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EPA, DEC launch statewide environmental justice listening tour


Mon, Apr 8th 2024 07:00 am

Meetings ‘advance community conversations and engagement around federal and New York state environmental justice programs’

√ First listening session scheduled for April 15 in Niagara Falls

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Press Release

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced a series of environmental justice listening sessions to support and enhance meaningful engagement with communities with environmental justice concerns. The events support DEC and EPA’s ongoing efforts to promote and enhance existing state and federal environmental justice programs to better serve the community, build relationships between the agencies and community members, and help prioritize future outreach efforts for public participation.

“New York state is making significant progress to address longstanding environmental issues affecting disadvantaged communities, but more work must be done to advance DEC’s environmental justice objectives to improve the health and wellbeing of marginalized New Yorkers,” Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “DEC is proud to partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to launch this listening tour and hear directly from Indigenous Nations and communities disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution and climate change, particularly greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.”

Regional EPA Administrator Lisa F. Garcia said, “Communities speak for themselves, and EPA is here to listen. We are honored to kick off our EJ listening tour in Western New York with DEC to better understand the unique challenges and aspirations of communities affected by the cumulative impacts of legacy pollution, climate change and historic disinvestment. Our goal is to establish stronger relationships with community leaders and people potentially affected by environmental pollution to promote meaningful engagement.”

The listening sessions are jointly organized by EPA Region 2 and DEC’s offices of environmental justice and Indian Nation affairs. The first meeting will be held April 15 at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center, 1201 Pine Ave. Doors open at 5 p.m. and participants can attend any time between 5-7:30 p.m. to participate in an informal and interactive open house with EPA and DEC technical experts. There will be a formal presentation and brief remarks by DEC and EPA leadership at 6 p.m., with opportunities for attendees to provide input throughout the evening.

Participants will be able to engage with staff from both agencies to provide comments and feedback on environmental issues in their neighborhoods during the listening session. DEC and EPA will also have information on grant and technical assistance opportunities available. Future sessions are planned statewide and will be announced throughout 2024 and 2025.

DEC’s office of environmental justice works to address environmental issues and concerns that affect primarily low-income and minority communities through grant opportunities, enforcement of environmental laws and regulations, consultation, guidance, and enhanced public participation. For more information on DEC’s office of environmental justice, visit the DEC website at https://dec.ny.gov/get-involved/environmental-justice.

DEC’s office of Indian Nation affairs works to address environmental concerns, cultural resources, and advance shared knowledge through consultation with state and federally recognized Indian Nations. To learn more, visit the DEC website at https://dec.ny.gov/about/dei/indian-nation-affairs.

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