*Jacksonville** Selected as Environmental Justice Showcase Community*
Contact Information: Davina Marraccini, 404-562-8293, firstname.lastname@example.org **
(ATLANTA - April 30, 2010) The city of Jacksonville, Fl. was selected by EPA as one of 10 communities nationwide to highlight ways to address environmental justice (EJ) challenges. As part of this effort, EPA has committed $100,000 to provide seed money for projects in Jacksonville’s Health Zone 1 over the next two years. Health Zone 1 encompasses zip codes 32202, 32204, 32206, 32208, 32209 and 32254.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced that, under the initiative, Jacksonville will be one of the national models for EPA’s commitment to EJ efforts. EJ refers to the disproportionate environmental burdens placed on low-income and minority communities.
Each of the selected EJ Showcase Communities will use collaborative, community-based approaches to improve public health and the environment. The EPA funding will help address specific concerns in disproportionately burdened communities, thereby increasing EPA’s ability to achieve environmental results in these communities.
“The Jacksonville EJ Showcase Community pilot presents an opportunity to work closely with residents in the city’s urban core to address their priority environmental and public health issues,” said Stan Meiburg, EPA Acting Regional Administrator for the Southeast. “By coordinating closely with our federal, state and local partners, and better leveraging resources, we expect to achieve measurable environmental and public health improvements.”
EPA’s selection of Jacksonville for this effort will enable the agency to build upon ongoing projects in the community. Over the next two years, EPA will collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders, including residents, community organizations, the city of Jacksonville, Duval County, the state of Florida and other federal agencies to implement a variety of public health and environmental improvement projects. The projects may range from efforts that address water quality concerns and increase community capacity for green jobs, to activities that improve indoor air quality in schools and reduce asthma and toxics exposure. To begin working on environmental issues that impact children in Jacksonville, today EPA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Communities in Schools, an organization that strives to address children’s unmet needs, to work collaboratively throughout the pilot to address health disparities.
“Jacksonville is proud to receive the designation of an Environmental Justice Showcase Community,” said Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton. “While this designation highlights our ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life for our citizens living in areas of environmental concern, we know there is still much to be done. We look forward to leveraging this recognition to strengthen our relationships with our state and federal partners as we address additional challenges in our communities.”
“We can achieve much more collectively, when we combine and leverage our resources, than as stand-alone organizations working independently,” said Greg Strong, Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Northeast District Director. “This kick-off event is an excellent way for us to find new opportunities to work collaboratively with our partners in order to benefit the local community and further improve human health and the environment.”
EPA will host the first of a series of Community Information Exchanges today from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Beaver Street Enterprise Center. At this exchange, EPA will provide the community with additional information about the EJ Showcase pilot and answer questions. In addition, representatives from over 11 federal, state and local agencies will join EPA staff to provide information about their ongoing programs, resources and efforts to improve human health and the local environment.
One of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s goals has been to expand the conversation on environmentalism and give a voice to vulnerable groups that haven’t always been part of the broader national environmental discussion. Administrator Jackson said, “Our 10 Showcase Communities will provide lessons for how we make every community a better place for people to live, for business to invest and bring jobs, and for opportunities to grow.”
The other nine locations selected as Environmental Justice Showcase Communities include: Bridgeport, Conn., Staten Island, N.Y., Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, Wis., Port Arthur, Texas, Kansas City, Mo. and Kansas City, Kan., Salt Lake City, Utah, Los Angeles Area Environmental Enforcement Collaborative, Calif., and Yakima, Wash.
More information on environmental justice and the Environmental Justice Showcase Communities:
www.epa.gov/compliance/environmentaljustice/grants/ej-showcase.html [ http://www.epa.gov/compliance/environmentaljustice/grants/ej-showcase.html ]
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