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tv   Experts Testify on Environmental Justice  CSPAN  July 29, 2021 3:21am-5:18am EDT

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[inaudible conversations]
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[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 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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. 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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. 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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.
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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. 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
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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. 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
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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. 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
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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. 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
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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 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.
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[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 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.
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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 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.
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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. 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
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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 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
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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. 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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,
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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. 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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. 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
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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. 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
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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 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
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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. 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.
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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 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.
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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 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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 contaminated and need to be cleaned up. the cost to cleanup the contamination is astronomical but the impact on when human life i know for a fact that 80%
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of the family i know, i personally know subsist on contaminated sites from the national petroleum reserve of alaska and 80% of their families have passed away from cancer. this is a fact. this is a very devastating facts. the largest private landowners in alaska and challenges impede our environmentally sound economic development plans. we need to find a way to get rid of contaminants to allow us to primly disposed of -- it cost millions of dollars to ship them out of alaska. c mr. rexford kenny wrap up ear? the in closing thank you for being patient with me. i appreciate the opportunity to speak of with each of you today and i'm hopeful we can together
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work to ensure contaminated lands are cleaned up to the benefit of all americans without threats to human life or thank you for your patience and understanding. >> thank you very much for both of you providing first-hand testimony of the challenges that i think we will go to five minutes of browsing questions myself included. we can get in as many folks as possible. ms. harden you cited article and i think it's this one but i wanted to ask its called the real damage of the disasters of the black families who have lived in the deep south. the article cites many families are denied aid i fema it is essentially people have
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inherited properties through generations but they don't have paperwork to show that it's inherited. i was imported rico after the hurricane katrina and this was a terrible problem there. we have pushed very hard to have it remedied and fema worked out a fix allowing people to self-certify under enormous pressure and fame has been willing 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 we definitely do. just the fact that we have already dealt with the floods. the flood has wound down we are trying to get back to some normalcy of life.
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we are a strong community and we support each other fully but we ourselves don't have the funds to help these individual families get back on their feet. and fema denying them this because of an alert, it makes it even more devastating. we need this help and it seems he continues to be overlooked. >> we are having the same problem in oregon right now for families that were routinely denied help after the devastating labor day fires of last year, families that don't have the same documentation that wealthier families might so thank you for pointing that out. mr. rexford in your testimony you note that the 2016 report included three recommended steps the first of which is just getting a comprehensive
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inventory of these i think 650 sites so that a plant can be developed. has that inventory been completed yet? >> not to my knowledge. it has been subject to funding availability according to the federal government. >> have any of the sites been cleaned up? >> some of the sites have been cleaned up but there are still remnants of contaminant pollutants in many cases called persistent organic -- >> thank you. i know dealing with contaminated ground sites in my home state can be very difficult to get those cleaned up. part of the reason i'm holding this hearing is to give voice to these types of challenges so thank you for sharing your story today. i want to turn to professor pulido and professor i think we still have you hopefully on line.
