EPA and National Urban League Join Forces To Protect Children
from Environmental Health Risks
EPA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Urban League to work together on protecting children in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities from environmental health risks. .Children in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities may be disproportionately affected by environmental hazards. For example, children of lower-income families are more likely to have asthma attacks and elevated blood lead levels.
In the last three decades, asthma --- a diagnosed disease --- has nearly doubled in the United States. It has become the No. 1 chronic disease of children. It is the primary reason that kids across the country are hospitalized and one of the top reasons they miss school and curtail physical activity. Each October, EPA commemorates Children's Health Month, which is designed to increase public awareness and provide tools that the general public, health care providers, environmental professionals and businesses can use to help protect children from environmental health risks.
This agreement will facilitate better communication between EPA and the National Urban League, resulting in more collaborative protection of the environment and greater awareness of health issues that impact children. The agreement is designed to:
Strengthen the collaborative efforts of EPA and the National Urban League in safeguarding the nation's resources and protecting human health, particularly children's health;
Increase the Urban League's access to information about EPA's programs and services;
Explore opportunities for partnerships between Urban League and EPA in addressing environmental challenges; and
Promote the continued improvement of communication and outreach efforts between the Urban League, its affiliates and EPA.
Founded in 1910, the National Urban League is the nation's oldest andlargest community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream.
Environmental Justice Claims Rejected For New Nuke In Mississippi
August 2004 -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Atomic Safety Licensing Board (ASLB) denied a request by the Sierra Club, Public Citizen, Nuclear Information & Resource Service and the Claiborne County NAACP to participate in a licensing hearing on Entergys application to site a new nuclear reactor in Mississippi under the agencys new streamlined licensing proceedings. The Early Site Permit (ESP) allows companies to:
- bank the site for 20 years,
- choose a reactor type and
- apply for a combined construction and operating license.
The licensing board denied all of the groups contentions about an Entergy Nuclear application for a permit to site a new nuclear reactor near its existing Grand Gulf Unit 1 reactor in Port Gibson, Mississippi. The site of the current and proposed reactor is located in Claiborne County, which is 84% African American with 32% of the residents living at or below the poverty line.
The petitioners' claims rejected by the ASLB include:
- a 1985 change in the Mississippi State Tax Code that adversely impacted Claiborne County and disproportionately affected the African American population because it redistributed the countys original property tax revenue from the Grand Gulf nuclear power station to 44 other counties in the state.
- the applications lack of analysis of the safety implications of locating a new reactor design next to an older and earlier model reactor,
- the need for below grade construction of new reactors in the Post-September 11th world,
- severe accident impacts,
- inadequate emergency planning, and
- lack of a demonstrated national long-term management plan for new nuclear waste generated by any new reactors.
Black Farmers Complained Under Clinton And Again Under Bush
Accuse Department of Agriculture of Racial Bias
July 2004 -- Black farmers are accusing the Department of Agriculture (USDA) of denying restitution to roughly 90% of farmers seeking compensation and spending millions to deny their claims. The Environmental Working Group and the National Black Farmers Association.conducted a two-year investigation and issued a report on the status of a 1999 class-action settlement intended to redress the Agriculture Department's systematically denying black farmers loans and other assistance available under federal programs.
Major findings of the report:
- Of the 94,000 farmers who sought relief as a result of the settlement, the report said, 81,000 were denied restitution. More than three-quarters of the denied claims were rejected because of a court-acknowledged mistake in which the plaintiffs' lawyers misinformed them of the deadline for filing. The others were turned aside on the ground of insufficient documentation.
- Participants in the class action, which dealt with racial bias against black farmers from 1981 to 1996, were permitted to seek redress in either of two ways:
- A "fast track'' payment of $50,000 for those with minimal documentation who could show that they had not been given treatment equal to that of white farmers.
- Those with greater documentation were allowed claims for actual damages.
- By far the greater number of claimants applied for the fast track. But even among the 22,000 of these farmers granted access to the class by arbitrators, roughly 40 percent were turned down. The settlement called for the government to pay as much as $2.3 billion. The actual amount paid so far is $657 million, to 13,151 claimants.
- Documentation on the settlement process from lawyers and monitors associated with the case as well as from the Justice Department shows that the Agriculture Department spent $12 million contesting individual claims. It is also alleged that USDA regularly denied farmers access to information that would have helped them prove their cases.
- The number of black-run farms has dropped to roughly 29,000 from more than 54,000, in part because of lack of access to federal farm loans.
John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association wants Congress to:
- Order USDA to pay 9,000 farmers who were accepted to the class but were denied the $50,000 fast-track payment, and
- To have USDA consider the claims of those affected by the filing-deadline error. Mr. Boyd pursued damages via the second track and received $500,000.
Press Release SEPTEMBER 8, 2004
BLACK FARMERS FILE NEW MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR BIAS CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGIANST THE USDA
WASH. D,C, - The Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, Inc. (BFAA, INC.) and fifteen individual black farmers, acting as class representatives for nearly 70,000 affected black farmers, from around the country will file a new class action lawsuit against the USDA and its top officials, said Tom Burrell, president of the 10,000 member black farmer rights organization. BFAA, Inc., a Delaware Corporation, has its national office in Memphis TN. and has state chapters in sixteen, primarily Southern states.
BFAA, Inc.s lawyers are civil rights litigator James W. Myart, Jr, BFAA General Counsel and lead attorney for the new lawsuit, Kent Krause and Paula Walsh all from Texas. Myart is licensed to practice law in the United District Court for the District of Columbia, D.C., among other federal judicial districts around the country. Tom Burrell said, We are presently putting in place a stellar and expanded class action litigation committee, a legal dream team if you will, made up of our lawyers from Texas and renown civil rights lawyers in D.C. and from throughout the United States.
BFAA, INC. and Individual Black Farmers are primary plaintiffs and class representatives of nearly 70,000 Black Farmers Class Action Lawsuit names Secretary Ann Veneman, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Vernon Parker, black, and other top USDA officials in their personal and official capacities. Officials sued in their individual capacities because illegal conduct was so egregious and done with callous disregard for the rights of the black farmers
- USDA officials discriminated against Black Farmers in denying and delaying loans and credit to them while giving white farmers preference in USDA program loans and credit to operate their farms
- Officials intentional actions violate the US Constitution Equal Protection and Due Process of Law clauses of the 14th Amendment, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, as amended, and the federal statute prohibiting Conspiracy to Interfere with Civil Rights
- Lawsuit seeks $20 billion in damages against the USDA for emotional and financial injuries to and millions of acres of land lost by all Black Farmers since January 1, 1997.
- Lawsuit seeks a complete overhaul of the USDA loan and credit program through injunctive relief and order by the United States District Court of the District of Columbia.
Former EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch Dies
July 18, 2004 -- Anne Gorsuch Burford, who served two years as Ronald Reagan's first Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, died at the age of 62. In the early 1980's she suffered the outrage of environmentalists as she cut the EPA budget, slashed EPA enforcement actions against polluters and slowed payment for Superfund cleanups. Burford ended up putting her career on the line for Reagan when the White House forced her to take the lead in a battle with Congress over executive privilege. When she lost the resulting court fight to keep Superfund documents secret, she was cited for contempt of Congress by the House of Representatives and was forced to resign. Reagan's second EPA administrator, William Ruckelshaus, restored much of the staff and funding she cut.
She was born in Casper, Colorado on April 21, 1942. She graduated from the University of Colorado Law School at the age of 21. She was first married to attorney David Gorsuch and later to Bob Burford, After leaving Washington, she returned to Denver and a private law practice, concentrating on children's advocacy.