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tv   Experts Testify on Environmental Justice  CSPAN  September 15, 2021 9:04am-11:04am EDT

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he was ambitious and defeatist. these are the words of a journalist and former reporter at "the wall street journal." words from a book review written about joseph p. kennedy senior, father of jack, bobby and teddy kennedy. it's a new book titled "the ambassador." it's about joseph p. kennedy senior's time as ambassador to great britain, 1938 to 1940. >> susan ronald on this episode of booknotes plus. listen at or wherever you get your podcast. next, a look at environmental justice, including the potential impact of climate-related natural disasters on minority and low income communities. cleaning up toxic waste sites and access to safe drinking water. oregon's senator chairs the senate environment and public works subcommittee.
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the subcommittee will come to order. ranking member wicker colleagues and guests welcome to the first hearing the subcommittee and chemical the, waste management environmental justice regulatory oversight in the 170th congress. today's hearing will explore critical issues of the marmots of the marmots of justice and
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adverse impacts on at risk communities. it's fitting that these important issues are the subject of our first hearing. this year the compartment of justice was that as the name is the committee highlighting the growing awareness of and public conversations around environmental justice in america. as climate change ravages our country and our planet with many fires burning across 15 state the biggest bootleg fire in my state of oregon communities confronting flooding ever more frequent destructive storms we cannot ignore the fact that while we all feel its effects the worst consequence in the ravages of climate change for disproportionally falls on communities of color and communities with the fewest resources for adapting a recovering. frontline committees indigenous communities communities of color not only are they more prone to
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experiencing extreme weather events but they also face greater health version such as asthma and let poisoning and was tied rates of heart related illnesses and deaths. oftentimes these impacts are the direct result of decisions and discriminatory policies decisions like where to place the landfill and where to place a factory, tax -- toxic weight zones and where water for structure is prioritized and where they are ignored were green spaces are created and where they are not created. concerned citizens have been highlighting this for decades along with the cost of these decisions and policies have been at nord. unfortunately or fortunately that has been changing to the point that today we are engaged in overdue national conversation about environmental justice and the well-being of all of our communities. over the past seven months i've
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been pleased to see the biden administration actively engaged at the forefront of this conversation or the present executive order directing the clean energy investments to disadvantaged committees bringing much needed resources to bear including ablution in clean water for structure to force correct for decades of persistent injustice endured by these communities. beyond that the administration is contained to demonstrate its commitment to environmental justice to the work of the white house and environmental justice advisory council made up of a wide range of leaders on the issue. the council is making contributions to guiding the present environmental justice efforts and recommendations contained within its landmark report. today's hearing the white house ongoing efforts to address environmental justice are significant finds that progress is being made.
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yet one has to only look at the disparate impact of heatwave out west or the wildfires running up the communities or the impact of covid to know that we have barely begun to address the environmental injustices. we are fortunate today to have leading voices in this critical and growing conversation to talk about issues and challenges like to thank all of our witnesses for being with us today to be brings a unique voice a unique set of experiences to this dialogue and in pursuit of conference of justice means to uplift and every voice and to those whose historically have not had a seat at the table. we only succeed in eliminating injustices when all communities are listened to and we will commit ourselves to dressing the challenges raised. i would like to now turn to my
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ranking member senator wicker for any remarks he would like to make. said thank you mr. chairman for bringing this hearing this important topic and i welcome our witnesses as the subcommittee considers issues affecting environmental justice. to begin with i think we should define what we mean by environmental justice and it's really a better topic to college environmental injustice and those populations you are talking about who are experiencing injustice. although federal law gives no official definition to the term it typically refers to situations with adverse health or environmental impacts falling disproportionate minority and low-income populations. there has been a growing recognition of this environmental injustice in recent years through the flat water crisis in michigan comes to mind as a major example. not all cases of environmental
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injustice received the same attention. one prominent example is in my state of mississippi where resident from the south delta long suffered repeated flooding on the mississippi river. the south is a predominately minority population and faces unique economic challenges which are made worse by the recurrence of flooding. this region is flooded in eight out of the last 10 years and most recently this year with nearly 300,000 acres inundated. flooding was worse in 2019 with over half a million acres under water for months. water over top roads closed three highways cat many residents are from leaving their homes 32 and 31,000 acres of cropland were flooded destroying livelihoods in a region where a group culture is the main income driver and wildlife was forced to flee to higher ground pick
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686 acres were destroyed and two people were tragically killed. according to one study from mississippi state university the 2019 backwater floods resulted in residents with $2000 in a pocket expenses. q. in you imagine people refusing to build levees around the property to keep the floodwaters from encroaching. these are cost of many residents cannot afford. roughly one third of the population lives in poverty. for years residents have moved away because of continuing -- as population declines the community fabric has frayed leaving many with nowhere else to go. regular flooding rain forces this because residents lack the service they need to build homes and establish new businesses per
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the real tragedy though is that these foods are entirely preventable. in 1941, 80 years ago congress made a promise to the people living along the mississippi river. that promise was the mississippi rivers and tributaries which includes a series of flood control and pumps to remove excess rainwater trapped by the levees from the residential areas and farmland productive years businesses built up and down the mississippi river with one major exception. the zoo backwater pubs that had never been completed. the system has been completed everywhere else. of the four backwater areas along the mississippi the yazoo backwater is the only one. if we are here to discuss environmental injustices i would suggest the residents of one of the most glaring instances of environmental injustice anywhere
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in the nation. the good news though is that today there is a viable project to remedy this situation. for years i've worked with local stakeholders army corps of engineers and federal officials to get these pumps finally built and earlier this year the army corps issued a record decision in favor of the pump project that brings the closer to final construction. i'm happy to say mr. chairman and ladies and gentlemen that this plan is a win for animal life and plant life and human life. there's no doubt this proposal would have a positive impact on minority and low income communities. homes and businesses would enjoy a hedge of protection allowing for greater economic development to take hold in the proposal would improve flooding and wildlife conditions water
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quality and it would improve the environment in nearly 2500 acres of cropland with the reforestation providing quality habitat for many fish and wildlife or the science and the economics finally all line up in support of the backwater pumps produces project shows their communities across the nation that need true physical infrastructure to remedy this environmental injustice. thank you mr. chair. thank you very much. we will now introduce our witnesses and i will introduce the first two and senator wicker i believe wants to introduce -- professor will be joining us on line from the university of oregon pushes on the frontlines of expanding the school's environmental justice efforts. she's a leading scholar in the
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field of member or mental justice. back in january as part of the team that received a grant to established the pacific northwest futures institute for racial and climate justice which seeks to tackle the intertwined issues of racial and climate justice and working toward a more just future for our region as well as in creased higher education for starkly underrepresented communities. the professor has published six books in her field and has received numerous honors for concluding the presidential achievement award geographical metal for the american geographic society and guggenheim fellowships. catherine coleman is the founding director of the center for rural enterprises and environmental justice and is also the current on the advisory council.