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can you address why certain groups are more impacted eye pollution and are more vulnerable to climate change? the >> well there are different reasons depending on which groups we are talking about and what the problems are. i know there's an effort and there is disenfranchisement or they aren't they table but it goes far deeper than this is some of the other witnesses that testified. there are properties of colonization which are different from why a farmworker too testifies in california or the cases around cancer alley and areas around like a nweze yamma where there are high levels of oil refineries. i think we have to always look
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at the historic faculties of what created these problems but we do see a consistency of those different forms of racism as well as exclusion that is happening that are causing problems. the specific ones are each group that we are talking about in terms of amber: the problems as well as the very population we are talking about including for example white populations as well. >> thank you very much and this for sticking to the five minutes. senator richter. >> that means i have to stick to the five minutes. i want to thank their witnesses. ms. pulido makes my point. >> she agrees on the environmental injustice. thank you for that in also in your testimony she says in places like mississippi louisiana and south carolina it is the poorest are the most
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impacted by hurricanes and flooding so i appreciate the professor grading with me in that regard and for ms. coleman flowers it is occurs to me and i think you'll agree mrs. harden that sharkey county where you live sounds an awful lot like lowndes county alabama described in your testimony. and she mentions fish kills pollution and that's exactly what we are experiencing in sharkey county mississippi. is that correct? >> yes it is. >> and i would just note mr. chairman and my fellow senators that the population laws during that time that this mississippi rivers and tributaries program has been
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astounding isn't 1940 the population of sharkey county was 15,000 mr. chairman. in 2018 the latest figures i have just under 4400 people the entire population of sharkey county has gone from 15,000 plus 24400 plus at the very time the residents have been crying out to complete this. ms. harden let's make sure we understand. this was a three-part promise. levy indicated this deal by you and the palm. the federal government in its wisdom was able to complete two parts of this leaving the pumps undone. there will still be flooding after we have the toms. it's just that we will know
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where the flooding will stop and there'll be the certainty. can you elaborate on that? >> just knowing for us and we do know the pumps with not be is high. farmers would be able to still be working which means they are able to employ some of the lower income people. if the farmers can't plant then they can't higher so it becomes hectic like some other businesses to call and make sure that people working for us their husbands are working on these fires. we are trying to insure that if they don't have a job either we get more income into their home so that they can still live
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sufficiently until the flood is gone again the? >> thank you for then it or shoot senator merkley's mentioning the problem we have with title to property. large families without a will the distribution sometimes -- back when i was trying to eke out a living as a small-town lawyer was difficult to find the air so i appreciate mr. merkley's effort with self certification there with fema. it's fair to say though ms. harden that once we get this third leg of the project done there will be less need for fema to come in because the flooding will be in an area where people will know in advance that you shouldn't plant their and if you do you're assuming the risk. >> because you know and we have dealt with the salty sears and people say well, move. this is our home. it's been our home for many years.
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we can't just up and move and then a lot of the lower income, how are they going to move? >> it's been there property for generations. but they ask you briefly because the chair is going to wield that gavel. with this project benefit or harm wildlife? would it benefit or harm aquatic species? .. it should not be. people saying this will harm our life. all they had to do was come to the delta and look and see how this flooding harmed our wild diaper. >> thank you ma'am thank you
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mr. trevor. >> thank you, senator carper. >> thank you both, good to see you. thank you for joining us today, tell me where from both of you? i am from mississippi. >> out against boston okay. [laughter] and how about you sir? >> good morning sir. top of the world. >> who did you say your favorites editor? [laughter] got a couple good ones. [laughter] let me just say to the gentleman and ranking member for convening this hearing today. we thank both of you for joining us. have a couple other witnesses as well. today i believe is the first senate environmental public works committee hearing in almost 15 years on the subject of environmental justice, constancy subcommittee has
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included environmental justice is far from new. low income americans have shouldered much of the burden of pollution and other environmental problems that impact our nation. x often hard to illustrate. there's one statistic that's a report last year about 70% of the nation's most environmentally contaminated sites located within just a 1 mile of federally assisted housing, think about that. 70% of the nations can sites are all located within 1 mile of federally assisted housing. that is just one drop in the bucket. one funding that all paint the same picture crystal clear we
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are long-overdue for a reckoning here. we say environmental justice is not a buzzword or talking points it means we have a moral obligation to buy justice and fairness in the forefront of all the work that we do. my talk but environmental justice i talk about the way we want to be treated. this has to be a top priority for all democrats, republicans are certainly the cases might work on this committee and privilege to chair in the environmental justice caucus which i cofounded with her colleagues hundred duckworth and senator booker print and please our committees are leading by example of the bipartisan drinking water by a margin of 89 -- two per b do not do many things rendered by 89 -- two that's a huge moped legislation makes average investments a lot of infrastructure.
