of state and local government; this guidance would create another level of review and shift permit decision-making to the federal government, and would work against efforts to achieve environmental protection and promote development; and.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that (INSERT STATE) reaffirms its commitment to the fair and equitable application of environmental laws to all citizens; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, (INSERT STATE) urges the U.S. EPA to withdraw the Interim Guidance and replace it with a guidance document that is crafted in conjunction with state and local governments and stakeholders through a formal public process; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that any federal guidance concerning existing laws and regulations should embrace the following principles: Should not increase the complexity of renewing or obtaining permits; Should provide adequate and definite time frames and appropriate thresholds for accepting administrative complaints and avoid creating unnecessary delays in the environmental permitting process; Should provide a clear process early in the environmental permitting procedure to encourage and allow for public participation and dialogue and for state and local governments to factor environmental justice questions and concerns into environmental decision making and ensure that Title VI concerns are addressed in a timely manner at the state and local level, and Should resolve conflicts with other laws, programs, and policies, including but not limited to: local zoning laws, brownfields cleanup and redevelopment programs, urban and rural revitalization efforts, greenfield preservation efforts, development activities, and pristine area designations under the Clean Air Act and other environmental statutes.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution will be distributed to the President, the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, all Governors and members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Adopted by ALEC's Natural Resources Task Force at the November 14, 1998 Task Force Meeting.

Approved by full ALEC Board of Directors December, 1998.