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ms. flowers is an internationally recognized by reflective vest and recipient of the author greatness of our serves as the rule development manager for brent stephenson's equal justice initiative a board member for the center for earth ethics at union theological seminary sits on the board of directors for the climate reality project and the natural resources counsel. thank you to both of them for joining us today and we will now turned the microphone over to senator wicker. >> thank you represented merkley but i'm honored to introduce tracy hardin from the state of mississippi. mrs. hardin is a light long resident of the south delta. she owns chuck's dairy bar that picture in the committee and chuck's burgers and milkshakes for tracing her husband jim who is with the sedan the audience purchased chuck's in 2006. tracy has been successfully
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operating it since. chuck's patrons include farmers and farmworkers and sportsmen particularly hunters who travel to the south the reason for hunting season. her business suffered during the pandemic but is she will tell you today her business was far more impacted by the 2019 floods in the south delta but every day she witnesses the hidden costs that comes from government delays building the backwater pumps and she has first-hand experience with many of the issues we will discuss and i appreciate her traveling to washington d.c. and appearing before the subcommittee. >> thank you mr. chairman and ranking member liquor for holding this hearing could i'm honored to introduce a truly great alaskan leader delbert rexford who will get the award for traveling the furthest for
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this hearing coming from alaska at the top of the world in the northernmost community in north america. if you are looking up the miles it's maybe 4000 miles from d.c. so mr. rexford thank you for being here. it's great to see you. his experience in community service includes lay pastor at the presbyterian church city is councilman for seven years borough assemblyman for six years alaska municipal league director and president you i see board of directors and construction director executive director for the arctic park assistance mission member in the native mission of tribal council just to name a few of these also a member of the newest counsel general assembly where he focused on contaminants in pollutants in the high arctic
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polar region. mr. rexford learned to read and write english by a seal oil lamp. mr. rexford is a grade alaskan native leader from the most northern community in all of north america, one of my favorite places in the world in alaska and if you haven't been you should go. some amazing place with wonderful people. the great time to go is during the celebration following the spring and fall whaling season. they still do legal whaling hunts in her native people in the doing that for thousands of years. americans still do that and it's incredible. you can see for yourself how the residents there have kept their cultural heritage not only alive but thriving due to leaders like mr. rexford. you'll no doubt hear from mr. rexford that this is not always easy.
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largely because of actions and inactions of the federal government and we discussed the contamination of federal lands. federal lands conveyed to the alaskan people there were all polluted. unbelievable. it's an ongoing struggle to clean up these lands and it's long past time to right this wrong heard mr. rexford focuses on the frustration he and so many alaska natives feel about their ability to have an economy, an economy based on resource development and the proceeds that alaskan natives received from oil and gas and mining in alaska on state tribal native and federal land. natural resources in the north slope of alaska have been a lifeline, literally a lifeline to the communities across my state.
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unfortunately this administration and some of their extreme environmental allies are constantly trying to shut down the resource development in alaska that has been so vital to the health and well-being of the alaskan native people. as the mayor of the north slope borough and other -- harry brower so eloquently wrote in "the wall street journal" recently quote we treasure protector landed wildlife, the resources of environmental groups in cities thousands of miles away from alaska claimed to care about. the way we see it. about the land of the wildlife also means caring about the indigenous people who live in these communities could i'm sure mr. rexford would agree and i very much look forward to this testimony and thank you again mr. chairman for holding this hearing. >> thank you very much.
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now we hear from the witnesses themselves and we'll turn first to laura pulido. through on line magic. >> and you'll hear me okay? >> we can now hear you and we continue to thank you and welcome. sara chair mark lee and ranking member record and everybody on the committee good morning. thank you for the opportunity to testify today on environmental justice. i'm delighted that public works subcommittee on chemical safety management and environmental justice is being reconsidered to include this urgent topic. i'm a professor at the university of oregon has been studying environmental justice for over 30 years. i first became interested in amber: lareau wing up in los angeles and not being able to go to the amounts due to the smog. i still remember the studs in the. ernie: lungs as a child.
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previously much work and because southern california was too hot and i suffered from heat. today i like to provide environmental justice research and highlight what i think are some of the preservation's -- [inaudible] environmental justice for people of color and low-income populations in rural areas or displeasure i impacted and i really appreciate the fact is the center said it should be called environmental injustice. environmental justice or the rubrics that challenge the deep problems. environmental justice goes back to the late 1980s. several events participated. protests farmers struggling to
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get farmworkers struggles of pesticides native reservations dealing with waste committees in opposed -- and lacking access to clean water. in 1987 we conduct the first national level study of uncontrolled hazardous waste sites and their proximity to various demographics. [video playing] since then environmental justice has had a major impact on the larger environmental movement and society. i would like to now highlight some of the president environmental injustice challenges that require action. first community of impacts are committed and asked her opportunity to take into account
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multiple forms of pollution and vulnerability that impact geographic communities. almost all systems treat polluters individually disregarding the impacts of industrial concentrations. this has. >> a major mismatch in terms of public health and regulatory policy. for example parts of long beach and los angeles there's an epidemic of childhood asthma which is due both to the logistics industry as well as individual factories. in california scholars have developed prototypes to begin considering impacts everything for individuals to identify the risk in a given place. such truths need to be refined and applied across the country. number two climate change in heat. we know that low income and communities of color are the
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most vulnerable to climate change. they are vulnerable because they have fewer resources and capacity to respond to heat cold drought and flooding. the end result is high levels of death and displacement. this past summer the temperature hit a record 118 degrees. that particular heatwave episode 118 people died in oregon. in other areas there are significant differences in the heat. some places tend to have more trees and shade which led to a 25-degree differential in temperature in parts of portland. in places like mississippi louisiana and south carolina it is the poorest that are most impacted as we saw in hurricane katrina as well as south carolina in 2015 as well as senator wicker's story as well.
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exacerbating the situation is reached and evidence that -- is far more wall likely to go to wealthy homeowners. these resources need to be directed for increasing shade weatherization projects shelter and building a sustainable energy system. and lastly wire access. we have access to clean possible water they say is not issue but that is not sure especially rural areas. sometimes people with kids disconnected from utility in the contamination crisis but a [roll call] communities are disproportionately impacted. for example banov a hoe reservation expanding arizona and new mexico is one of the highest number of households and
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had oil advisories for years. this in invest in infrastructure to solve the problems. thank you for your time and i'd be happy to answer any questions. >> thank you very much and we will have art testimony be far we have questions in next catherine coleman flowers. >> thank you chair merkley, ranking member wicker and members of the committee for the opportunity to testify. my name is catherine coleman flowers and i'm a proud native of alabama a rural area located between selma and montgomery. we have a history of fighting for equality and the right to vote. in addition the selma to montgomery trail goes through the county. it is where in the early 1900 sharecroppers organized for jobs and justice.
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many of the suns and daughters including my family served united states military. we have the deep legacy of holding up core democratic values but i stand the most values as a country girl that grew up with a healthy respect for nature and i appreciate what our creator has provided for us which includes -- when we are out of balance with creation. in addition to that, it includes includes -- what we are seeing today this skills and more powerful storms sea level rise heat zones wildfires droughts floods pollution raw sewage or failing water treatment systems. i've often talked to people from both sides of the aisles bernie sanders cory booker doug jones and -- to see the inequalities
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and to hear from local people what is needed to address them. at the height of a pandemic lowndes county had the highest infection rate per-capita in the state of alabama. declining national life expectancies are a reminder but happens when poverty inequality or no sanitation infrastructure and climate change come together per the climate crisis impacts all of us. we are dealing with failing of the structure and it also includes the most they seek infrastructure sanitation. in the town of -- alabama the county seat for more than 20 years wish telling people about the sewage from a nearby lagoon that is backing up into her home. she is a wastewater treatment -- but all they can provide is so pumped up to pump the sewage out
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of her yard from time to time. this is indicative of a failing of destruction a feeling of destruction sanitation inequality that exists throughout the united states. to montgomery alabama were communities are -- or were poorer families are in seeking a virus of justice as well as good-paying jobs. on a recent visit to the town of mount vernon new york i met families unable to flush their toilets for more than 20 years. the american jobs plan provides an opportunity to deal with the climate crisis head-on. it's a chance to create jobs and build of a structure to create sustainable economic development and make america a model of ingenuity where we can all have clean air and water. this funding should come with guardrails that will ensure charlotte mayor lindemann nailed
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from your would no longer get sewage in their yards or homes and in the sanitation system come with the same parts warranty would expect from a car a hot water heater or heating and cooling system. i'm requesting that you also coordinate investment and the structure including sanitation for all. i request that we come together and what this climate crisis to ensure the future of children grandchildren and seven generations to come. i thank you for this opportunity to speak before you today and i look forward to continuing conversation about environmental justice and climate justice for all americans. thank you. >> thank you very much and now we will turn to tracy harden. welcome. see the chairman merkley ranking
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member wicker thank you for the opportunity to testify today. my name is tracy harden i live in mississippi and i own and operate checks dairy bar. in my testimony and would like to provide the committee a real-life example of how federal actions or inactions have disproportionately impacted minority and low income populations. the south mississippi delta is one of the poorest areas of the nation. 27% live in poverty and more than 62% of residents are minorities. floods are the preparations for floods are constant fixture in our lives. growing up i can remember packing every spring and being ready to leave home at any moment if the water would rise. my mother was the school bus driver and when the water would rise she would have to driver routes on the river levees and hours out of the way to get us
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to school. the south flooding of my town has been a regular occurrence even now if they see my nieces having to take those long bus rides to school. unsafe levees. one of the earliest documents of good sell to the floods was in 1927 afterwards the federal government assumed response to any for managing the mississippi river system and construct things structures including 22 other pumping plants. later congress expanded the government's responsibility including in 1941 when authorized backwater project. the yazoo backwater project is comprised of three key features, levees along the yazoo river completed in 1978 that kept the water within the river during high water. the steel biogates -- sierra sia
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colin just a moment. we will see if we can get it technical fix to that echo. go ahead. >> it if i could get back a little bit fiesta backwater project is comprised of three key features levees along the yazoo river completed in 1978 that kept the water within the river during high water. the steel gates on the gezdah completed in 1969 to prevent the mississippi from flowing back water into the south delta and the final unfinished feature a set of tom's to pump water over the levee when the gates were closed. this system is good and without all three of auctioning features it just doesn't work. my husband tim and i purchased chuck's dairy bar when our family farms sold in 2006. checks has been in business since 1977 and it is a fixture
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in the county. one of the people we service our small committee a local hangout for everyone. we try to keep our prices low to make sure all of our neighbors over a third of whom are living below poverty line are welcomed. however since we purchased chuck's in 2007 we have seen seven of the 12 worst backwater floods on record since the levees were completed in 1978. is your water rose to almost 19 feet. we also had floods in 2008, 2009, 2016, 2018, 2020 and worst of all 2019 when the water devastatingly rose to over 98 feet. the 2019 floods inundated 548,000 acres. 2,031,000 acres of cropland in 686 homes.
