Profile of environmental justice issues raised by US Government MOU

Last August  heads of 17 federal agencies and White House offices took an important step in the Administration’s effort to support environmental justice by signing a Memorandum of Understanding on environmental justice.  The EJ MOU renews an Executive Order on environmental justice first signed in 1994. Federal departmental environmental justice strategies required by the MOU were released earlier this week.

The new environmental justice MOU is likely to be much more effective than the original Executive Order,  not only raising the effectiveness of federal agency action but also defining US governmental expectations for industry’s relationship with environmental justice issues. While not binding outside of the US, GallonDaily expects that the US effort is likely to scope expectations of sustainability initiatives such as the Global Reporting Initiative and ISO 26000, an international standard for corporate social responsibility, with respect to expectations for corporate social justice activities in both developed and developing countries.

Gallon Environment Letter will be preparing a summary of the environmental justice plans of the US administration and their significance for business. We will be announcing its availability in Gallon Environment Letter later this year. Strategies with business impacts include:

  • Protecting health in communities already over-burdened by pollution.
  • Empowering communities to take action to improve their health and environment.
  • Protecting and significantly improving the lives of workers from health and safety hazards associated with mining.
  • Addressing the impacts of climate change on transportation systems across the country, with a particular emphasis on coastal areas, many of which have low-income and minority populations.
The complete compendium of the US government’s environmental justice strategies can be found at http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/interagency/iwg-compendium.html

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