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and the memes to pay for part one part of our bill is especially proud of 40% the funds are designated to underserved rural and tribal committees including in alaska. this finding is crucial in helping disadvantaged committees make the necessary upgrades to ensure family access to clean water and crating a brighter future for the kids. we try to do right by our neighbors and help those most in need whether they are neighbors around street around the block, crosstown and other community or county those are our neighbors too. throughout the rescue planning to set aside 50 million does environmental justice grants. we also set aside some 50 million for environmental justice grants at the epa another 50,000,002 prove air quality monitoring. now is this body is in the final sprint working on expansive legislation we must
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keep our focus is a fairness for a moral obligation is especially true of providing a nurturing environment critical to livelihoods and prospects for generations to come. we must make sure to create a better future for all of our neighbors. as i'm pleased to have this can hearing along wind of her short question pretty newer testimony they traditionally have denied access with sustainable infrastructure. investing in these communities as well as other communities suffered from historic disinvestment or become even more port and here's the question how can federal
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government help environmental justice committees prepare for climate change and its effects? >> is his firm's flowers? >> this is from his flowers. ms. flowers is online. >> thank you, thank you for that question. i think the way the federal government could help the communities adjust to climate change is to pass the americans about plan. i think it is a start and making sure 40% as investments are going to those communities in a frontline community that are most overburdened. i think of seen examples of that today with the other witnesses. so i support that effort. i think this is the first time i have heard them doing this
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work. >> thank you for that response. i just mentioned a question for the record all asked our witnesses to respond for the record. the question is would you please tell us more business for mr. toledo. [inaudible] please sells more health threats to water access impact environment of justice communities especially those in rural areas how does this threat compared to communicative pollution releases you have your testimony that is my question ask you to respond to the record burke i thank you all for testifying today. [inaudible] brickwork thank you very much chair carper and now cochair the floor is yours brickwork thank you, mr. chairman and think all for being here today. in order to support environmental justice committees it's imperative
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that processes allow these committees have economic communities if spoken about that party supported bills like the use it act which helps to maximize technology for this promising technology is essential to reducing emissions or protecting jobs. the power sector emissions requires leveraging the carbon pollution free energy potential power plants retrofitted with carbon capture. so miss flowers i am surprised when i read the recommendation of the white house environment justice advisory council which you were the in that the vice chair and think. that group stated in that report that any support for carbon capture utilization storage would harm disadvantaged communities. i'm asking if you personally agree with that recommendation that the administration should stop supporting carbon capture
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utilization technology? >> first of all i'm here as a private citizen. i will give you my personal opinion. it's based on my conversations with environmental activist living in communis in california and other places that could potentially deal with carbon capture, they are concerned carbon capture but harm their community. i think a position that makes sure that was there is based on the lived experiences of people who dealt with carbon capture who believe it would do harm and a part of when the tenants of environmental justice is to do no harm. in my personal opinion i would like to see air quality monitoring and whatever it needs happen to make sure
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those plants are either shut down for they are not polluting those communities as they are today. i do not have enough information about carbon capture to make an educated opinion about it. basically what i am looking for is whatever kinds of technologies they can make sure we all have that clean water. >> i appreciate that. the reason i'm interested in this obviously is where i am from, i am from west virginia. the reports that came from the white house environmental justice advisory council is dimmed that what the actual ministration and council of environmental quality is saying. cc u.s. has a critical role to play empty carbonized in the global economy. i think that is a position of two different positions come from the same administration. i would like to note for ms. harden, this is something i struggle with again being a
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west virginian because we have so many people who are heavily impacted by regulation or new policy by the inability to fix the problem. but where my frustration comes from money think they have this from both of you is do you actually go to the people that live there he said it wellin your statement. your environment so deep in your culture than you? no one knows how to care for that better than you. is that a frustration for you that sometimes all these decisions are made in your voices never heard? >> thank you for that question. we truly believe at heart we are by nature, by culture, by how we live off the land we are the best stewards of the land. we walk the land we fished, we
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hunt, we trap, all of these things bring a spiritual link and a personal link to the land that we care for. that is our way of life. and in terms of the rest of alaska i truly believe the 130,000 native alaskans share that philosophy of life in many of them are being directly or indirectly impacted by these contaminants and pollutants. >> thank you. you believed west virginians are right there with you. i think a lot ms. harden you mentioned just leave, i thought if you are part. >> you go out into your community, most of the time the community comes to us because our dairy bar is like