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water was so high we were fractions of an inch away from losing critical infrastructure like our sewer systems. we call it the forgotten backwater floods a cassette recedes so little national attention despite shattering so many records. annual flooding has an enormous lasting impact on our region well beyond folks not being able to frequent my restaurant because they are not making a paycheck. populations are decreasing come economic opportunity is fleeting, lives and livelihoods are being lost. my friend anderson jones has been displaced from his home since 2019 even though he had federal flood insurance and builds three levees around his home. each one failed. it highlights a lack of understanding of environmental extremists who advocate alternative to the pumps you
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can't get to your home because it's surrounded by water you cannot maintain a levee and even then what way is that to live? 's in 2019 we saw the worst of it. two residents even lost their lives in that flood but unfortunately the residents of the southdale haven't seen the last of it. what we desperately need to stop the annual flooding in the yazoo backwater basin is the final component of the project or even need the backwater pumps. this project is comprised and has the support of environmental groups including the mississippi wildlife federation and the native conservancy. in its environmental justice analysis the army corps concluded the backwater pumps would specifically benefit a community of color. they've been blessed with strong support from our representatives
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congressman thompson senator hyde-smith and of course senator wicker. thank you. today on appealing to the rest of congress the biden administration to fulfill the promise that was made to the people of the south delta 80 years ago to complete this essential project. not doing so unfairly impacts people of color and the poor. it is the definition of an environmental injustice and we need your help to fix the pumps. on behalf of my family my neighbors my friends a mic committee think you for the opportunity to testify today. >> thank you very much ms. harden. mr. rexford. >> good morning. for the record delbert rexford third ranking member wicker and members of the subcommittee i am honored to testify before you today.
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senator sullivan thank you for affording me this opportunity. my name is delbert j. rexford. i'm a member of the independent native tribe. i have lived in the north slope's since august 17, 1959 when we moved there. that is a very vivid memory in my mind. i'm a shareholder and have been involved with a corporation for over 40 years fighting for the rights of our people and creating opportunities to provide economic sustainable projects for future generations. i thank you for allowing me the opportunity to provide a unique gift a first-hand if of the impact the federal government activity has had on our environment, our community, our food, our water sources workforce in human life.
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in 1971 congress backed by the settlement act better known as -- the federal government agreed to convey to the lax -- alaska corp.'s 44 million acres of land and compensation of minute or 62.5 million the settlement of alaska's native people. i want to emphasize alaska native people gave up 88% of their traditional and customary land through this settlement. the people of the arctic slope where the only people who did not support it. we were fighting for 99,000 square miles of customary lands. pristine land that sustains our life. we as a people are heavily
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dependent on resources consistent of migratory birds caribou fish marine mammal and that sustains her healthy way of life it supports our spiritual link to nature. it is our culture belief and traditional value that taking care of our environment and respecting it will continue to sustain our way of life for future generations. under the terms alaska native corporations are mandating and i repeat mandating to provide for the economy social and cultural well-being of the shareholders in perpetuity. this means throughout their lifespan. these were left behind by certain agencies.
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as detailed in my written testimony the 1991 congress directed the department of the interior to submit a report on contaminating land. partly the department of interior report asserted that anc's would not be held liable for prior contamination and reinforce the law that requires the federal government to clear the abandoned contaminated properties up on by federal agencies of the united states. in 1998 the department of interior greed to take a leadership role to facilitate the cleanup of contaminated lands. a 2018 update by the alaska department of them our mental conservation and environmental protection oversees cleanup of the site. this 2016 update also stated
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that it does not have the authority to provide lightality relief for previous landowners that consisted of federal agencies during that period. contaminating -- also detailed in my written testimony is this report. the detail of the historical failure of numerous governmental agencies to accept a leadership role to take the lead to cleanup our lands contaminated by the united states government. i am here today to share my first-hand knowledge as a lifelong alaskan resident probably born in the territory prior to statehood to the state of alaska. i'm proud of that. we have seen a change over my lifetime. i have grown up on this land
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i've hunted fished in wales and i've also worked on cleanup projects that the government has done over the years on those sites that the preservation abandoned. this led the federal government contended in left behind regeneration further risking human lives. when i was a child we swam in the lake. little did they know the there were contaminants disposed of in the lake that contained transformers petroleum products. we were just kids but we didn't know. we just wanted to have fun in the water. we didn't know the government had contaminated it. 1963 we had a 100 year storm damaging the department of navy 2.5 million-gallon fuel -- that
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went all over what is now the naval arctic research facility preferred the more there was heavy equipment that was pushed. hubert thompson morgenthau more nearly killed when their boats at those objects and likely today mr. hoffman is still with us and this is just an example of something that we live with. another example of the department of the abandonment of the alaska north slope. on occasion hunters will come across explosive devices left eye the military which are likely decades-old and poses a dangerous threat to human life. my colleagues and friends in alaska cumbersome problems have
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prevented the 12-mile access road from being built that would allow local residents to the only lifesaving hospital within 30 miles and yet people died because they can't get their. people die. residents only axis are either by air transport or -- permafrost is revealing solid waste burial sites that were previously unknown. when i walk across the land to prayer of land management and the alaska department of our marmot to conservation we could smell the diesel, the fuel and we went through the ground and there was debris under the ground. this is the kind of contaminant that we are dealing with that we can't disturb. for according to the alaska department of environmental conservation there's an estimate
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of tracks in my 2400 unknown sites that we don't know of but they only document what are known and reported in documents. as many of you are aware the presence of this on abandoned military land exposes dark energy to severe public health threats where water sources are compromised by surface and subsurface contaminants. case in point the drinking water shortage for united states air force in 1959 and a drinking water source. that is the contaminated -- recently reported. sorry for my emotions. this land was transferred to my people without complete cleanup and removal of contaminants and
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debris and are life-threatening condition. this land were behind fish gather resources butcher our wales which is the most precious activity that we have our cont whales, which is the most precious activity that we have, are contaminated and needs to be cleaned up. the cost to clean up the contamination is astronomical. we cannot put a price on the health of families. not even on one human life that could be i know for a fact that 80% of the families i know, i pe personally know, subsistence on contaminated sites from the national petroleum reserve of alaska legacy wells, and 80% of their family passed away from cancer. this is a fact. this is a very devastating fact. anc's are the largest private land owners in alaska.
