When we think of environmental problems, we commonly refer to issues like global warming that affect the entire earth. Yet the damage caused by environmental problems is not always evenly distributed. The JACL is committed to improving the livelihoods of AAPI communities that are unjustly and disproportionately harmed by the mistreatment of the environmental system. The JACL believes that everyone deserves the right to the same clean environment and will work to make it a reality.
WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines Environmental Justice as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people – regardless of race, color, national origin, or income – with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
Fair treatment: No group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations, or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal programs and policies
- Potentially affected community residents have an appropriate opportunity to participate in decision-making about a proposed activity that will affect their environment and/or health
- The public’s contribution can influence the regulatory agency’s decision
- The concerns of all participants involved will be considered in the decision-making process
- The decision-makers seek out and facilitate the involvement of those potentially affected
First place Public Service Announcement chosen by the EPA: "The Riches of the Environment"
- Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
- Faces of the Grassroots: Environmental Justice Video Contest
- Smart Growth Conference
- 2010 Conference on Environmental Justice
- 2010 JACL Collegiate Conference
- Atlanta, Georgia Assembly
- Matsunaga Event/Earth Day
A fishing boat in the Gulf Coast is taken out of commission due to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
The urgency for environmental justice is greater than ever, as the Vietnamese fishermen in the Gulf Coast suffer economically and environmentally due to language barriers. Though BP has offered compensation and alternative job opportunities to those who have lost their jobs due to the oil spill, many of the Vietnamese cannot understand English and are thus unable to access the resouces necessary to recover from the disaster.
Public Service Announcement
Second Place: Environmental Justice and You - Albany, NY
Third Place: The Children of Tomorrow - Carlsbad, CA
First Place: BOLD Teens the New Faces of Grassroots - Dorchester, MA
Second Place: The Dream Reborn (My President is Green) - Atlanta, GA
Third Place: Water in Maywood, Aguas Con el Agua - Los Angeles, CA
SMART GROWTH CONFERENCE
JACL National Executive Director Floyd Mori, and JACL Pacific Northwest Regional Director Karen Yoshitomi attended the Smart Growth Conference in Seattle, Washington on February 4-6, 2010. The Conference included panels and workshops educating participants on topics such as how grass-root organizations can work together to achieve sustainable systems. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, and Department of Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood were in attendance as the keynote speakers.
Among the Asian American environmental justice advocates was Father Vien of the Mary Queen of Vietnam (MQVN), who helped the Vietnamese Americans rebuild Versailles and prevent toxic landfill from being stored right next to a local church.
National Executive Director, Floyd Mori, with various advocates of environmental justice.
JACL National Executive Director, Floyd Mori, and Inouye Fellow Jean Shiraki attended the 2010 Conference on Environmental Justice, Air Quality, Goods Movement, and Green Jobs: Evolution and Innovation in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference included participants from all walks of life interested in learning about opportunities to move toward environmental justice in their communities.
The White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) has made the environment a key issue of the Initiative. The JACL has partnered with the AAPI Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Initiative and will continue working with them to raise awareness on environmental issues and green jobs to the AAPI community. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences presented research on the correlation between the environment and health. The findings of this research will help advocacy groups like JACL to present cases about their respective environment and health to officials.
Excited AAPI youth leaders taking a tour of Washington, DC after the Collegiate Conference workshops.
The JACL Collegiate Conference, held June 10-13, 2010 in Washington, DC, hosted a group of 14 AAPI youth leaders from across the country. The conference consisted of leadership workshops, speakers from several AAPI organizations and advice on promoting advocacy on college campuses. Students were paired into teams to explore a specific issue more in-depth, and made presentations on Health Disparities, Environmental Justice, and Arizona’s HB 2281 at the end of the conference.
Congressman Mike Honda and Anh Joseph Cao meet with community leaders and State Commissioners.
JACL National Executive Director Floyd Mori and Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) attended a conference on May 1, 2010, addressing Gwinett Country Commission’s decision to build a waste transfer station next door to the Holy Vietnamese Martyr’s Mission. The Commission had voted 3-2 in favor of the project, even though the country’s planning staff said it was not consistent with the recommended land use for the area. The project’s intentions were questioned as potentially toxic material were several feet of the sanctuary. The JACL will work with local and national AAPI organizations to force the County Commissioners to reverse their decision. Leaders are also asking that the Environmental Protection Agency to look into the matter.
The pastor of the Holy Vietnamese Martyr’s Mission, Father Vien, a representative of the Archdiocese, and two leaders in the church’s congregation were in attendance as well. Father Vien has been a prominent figure in the New Orleans area, notable for the documentary “A Village Called Versailles.” In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Father Vien reunited followers and members of the community to rebuild the church and restore the welfare of its residents.
After having been devastated by Hurricane Katrina and fighting a toxic landfill, the people of the region now suffer from the recent BP Oil Spill. JACL and other organizations like Boat People SOS (BPSOS), are working with both federal and local government agencies to address these concerns regarding the Asian American communities in the affected areas.
JACL Inouye Fellow Jean Shiraki poses with students at Spark Matsunaga Elementary School during their Earth Day event.
In honor of Earth Day, the JACL joined the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a Sensory and Interactive Garden Project at Spark Matsunaga Elementary School and Longview School in Germantown, Maryland. The Longview School, located on the Spark Matsunaga campus, provides comprehensive educational services for students 5 to 21 years of age with severe to profound mental retardation and/or multiple disabilities. With enrollment of almost 1,000 students, Matsunaga ES is one of the largest elementary schools in the Montgomery County Public Schools. The Sensory and Interactive Garden Project was designed by EPA to promote participation and facilitate environmental education and allow Longview’s students to interact with their outdoor environment, observe animal habitats, appreciate the beauty of nature, and help make science concepts more concrete and tangible.
From planting different types of plants to painting birdhouses, the Longview and Spark Matsunaga students enjoyed interacting not only with the environment on that beautiful sunny day, but also with each other. The JACL commends the EPA for coordinating a great Earth Day program that incorporated both community involvement and educating students on the importance of environmentally responsible behavior.