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the center of our town. you get the farmer coming in and telling you how things are and how hard it's going to be about your life. you get the farmer and employees coming and letting you know how hard it's going to be for their life. it goes on and on from the top to the bottom. i see it all and i hear it all. my job, my job isn't to just be a business owner. my job is to care for these people and take care of these people because they are who takes care of me. >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much senator capito, et cetera doc worth is joining us on my part. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your work as an advocate for environmental justice especially in a functional for communities
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across the united states. your testimony is a very urgent need to address our infrastructure especially in sanitation and equality. as chairman of that i believe access to clean safe water is a basic human right. it is unacceptable these very vulnerable committees are impacted by poor water quality and access. with takes far song for people to hear about a people to get along. for decades we've turned a blind eye wastewater infrastructure act receiving the funding they need to modernize your drinking water
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and wastewater infrastructure. i know this amount of funding would be a great start rate this must be a continuing legacy would you agree access to safe reliable drinking water and wastewater is an environmental justice issue? it is an environmental justice issue. and clearly, what we saw we set did a parasite study will be collected fecal, mud, water, soil samples and we found other tropical parasites in our areas. especially in areas or people are not dealing with proper sanitation. this is a problem throughout the u.s. yes i want to senator and saw firsthand. there's no central database
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thank you that's a very good point. in the should be a top environmental justice priority. >> yes water is life and none of us can live without water. we have seen what happens and we don't build the health consequences of these issues pretty specially how it impacts the public. it very well could be all of the other kind of things that come about as big with inadequate sanitation could happen again and covid is part of when it comes the public health that we cannot turn a blind eye were all impacted. >> water is life you are so, so rights. in illinois we have a 1 million less than every state in the country. as you know there is no known safe lead level for lead in our children. therefore the pipes affect their children's help and they are specially higher for minority children.
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the drinking water and wastewater infrastructure act of 2021 pass the full 89 votes on the floor, would invest federal dollars into the testing of lead pipes. the presidents made one of his top parties to fund billions of dollars for the national line replacement. do you think the federal government should prioritize billions of federal dollars to remove all the lead service lines in this country? >> yes. yes. [laughter] thank you. i know it sounds like a no-brainer to you and me but let me tell you others would argue otherwise. people of color one half times more likely to live in an air with poor air quality with the major health from like asthma, heart issues of the reproductive issues but in fact you're in chicago you go ten spots on the rapid transit system, the l, the magnificent
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mile we have shops selling dollar gucci purchase you go ten steps to a black and brown neighbor just ten stops the light expectancy drops by 18 years, not from gun violence but from health issues like asthma, heart attacks, cancer. i've been pushing for efforts to increase air monitoring on a hyper local level. better implementation of mapping and screening tools help address these shortcomings by identifying the communities that need it most and connect them with policy solutions. furthermore what other tools are you think are necessary to ensure the federal infrastructure investments are being discussed get to the correct most vulnerable communities they are intended for? >> thank you, senator for the question. yes, we have to begin by simply having the right data, right? we do not have that.
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it's a problem on multiple levels. often times import quality data, that really needs to be improved and allowed times community scientists and organizations to use their private data like is there pollution there on things like that. improving the quality data is really, really important. second of all's i said earlier we need to address the impacts. the individual facility which certainly is important but does not capture like what you're saying is happening on those stops that 18 year difference in long jet of it he. that is a real environment were talking about its were very limited ability although illinois is one of the states it has made steps to start talking about air act. we need to see that across the board. this becomes urgent in cities and urban areas, more so than
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many rural areas although not entirely is that the case. one of the last things you said is what else is the federal government need to be doing? one of the things i think is really important is to think about, i frankly feel the part of the federal government as well as many other government agencies or spent a lack of political will to really go after and enforce the existing environmental laws. we are not even talking about people that are outside the scope of the law. we cannot even enforce the existing law we had cases for example in los angeles of major polluters there a lead admissions were 50 the regulatory limits. it took them decades. they would not actually their forced or closed out after which they tried to declare bankruptcy leave the entire state of california with the