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but burdensome regulatory permitting challenges impede our environmentally sound economic development plans. we devised a way to get rid of the contaminants with adc, but environmental permits didn't allow usmi to permanently dispo of them in an approved area. it cost millions of dollars to ship them out of alaska. >> can you wrap up? >> yes. in closing, thank you for being patient with i appreciate the opportunity to speak with each of you today.efi i am hopeful we can together, work together to ensure contaminated lands are cleaned e up to the benefit of all americans without threats to human life. thank you for your patience and understanding. >> great. thank you very much, both of y you, providing first hand t testimony of the challenges. i think we'll go to a
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five-minute round of questions. i'll ask people, myself included, adhere to that so that we can get in as many folks as possible. miss harden, you cite an article and i think it is this one. i wanted to ask. it's called "the real damage while fema is denying disaster to black families that have lived for generations in the deep south." yeah. the article cites that many, many families are being denied aid by fema because essentially, people have inherited propertie through generations. >> uh-huh. >> but they haven't -- they don't have paperwork to show that it was inherited. >> uh-huh. >> i was downe in puerto rico after the hurricane katrina and this was a terrible problem there. we pushed very hard to have it remedied and fema worked out a fix allowing people to self-certify after enormous
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pressure. this article says fema has been unwilling to extend the same fix to the deep south. and i think that's part of your testimony, that this results in deeply discriminatory impact on communities of color. is it your sense that this is something we have to make sure fema addresses? >> yes. t we definitely do. just the fact that we've already dealt with the floods, the flood has gone down and we're trying to get back to some normalcy of life. we are a strong community and ws support each other fully but we in ourselves don't have the funds to help each individual family get back on their feet. and fema denying them this because of some paperwork? it makes it even more devastating. we need this help.
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and it seems that it has continued to be overlooked. >> we're having the same problem in oregon right now for families that were routinely denied help after the devastating labor daym >> right. >> families that don't have the same documentation that wealthier families might have. >> right. >> so thank you for y pointing that out. and, mr. rexford, in your testimony, you note that the 2016 report included three recommended steps.s the first of which is just getting a comprehensive inventory of these, i think, 650 sites, son that a plan can be developed. has that inventory been completed yet?mp >> not to my knowledge. again, it's been subject to pending availability according to the federal government. >> so are any of the sites -- have any of the sites been
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cleaned up? >> some of the sites have been cleaned up. but there are still remnants of contaminants and pollution in many cases called persistent organic pollutions. >> thank you. and i know dealing with contaminated brown field sites in my home state can be very, very difficult i to get those cleaned up. part of reason i'm holding this hearing is to give voice to o these types of challenges, so thank you for sharing your story today. i want to turn to professor r pulido.. professor, i think we still have you, hopefully, online. >> yes. >> can you address why certain groups are more impacted by pollution and are more vulnerablepe to climate change? >> well, there are different reasons, depending about which group we're talking about and what the specific problems are. and i know there is an effort to
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talk about disenfranchisement or they're not at the table. the reasons and purposes go far deeper than this as some of the other witnesses testified. there is deep processes of colonization which are very different, for example, why a farm worker experiences pesticide exposure and illnesses and death even, like in california, or in the cases of around cancer alley, the areas around the mississippi river, louisiana, where there are very high levels of oil refinery. those are a different set of reasons.ul and what we have to do is i think always be looking p at the historical processes of what created these problems. we do see the consistency of both different forms of racism as well as exclusion that is happening. that are causing the problems. so we can look at the broad ea terms but there are specific ones for each group that we're talking about in terms the environmental problem, as well as in terms of the various th
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population that we're talking g about including for example, the poor white populations as well. >> thank you very much. since we're going to stick to the five minutes. senator wicker.ti >> that means i have to stick to the five minutes.. i want to thank our witnesses. professor pulido helps make my point.pu she agrees with me, we ought to call this environmental injustice.k thank you for that. and also in your -- in her testimony, she says in places like mississippi, louisiana, and south carolina, it is the re poorest who are the most impacted by hurricanes and flooding. so i appreciate the professor agreeing with me in that regard. for miss coleman flowers, it occurs to me, and i think you will agree, mrs. harden, that sharky county where you live
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sounds an awful lot like lowndes county, alabama, which was described in her testimony. >> yes, sir. >> she mentions fish kills, floods, pollution. that's exactly what we're experiencing and more in sharky county, mississippi. is that correct? >> yes, it is. and i would just note, mr. chairman, and my fellow senators, that the population loss during the time that this mississippi river and tributaries program has been promised has been astounding. in 1940 the population of sharky county was 15,000, mr. chairman. in 2018, the latest figures i have, just under 4,400 people. the entire population of sharky countys it's gone from 15,000
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plus to 4,400 plus since 1940. the very time when the residente of the south delta have been crying out to complete this. now, miss harden, let's make sure we understand. this was a three-part promise. >> correct. >> levees. >> correct. >> the gate at steel bayou and what else? >> the pumps. >> the pumps. so the federal government in its wisdom was able to complete twog parts of this, leaving the pumps undone.ll there will still be flooding after we have the pumps. >> uh-huh. >> it's just that we'll know where b the flooding will stop. >> yes. >> and there will be the certainty. can you elaboratet on that, ms. harden? >> just a sense of knowing for us. and we do know if those pumps are in the floods would not be as high. our farmers could be in the fields l working which means
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they're able to employ some of the lower income people. if the farmers can't plant, then they can't hire. so it becomes hectic on some other employees, some other businesses, to try to make sure that these people working for us, their husbands are working on these farms. we're trying to ensure that if they don't have a job, how do we get more income into their home so that they can still live sufficiently until the flood is gone again? >> thank youkl for that. and i appreciate senator merkley mentioning the problem we have . with title to property. i think large families without a will, the laws of distribution, s sometimes back when i was trying to eek out a living as a small
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town lawyer, it was very difficult to find all the heirs. so i appreciate senator merkley's efforts with th self-certification with fema. it is fair to say though, miss harden, once we get this third leg of the project done, there will be less need for fema to he come in because the flooding will be in an area where people will know in advance that you shouldn't build there. you shouldn't plant wthere. if you do, you're assuming the risk. >> because you know. and we have dealt with this all these years and people say, w well, move. this is our home. it has been our home for many years. we can't just up and move. and then a lot of the lower income, how are they going to move? >> aright. >>ai they're stuck. >> that has been their property for generations. t t >> exactly. >> let me ask you briefly. the chair will wield that gavell will this project benefit or harm wildlife? would it benefit or harm aquatic species?
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>> it's going to benefit the wildlife. we saw so much devastation in 2019 where you would travel somewhere, down the roads, and you would see all the dead animals on the side of the road. the deer, the turkeys, everything. some turkeys were extinct. you know, and it should not be. people saying that this will harm wildlife.o well, all they had to do was come to rolling fork, come to t the delta and look and see how this flooding harmed our wildlife.. h >> thank you, ma'am. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator carper. >> thank you both. good to see you. thanksks for joining us today. tell me where you're from. both of you. >> i'm from rolling fork, mississippi.i. >> i would have guessed boston. but okay. and how about you, sir? >> pardon me? >> where are you from?
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>> barrow, alaska. top of the world. as far north as you can go in the united states. >> who would you say is your favorite senator? >> pardon? >> who is your favorite u.s. senator from alaska? got a couple of good ones. cne got a couple of good ones. let me say to our chair and ranking member, thanks for convening this hearing today. we thank both of you for joining us. we have a couple of other witnesses apparently that are going to come as well. today, i believe is the first se senate environmental public works committee hearing in almost 15 years on this subject of environmental justice. first one. and the first since the subcommittee has been renamed to include the words "environmental justice." as we all know this topic and need for government to address it is far from new. for decades minority communitiel and low-income americans have shoulder erred much of the burden frompa pollution and othr environmental problems that impact our nation.
