Last week, AAH staff participated in a three-day Environmental Justice (EJ) workshop in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was the fourth of its kind, with the three previous workshops being in Albuquerque, New Orleans, and Houston. The workshops are the result of EPA Region 6 Administer Ron Curry’s commitment to sponsoring and hosting EJ trainings in each of the five states that make up Region 6. Curry stated that his goal in having these events was to better understand today’s environmental justice challenges, identify the best practices that lead to healthier communities, and to develop an action plan that addresses region-wide priorities.
In my opinion, the impact of these workshops cannot be overstated. They provide EJ activists and EJ community members with the opportunity to engage EPA officials in person (which is invaluable). Through each workshop, the EJ community has gained great insight into the EPA’s inner processes, requirements, and limitations. In addition, grassroots organizations and EJ community leaders from all over the region are able to share insights, resources, and collaborate on a greater scale and scope. This adds substantial leverage to the Region 6 EPA office when addressing region-wide priorities. I sincerely hope that these EJ trainings continue for years to come and that the other EPA Regional offices have them as well.