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it's often hard to illustrate thee enormity of a problem like this, but there's one statistic that stands outr in my mind and that's a report last year that n found that 70% of the nation's most environmentally contaminated sites located within just one mile of a federally assisted housing. think about that. 70% of our nation's most contaminated sites are all located within one mile of federally assisted housing. that's just one drop in the bucket. one funding of a myriad that all paint the same picture, crystal clear. we're long overdue for a reckoning here. when we say environmental justice, it is not a buzz word. or talking point. environmental justice means that we have a moralic obligation to put justice and fairness at the forefront of all the work we do. when i talk about environmental justice, i say another way of saying golden rule. treat other people the way we want to be treated. this has to be a top priority
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for all people, democrats and republicans and independence. that is certainly the case as i approach the work this committee for which i'm privileged to share and through environmentali justice caucus which i co-founded with our colleagues, senator duckworth and senator booker. so i am pleased that our committee is leading by example. inis april our committee led senate 8 passage of the bipartisan drinking water. by a margin of 89-2. we don't't do many things aroun here by 89-2. it was a huge vote. our legislation makes overdue investments in our water infrastructure so our most vulnerable communities we have access to reliable clean water and the means to pay for it. one part of our bill is o fepe especially proud of 40% of the funds and legislation are designated to go to underserved rural and tribal communities, including communities in alaskau this funding will be crucial in helping disadvantaged d communities make necessary upgrands and to ensure families' access to clean water and a healthier, brighter
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future for r their kids. witht measures like this we can start to do right by our neighbors and help those most in need. whether they're neighbors around the street, the block, across town and other communities and counties. those are our neighbors, too. through the american residue plan we needo to set aside $50 million for environmental justice grants and we set aside from justice grants at the epa and for air monitoring. now as this body is in the final sprint working expansive slt legislation to invest in our nation's infrastructure and economy, we must keep our focus on this core principle of fairness to fulfill the moral obligation to lift those in greatest and pursue justice in all we do. this is especially true when it comes to providing an a nurturing environment critical to livelihoods and prospects for generation toss come. we must make sure that we're working to create a better future for all of our neighborsr
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whether they live, again, in our community or some other community or across the town. that's why i'm pleased we have this hearing and discussion that explores this important issue. we thank you for coming today. now. a long wind up for a short question. p in your testimonyny you mention that you wrote a book about how rural communities have been denied access to sustainable and resilient infrastructure. with natural disasters and extreme weathered events on the rise, investing in communities that suffer from historic disinvestment would become even more important. here's the ee' how can the federal government help environmental justice communities prepare for climate change and its effect? >> is this for miss flowers?s >> this is for miss flowers. > miss flowers is online ando we'll -- >> thank you. thank you for that question. c i think the way the federal government could help environmental justice communities adjust to climate
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change is too pass the american jobs plan. i think it is a start making sure 40% of those investments ts are going to those communities that areve front-line communiti that are most overburdened and i think we've seen some examples of that today with other witnesses. i support the effort. i was just in a community where people are dealing with raw sewage raining into their homes for overr 20 years. i think this is the first time i've heard since i've been doing this work an efficient to try to address this in all of america, but certainly in rural communities. >> i understand. thank you for that response, ms. flowers. can i just mention a question for the record and qu'll ask our witnesses to record respond for the record. this is for miss p ulido.
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please tell us more about how w threats to water access impact environmental justice communities, especially those ie rural areas, and how does this threat compare to the threats from cumulative pollution that you mentioned in your testimony. that's my question and we'll ask you to respond to the question for the record. again, our thanks to all of you for testifying today andnd holdg this hearing and letting me participate. >> thank you very much. chair carper and now co-chair, the microphone is yours. >> thank you.rk thank ayyou, mr. chairman. thank you all for. being here today. in order to support environmental justice communities i think it is imperative that he rulemaking and permitting processes still allow the communities to have economic opportunities. you've spoken about that.mmunun i've supported bills like the use it act which helps maximize development of carbon capture technology.ol thoser promising technologies ae essential tos reducing emission while protecting jobs. president biden has recognized that reducing power sector emissions requires, quote, leveragingow the carbon
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pollution-free energy potential of power plants retrofitted with carbon capture. so miss flowers i was surprised when i read the recommendations from the white house e environmental justice advisory council which you were the, n either, i think the co-vice chair, i think, and that group stated in their report, quote, that any support forou carbon capture utilizatio and storage would harm disadvantaged communities. so i'm asking you, miss flowers, do you personally agree with that recommendation that the administration should stopog supporting carbon capture and utilization technology? >> well, first of all, i don't speak on behalf of that. i am here as a private citizen but i will give you my personal opinion. >>n. okay. >> my personal opinion is based on my conversations with environmental activists living in communities in california and other places that
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could potentially deal with carbon capture. they're concerned that carbon capture will harm their communities and i think that the position of the other folk that make sure that tha was there, was based on the lived experiences of people who have dealt with carbon capture who believe it would do harm ana part of one of the tenets of environmental justice is toer d no harm. in my personal opinion i would like to see air quality seeve monitoring in cancer alley and whatever needs to happen to make sure that those plants are ts either shut down or not n polluting those communities as they are today. i don't have enough information about carbon capture to be able to make an educated opinion about it, but basically what i am looking for is what ever kinds of technologies that can make sure thatha we all hav access to clean air and clean water.
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>> thank you. i appreciate that. the reason i'm interested in this, obviously, i'm from west virginia. the report that came from the white house environmental justice advisory council is s different than what the actual administration and council of environmental quality is saying, that ccus has a critical role te play in decarbonizing the global economy. so i think that is a juxtaposition of two different positionsi coming from the sam administration. i would like to know from miss harden and mr. rexforward, this is something i've struggled with again being a west virginian. because we have so many people heavily impacted by regulations or by new policies that come forward or by the inability to fix the problems. where my frustration comes from ando i think i hear this from both of you is that do you actually go to the people that live there, who actually, mr. rexford you said it well in your
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statement, nobody is going to care for your environment, your property, your part of the world is so deep in your culture better than you. nobody knows how to care for that better than you. and so is that a frustration fof you that sometimes all these decisions are made and your voice is never heard? >> thank you for the question. we truly believe that at heart, we are by nature, by culture, by how we live off the land. we are the best stewards of the land. >> right. >> we walk the land. we tent, we fish, we hunt, we trap.ll all these things bring a spiritual link to the land. that's our way of life. in terms of the rest of alaska, i truly believe the 130,000 native alaskans share that
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philosophy of life. many o of them are being direct or indirectly impacted by these contaminants andnd pollutants. >> thank you. well, you would believe that west virginians are right there with you. i think a lot of people in the country and mississippians the same. ms. harden, you mentioned people say i just leave. away.o you can't. you don't want to. it's part of who you are. >> you go into your community -- most of the time the community comes to us because our dairy barn is like the center of our town. >> right. >> you know, you get the farmer coming in and telling you how t things are and how hard it's going to be for their life. then you get the farmer's employees coming in and letting you know how hard it's going tot be for their life. it goes on and on from the top to the bottom.opm. i see it all.
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i hear it all. >> right. >> and my job -- my job isn't just too be a business owner. my job is to care for these t people and take care of these a people because they are who takes care of me. >> thank you..y thank you very much. >> thank you very much, senatorv senator duckworth is next joining us online. >> thank you, mr. chairman. miss flowers, thank you for your work as a fierce advocate for environmental justice especially in functional sanitation for communities across the united states. your testimony has very clearly demonstrated the very urgent need to address our failing f infrastructure, especially in sanitation inequality. as chair of the subcommittee on fisheries, wildlife and water i agree and believe that access to clean, safe water is a basic human right.
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it's unacceptable these e very vulnerable communities are impacted by poor water quality and access. look at the town of centerville, illinois to see that oftentimes when these issues occur in neighborhoods of minority or low income communities, it takes far too long for the public to hear eopl about it or people to get for decades we turned a blind eye to the water issues in this country and failed to provide adequate funding for these systems. my drinking water and wastewater infrastructure act would invest over $35 billion federal dollars toiz assist these vulnerable communities in receiving the funding they need to modernize their drinking water and water water infrastructure. this must be a continuing legacy to make a difference. miss flowers, would you agree that access to safe, reliable drinking water and wastewater is an environmental justice issue? >> yes, senator duckworth, it
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is an environmental justice issueil and clearly what we sawn lowndes county where we did apl parasite study where we collected fecal blood and we found evidence of tropical parasites in areas, especially d in areas where people are not dealing with proper sanitation. this is a problem throughout the u.s. w yes, i went to centerville and actually saw it firsthand. i'm happy you're sponsoring this type of fix and it needs to be a continuous effort because the problems aretr worse than we ev know because there's no central database to document sanitation issues across the u.s. >>po thank you. i think that's a very good point. do you think that major federal investment in water infrastructure should be a top environmental justice priority? >> yes, because water is life. none of us can live without water. we have seen what happens when we don't deal with the health consequences of these issues. i especially how it impacts the public because it could very well be that ll
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typhoid and all the other things that comes about as a result of inadequate sanitation could happen covid taught us when it comes to public health that we cannot turn a blind eye to it because we're all impacted by it. >> water is you are so, so right. in illinois we have more lead service lines than any other ryy state in the country. as you know rks there's no known safe blood el f level for lead in our children. therefore, these outdated pipes are a threat to our children's health and this threat is especially higher for minority children. the drinking 8es water and wastewater infrastructure act of 2021 which passed the full senate with 89 votes on the floor with invest federal dollars for the replacement of lead pipes. the president has made it one of his priorities to invest idar dlls of dollars for the national full lead line replacement. do you think the federal government should prioritize billions of federal dollars to i
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remove all lead service lines in this country? >> yes. >> yes. >> thank you. i know o it sounds like a no-brainer to you and me, will you let me o tell you there are others that would argue otherwise. people of color are one and a ir half times more likely to live in anut area with poor air quality. if you're in chicago and you go ten stops on our transit systemp the l, from the heart of chicago, the magnificent mile where you have,av you know, sho sellingg thousand dollar gucci purses and you go just ten stops, the life expectancy drops by 18 years, not from gun violence, but from health issues like asthma, heart attacks, cancer. i've been pushing efforts to veb increase air l monitoring on a hyper local left.
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miss p ulido to address the air infrastructuret inequality would better implementation of mapping and screening tools help the communities that need it most and connect them with wlicy solutions? furthermore what other tools are necessary to ensure the federal infrastructure investment gets to the most vulnerable communities they're intended for? >> thank you, senator, for the question. yes, we have to begin by simply having the right data, right? n we don't have that and it's a problem -- it'sve on multiple levels. oftentimes we have poor quality data. that needs to be really improved., a lot of times community ed scientists and organizations do ground treatment to verify the data. t like is there a pollution source there and things like that. improving the quality of data is really, really important. second of all, we need to
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address the cumulative impacts. this is the individual facility or emitter, which certainly is important, but doesn't capture like what you're saying is happening on those stops that have an 18-year difference in longevity. that's the cumulative environment we're talking aboutm we have very limited ability, although i know illinois is one of the states that's made steps to begin talking about cumulative impacts. we need to see that across the board.d. this becomes really very urgentr particularly in cities, in urban areas. more so than many rural areas, although not entirely, that's nott the case. one of the last things that you said is what t else does the federal government need to be doing? one thing i think that's important is to think about -- i frankly feel on the part of ther federal government as well as many other government agencies there's been a lack of political willo to really go after and
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enforce the existing environmental laws. we're not even talking about a people that aren't outside the scope of the law. we can't even enforce the existing laws. we've had cases in los angeles of major polluters such as exide which their lead emissions were 50 times over the regulatory limit. it took them decades and they would not actually solve the problem. they were forced to finally close down. a after which theye decided to declare bankruptcy, leaving the entire stated of california wit the cleanup bill for acres and acres of lead contamination. there has to be a higher level e of t political will to actually enforce existing laws. >> thank you. i'm over time, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator duckworth. we'll turn to senator sullivan.. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you forun holding this hearing. i think we already have one
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unanimous agreement from here and that's on water, and the issues thaten senator duckworth just mentioned. i'll mention in alaska and mr. rexford knows this. we have 30 communities that don't have any running water. no flushing toilets. nothing. no running water.. they're almost all alaska native communities. these are american citizens. i think it's completely ies . inappropriate. bypa the way, some of the most patriotic americans in theik country, alaska natives, like lowere 48 native americans serv atan higher rates in the milita than any other ethnic group in the country, and yet they don't have water. it's unacceptable.or i think we all t need to work o it. i think there's bipartisan support to do that. mr. weksford, thank you, again, for being here, traveling very far for this meeting. i appreciate you mentioned king cove in your testimony as well. that's very magnanimous of you
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to be a taking about a native community probably 1,000 miles away from your native community. but it makes a point and i think it was a really good point. let me go to your issue of contaminated lands. for my senate colleagues, this is the alaska native claims settlement act, the biggest native settlement act probably in -- certainly american history, maybe world history. 4444 million acres, and yet so much of the land was contaminated. we made some progress here. we got clarified thanks to the work of chairman carper recently that the circla liability will not apply to ancs, finally clarifiedor that. mr. rexford, what other types of assistance do communities such as yours need from the federal government to address this issue 45 years, almost 50 years where there hasn't been clean-up by the federal government which is clearly responsible for cleaning up sp
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these contaminated lands? what more assistance and other type of a assessment ans would you recommend? >> thank you, senator sullivan. i think one word it would be commitment. >> commitment. >> commitment to cleanup. >> dyeah. >> i have a reference docket i have prepared for the committee herere reference two relative issues that have substance on our continued effortsan to work with the navy on cleanup, but the message is we will give it to you as it is where it is and you are liable for cleanup. >> good. >> and we cannot live with that, we can't afford it. >> your testimony does a good job at showing how the feds sometimes are engaged and then they're not engaged. you want consistent commitment to this issue? >> yes, commitment. et >> great. let. me ask another question. i mentioned the resourceve
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development opportunities. senator capito o mentioned somef the regulatory issues. can you tell us how the barrow natural gas field discovery had a very big beneficial impact on your community? can you speak to that as just one example of how resource development has provided opportunities, energy, low cost energy and other things in your community that people just take for granted in the lower 48, but can be very important in alaska? >> senator sullivan and other committee members, as a child growing up one of my tasks was to get firewood from the beachem or from the landfill in order to heat the home and cook, melt water, et cetera. that escalated to a coal bag i had to put on a sled and take home fromth the education servi
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co-op store. that was a process. that escalated to heating oil, namely heating oil number one to put two and a half gallons intoo a stove that is on the back of a heater and you had to be very careful. that was -- those were my tasks in our household. one day i went home and two, three days passed by. b i was about 8, 9 years old. i didn't have to go pick up the field oil to heat the house. i said, mom, are we going to ruo out of fuel? she said no, we have natural gas this is the benefit we have now. we have cost effective natural gas to heat our homes. >> clean burning too, correct? >> yes. it took years for that -- for the native village of barrow and the city of barrow council to
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advocate for it from the federal government, but they did. it took a long time. it has been resourceful to us. m i would like to make a >> yes, please. >> if you go into the villages, you're going to pay up to $2.50 a gallon or $3.50 a gallon to heat a home for three or four days. this is reality in the villages. in the outlying villages we are fortunate that through negotiations and through advocacy in the 1960s we were able to get natural gas hook-up to the community. that made a world of difference. then we could melt water. we could have showers and we were fortunate enough.e still many today don't have that luxury.oo we call it a luxury. because it's taken for granted. >> luxury, but people in the lower 48 don't view it as a luxury.lo you do?
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>> let me put it in this analogy. when i woke up in the morning the water basin would be frozens that's my analogy of water service that needs to be corrected. for those communities you mentioned earlier, that simple life saving water source that is healthy and sanitary. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator sullivan.. senator kelly? >> thank you, mr. chairman.nt i want -- mr. rexford, i want tn follow up on senator sullivan's first question about clean-up, specifically regarding super fund clean-up. i appreciate the focus on your testimony in the ways that tr tribes are often left behind in the super a fund cleanup proces. like alaska, native corporations, many tribes in arizona have struggled for decades to compete for funding in the super fund process. for example, there are more than
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500 abandoned uranium mines on the navajo nation. despite years of work on the part of tribal leaders and de repeated commitments from federaly leaders to work to clen up these sites, only four sites, only four out of 500 are currently undergoing remediation in large part because for many sites it's been impossible to locate a responsible party with the ability to pay. mr. rexford, can you expand upon your testimony for why the existing process used by epa for prioritizing super fund clean-up sites may put tribes at a disadvantage? >> in terms of the super fund or funding programs for contaminated and polluted clean-up, either we have to work directly with the native village of baro or the community of the
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arctic slope to receive those funds, or we can do a partnership with the border wide government. the reason we're not getting ioi what we need is priorities set by epa, priorities set by regulation don't get to our villages. now, when an accident occurs, that seems to be the time that we get a drop in the bucket.t like the valley of barrow and then they rt provide funding. they were able to clean up in ai period of four years, in four summer seasons. when we applied for funds, we didn't qualify because we weren't a tribe. the duals line sites that are infested with asbestos, pcbs are still onlm the ground.
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when epa and adec called on me to l identify the site location at camp lonely, we had to show them on a map where those locations were. l i worked a lot of those sites in my lifetime with a labor union, with the teamsters. we need our share of money to clean those up. now, residuals. in the villages you can see sheen -- i'll use point hope as an example. at the mayor's office i was taking the lead on t radioactive isotopes that were left behind by the atomic energy commission of the united states in the '60s. they left isotopes in the ice, in the body of water that local people use for water. it had the highest cancer rates in the nation at the time. the community couldn't ta understand why everyone was getting sick when they were not being exposed to anything they t
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knew of. physically. yet, this drinking water source had radio isotopes that the t atomic energy commission left buried and said, leave it alone. the creek was a water source for the we have had to bury many, many of our relatives in point hope over the years because of that d very fact. that has been noted in reports to the atomic energy commission and the federal government. that's just one example. now the national petroleum reserve of alaska site families there and 80% of that family directly died of cancer. cancer. people of promise. people that were very productive in how we support the community through whaling, through
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subsistence. eight of their family members of twelve died from cancer. eight. this is devastating. these are facts that we live with. we need the money. we would like to be able to clean up the lake that was a water source for the community for decades. the air force used it as a water source. the department of navy used it as a water source. however, the contaminants from the 1963 100-year flood devastated that water source. so we're putting up signs do not drink water from this lake. after centuries of access to these water sources, we are telling our own people do not drink this water source. how do you get the money to the impacted community, to the
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impacted agency that is responsible for that? they want us to sign a document that says we're going to receivi it and we foot the bill of millions of dollars of clean-up. we can't do that. we would deprive our next generation of share holders ld opportunities for education, opportunities for health care un and benefits for travel when they need it in emergencies. this is how we put back the economic profit that we have so that we can continue to support them, especially for those who are needy.pp my colleague and my pier to my right has very eloquently described the very things that we are faced with in the rural community. we share the same concerns. we have the same problems. how do you get federal government to say, okay, this io a priority, we've got 3,500 people that are being affected? we've got 8 of 12 people in the
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family that have died. how do you balance that in the name of clean-up with the loss of a life? i'm passionate about this y because they are my people, my community and i represent them, but i live with them. i grew up with the and i've seen them go. thank you for your question. i hope i didn't miss your question. . >> no, you didn't. you know, it's apparent there d needs to be, you know, more direct funding where you do not have to apply to, you know, multiple agencies, that the funds need to get to the communities to do this cleanup. i appreciate your examples. i mean, they're compelling. we have similar examples all over arizona where this clean-up needs to -- we've got to do better.
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i mean, four abandoned uranium mines? four out of 500, unacceptable. thank you, mr. rexford. ey >> senator markey. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you for having this very important hearing. environmental justice populations have been burdened over and over again by pollution, disinvestment and designed neglect. not benign neglect, designed neglect. as discussed by professor pulido it is critically important to individual just sources of pollution but the cumulative impacts of each alongside socioeconomic conditions. in drafting the environmental justice mapping and data collection act, senator duckworth and i worked closely with environmental justice advocates toig create a framewo for a federal method to map these cumulative r impacts and ensure that
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communities that are most at risk for environmental injustices are prioritized as we address the climate crisis. professor pulido and miss flowers would you agree it's important to consult with communities in creating these of maps and addressing any gaps in data that would make it harder u to understand and tackle environmental justice issues? >> thank you, senator, for that question. i i think, yes, we have to const those communities. just to give you a quick example, inot a lot of the rura communities if you don't go down those dirt roads and people are there, they will not be counted. it's important that the people that are impacted are part of n the data collection. that's why we have so many gaps. >> thank you. miss flowers? >> i would agree with that.
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i think it's really essential. one of the things that we've seen -- i haven't seen the federal model or what you're hoping to -- what it will look like, but i know in cases like thehe ej screen which has been e prototype which t has been developed, when they go and involve local community members they can poine out sensitive land uses that would impact how we understand cumulative impact. so, for example, is there a child carehe center there? is there an elder care facility there or schools? all have big differences. it's very essential for this to happen. >> thank you. to both of you, again, would dedicated funding for community engagement cumulative impact mapping and data collecting shun make it easier to provide contributions to these efforts? >> >> yes. i agree. >> excellent. professor pulido highlighted in
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herta testimony extreme heat isn environmental justice issue, even within the same city due in part to historic red-lining and differences inds tree cover. some neighborhoods often lower income communities or communities of color can be up to 20 degrees fahrenheit warmer. despite the fact that most heat-related deaths and ill ntss are preventable it kills more americans than any other weather event. as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. that's why i will soon be reintroducing my preventing heat illness andst deaths act to strengthen interagency effortst to address extreme heat and provide r financial assistance for projects that reduce the health impacts of extreme heat events such as urban tree planting, cool rooms and streets and cooling centers. climate change is only going to
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worsen the extreme heat crisis. we knee prevention now. professor pulido orio miss flowers, would you agree that additional investment in extreme heat prevention could help address historic inequities and protect public health? >> absolutely. it is urgently needed. people are dying. >> again, senator, i concur that this is definitely needed, yes. >> thank you both for that. finally, in the grips of a respiratory pandemic, healthy air shouldn't even be determinei by zip code, but even within a single neighborhood air quality can vary up to 800%.o we can't manage what we don't measure. federal funding levels for air quality support have remained unchanged for nearly two decades which is unbelievable.
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that's why i'm working on legislation that provides grant and contract funding for hyper f local air quality monitoring ina environmental justice communities. professor pulido and miss flowers, would you agree that it is important for a us to be abl to identify, communicate about and finally work to resolve air pollution hot spots all across our country? >> yes, i would agree. absolutely. >> yes, i also agree. and i think that the people in cancer alley would welcome that. >> again, cancer alley is just one example that has proliferated across our entire country. it's just time for uss to have environmental justicewh at the core of any piece of legislation which we pass this year because if you don't map it, it's
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impossible, then, to rectify the historichi injustices. thank you for your work historically and thanks to both of our panelists as well and thank you, mr. chairman, for conducting this hearing. >> thank you, senator, markey. we'll have the second round in which each senator is allowed one question. if you would like to stay and you have something else -- i know senator sullivan has a question and senator wicker might return for an additional question. so my additional question goes to you, ms. flowers. you refer in your testimony to cancer alley along the mississippi river. where residents combat high cancer rates due to pollution. what is the source of that pollution that is affecting g residents in cancer alley? >> thank you for that question, senator. i had the opportunity to visit cancer alley and was taken on a
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tour through the communities and meeting with community people led by retired general russe honore. i was shocked by what i saw. it's almost like a disneyland of pret troe chemical plants sitting alongh the mississippi river and even though i was only there fos several hours, i myself had respiratory issues once i left there. it took me -- i had to go to bed for about a week trying to figure out what was going on with me. it's just -- to me it made me feel that it's really even harder for people who have to live there. these plants are located next ts homes, they're located next to -- they're located next to schools. the people have been crying out for the longest about getting g air quality monitors there so that they can monitor what's there and be able to show the correlation between what is heth being emitted in the area and
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the illnesses they're dealing with. w so that is so needed and cancer alley is just one example, as was stated earlier. but clearly we have to use that maybe as an example how to get local people involved and be able to monitor and track what is happening there. >> thank you very much for sharing that. i will just note thatal one of e side effects of natural gas is climate change that is driving the tremendous fires out in oregon, but another side effect is natural gas as a feedstock for the petrn chemical industry a making plastics andnd results in very high cancer rates for those who are located nearby. >> senator sullivan. ma >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'll raise an issue i've raised a number of times in this committee. the biden administration's stated focus -- can you bring that over here a little more -- on racial equity and
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environmental justice in my view has not fully considered the welfare of alaska natives, which are certainly ourur biggest minority group in alaska who have seen great advances in life expectancy -- life expectancy because of the opportunities and health benefits of resource development. this is a chart that shows -- that's from an american medical association study on changes in life expectancy in america from 1980 to 2014.2, the dark blue and purple are the biggest increases, up to 13 years. the yellow and red are unfortunately for our country decreases. that's a lot of where the opoid epidemic has hit communities very hard. alaska had the highest life expect ensy increases of any
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place in the country, by far, and the reason is twofold. one is unfortunately the alaska native people had a very low life. expectancy to begin with.o but resource development started happening on the north slope, the northwest arctic borough, the allusion island chain and i'm worried as this administration starts to focus on shutting down the opportunities in our rural communities that these incredible advances, 13-year life expectancy increases -- i don't think there's anything more important than that in terms of an indicator of policy success than are the people you represent living longer. in alaska they're living longer because of these opportunities. i'm worried we'll go backwards in this important area if this s administration focuses on i shutting down resource development opportunities in oue state, particularly the rural areas. mr. rexford, you have a lot of
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experience with this general issue, seeing life expectancies increase. economic opportunity that comes withth resource development. would you like to comment on this??he do you have concerns if these opportunities are shut down op we're going to be going backwards? >> thank you, senator sullivan, committee members.or stt in my entire lifetime my father was with the teamsters union and worked resource development. going to remote sites for six months out of the year and come home through arctic constructers andd usgs seeking oil and gas exploration so that we can have resourcesg to develop. and p then he was there during e discovery of the pipeline in dead horse. i worked the pipeline.ine there was a benefit with economic jobs and also the stat
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of alaska enjoyed the royalties that allowed us to get in some cases basic services. water, waste water treatment and yet today there are struggles. the benefits that i have directly seen since 1974 in my o short lifetime after graduatinga from high school in 1973 is our ability to tax oil and gas properties. we don't have royalties. don't get me wrong. we don't have royalty, but we had to file a lawsuit so that we could generate revenue to ev build roads, to build health clinics, to build fire stations, to build airports, high schools and junior high facilities. every program and service, behavioral health that comes th with infrastructure needs. that is basically just from the
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tax of approximately 2.5%. 1.8 to 2.5% annually. that helps support and provide economic c2.5%, 1.8 to 2.5% annually. 1.8 to 2.5% annually. that provides jobs, safe water, health clinics so we can get better health care and detect illnesses before it went too bad. now, when we talk about the he eight villages, barrow being the hub, they're still struggling because the infrastructure is so old. we continue to upgrade them to continue the level of services. these are the benefits that we have received. the subsidy of heating oil to il the villages is very crucial, especially in the economically depressed zone in several of the villages that have no economy,
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but there's the native villages, the tribes and the city that provide minimal jobs. they have to go outside the e community to support their families, to provide for their families.he otherwise, it is welfare. we are not a welfare-driven community. we like to be industrial. we like o to be productive and give back with our own, with our dignity, with. our self-respect in the name of a job and employment and that is what we seek. >> very powerful, and the best government program is a good job. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. senator markey. >> thank you, mr. chairman. do any of the witnesses, and president biden's plan for job creation is to have 40% of the programs of the revenues go towards communities that are
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environmental justice communities. what in your opinion is the best way to ensure that 40% of all of the funding goes into those communities? what would you like to see in place in order to accomplish thatn goal? >> perhaps, ms. harden, you're ready to speak to that. >> the money is great and it's needed. but what we need to see in the delta is the pumps. because without those n pumps - >> i am sorry, the what? >> there pumps. the backwater pumps. we need those pumps put in. without those pumps, we are not able to have many job opportunities, because the people m are moving and business are closing. we need to keep the people there. with us getting the back water pumps, that money would be
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greatly needed. we need the pumps. >> thank you. very helpful. mr. rexford. >> i am sorry, mr. markey, my ears are ringing. would you repeat the question so i can understand it. >> president biden intends on 40% of all the funding in his job creation act to go to environmental justice communities.di what's the best way to ensure the money gets to those communities?s >> in order to have direct access to those communities we need to have an entity that will receive them, administer and implement the programs intended for. now, if there are provisions in the funding, how is it going tow filter down and put back into t the community and sustain it?is that's the question.n can we sustain after the funding
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is available to sustain the program to future generations? with all due respect, you know, the sunshine state of florida has a lot of sun.on six months out of the year we nearly have none. polar energy -- solar energy is limited. then so what type of program would generate -- what kind of infrastructure would generate sustainability? that would be a goal that we hi could set. this will definitely be sustainable for future generations and yet reduce the ability to maintain and operate it to a minimum that it sustains itself. i do hope i answered your question. >> thank you, mr. rexford. if you could, because my time is about to expire. ow ms. pulido or professor flowers,
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do you have any quick insights you wouldho like to give to the community as to how to make sure the t funding goes to the environmental justice communities? >> first of all, we should have a score card to make sure it does in fact go to the re communities. guardrails should be put in place to make sure the business opportunities that are created will be created for people that live in those communities as well. >> great. miss flowers? >> one of the things i would sar is by working directly with h already existing community organizations, groups doing environmental justice work that would be really good -- conduit, and oftentimes, they are already doing weather projects and things>> like that >> thank you. thank you all for your contributions. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much, senator io markey. to my colleagues for their variety of questions exploring this justice of economic justice and economic injustice.
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there was a gathering back in 1991 and this gathering was a significant landmark in the national discussion about environmental justice. s there was a four-day summit attended by over 1,000 individuals from all 50 states. it was sponsored by the commission for racial justice and the united church of christ. out of that came a set of four principles for environmental justice that have continued to o reverberate through the last three decades. one is that public policy must l be based on mutual respect and justice for all people. second, the environmental justice communities have the right to participate as equal partners in decision making
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including needs assessment, enforcement and evaluation. that is the seat at the table. the third is the use of land and renewable resources must be ethical, balance and responsible interest of a sustainable planet for both humans and other living things. fourth, it's important to consider the cumulative impact of every source of pollution in a community rather than looking at each source in isolation. i wanted to close with those thoughts ass i'm sure we will b continuing the conversation about environmental justice, because it is soo important to make, sure that we do. and so now some thank you to professor fopulido and ms. colen flowers and mr. rexford for your contributionshr based on the experiences and knowledge that you have accumulated through a lifetime. i'd like to ask the unanimous
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consent for the submission of thee articles and reports relatd to the hearings today. hearing no objection, thank you. additional senators will be allowed to submit questions through the close of business on august 5th.lod we'll compile questions and send them to the witnesses and ask the witnesses to reply by august 19th. if we have questions for you all, we'll get those to you and we would appreciate you sending us answers back that we'll make part of the record.d.d. with that, the hearing is adjourned.
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