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cleanup bill for acres and acres of lead contamination. so there has to be a higher level of political will to enforce existing laws. >> thank you i'm over time mr. chairman for. >> thank you very much senator duckworth we will turn to senator sullivan for. >> thank you, mr. chairman. we thank you for holding this hearing. i think we arty have one unanimous agreement from here and that is on water. and the issues that senator duckworth just mentioned, i will mention in alaska we have over 30 communities do not have any running water, no flushed toilets, nothing. no running water. but almost all alaskan native communities are american citizens. i think it is completely inappropriate. by the way some of the most patriotic americans in the country, alaska natives like the lower 48 served at a higher rate and military than any other act nick group in
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the country. and yet they do not have water. that is just unacceptable for think we all need to work on it. think there is bipartisan support to do that. thank you again sir for being here, traveling very far for this meeting. i appreciate you mentioning king covid in your testimony as well. it is very magnanimous of you to be talking about a native community that's probably almost a thousand miles with your native community. it makes a point and it's a really good point. lemme go back to your issue of contaminated lands. permit senate colleagues here, the alaskan native claims settlement the biggest settlement act and probably certainly american history may beat world history, 44 million acres. and yet so much of the land was contaminated. we have made some progress here. we have clarified thanks to the work of german corporate recently the viability will
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not apply to anc, finally clarified that. but mr. rexford, what other types of assistance to communities such as yours and need from the federal government to address this issue 45 years, almost 50 years with her has been cleanup by the federal government which clearly is responsible for cleaning up these contaminated lands. but more assistance and other type of assistance would you recommend? >> thank you, senator sullivan one word would be commitment. commitment to cleanup. i have a reference daca i have prepared for these committee here. referencing two issues that have substance on our continued efforts to work with the navy on cleanup, the message is we will give it to you as it is and you are liable for cleanup.
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and we cannot live without. we cannot afford expert. >> consistent commitment per your testimony does a really good job of showing how the feds sometimes are engaged in than they are not engaged. so you want consistent commitment to this issue. >> yes commitment. >> great let me ask another question. i mentioned the resource development opportunity, senator capitol mentions of the regulatory issues. can you tell us how one example the natural gas field discovery had a very big beneficial impact on your community. can you speak to that low-cost energy people take for granted in the lower 48 as a child
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growing up one of my tasks was to get firewood from the beaches or from the landfill. that escalated to a coal bag i had to put on the sled and take-home that was a process. that escalated to heating oil. namely heating oil number one into a stove that is on the back of it -- i could be very careful. those are my tasks. two or three days passed by i was about eight or nine years old i did not have to go pick up the fuel oil to pick up the house. i said mom are we going to run
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out of fuel? she said no we've got natural gas now. this is the benefit we have now. >> it took years for the city to advocate fort from the federal government. it took a long time. but it has been a resource for it and i like to make a comparison right now but if you go into the villages you are going to pay up to two and $50 a gallon or 33 under dollars a gallon to heat a home for three or four days. this is reality in the villages. the outlying villages through advocacy to the 1960s we have found natural gas hooked up to the community.
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we could have showers and we're fortunate enough. still many today do not have that luxury. we called a luxury because it's taken for granted. >> it's a luxury but people in the lower 48. [inaudible] let me just put in this analogy. when i woke up in the morning the water basin will be frozen, that is 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. senator sullivan. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to follow up on senator sullivan's first question about cleanup.
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specifically regarding superfund cleanup. i appreciate your focus that tribes are often left behind in the superfund cleanup process. like alaska, native corporation, many tribes in arizona have struggled for decades of funding in the superfund process. for example, they're more than 500 abandoned uranium lines on the navajo nation. behalf of the tribal leaders and commitments from federal leaders who work to clean up these sites, only four sites, only four out of 500 are currently undergoing remediation in large part because for many sites it is been impossible to locate a responsible party to pay. can you expand upon your testimony so why the existing
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process used by epa for prioritizing superfund cleanup sites may put tribes at a disadvantage? >> in terms of the super fund programs for contaminated cleanup. we have to work directly that native village or the community to receive those funds. we can do a partnership with the government. the reason why we are not getting what we need is priorities a set by the epa rarities set by regulation that seems to be the time we get a drop in the bucket. like the valley of 10,000 barrels, someone gets hurt they were able to clean up in
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a period of four years and seasons. or when we applied for funds for funding we did not qualify because we were not a tribe. they are infested with this pestis, are still on the ground when epa in blm called on me too identify the site locations at camp lonely we had to show them where those locations were. i worked a lot of the sites in my lifetime with a labor union, with the teamsters. we need our share of money to clean this up. not residuals in the villages i will use point hope as an example. i was taken the lead on the radioactive isotopes are left behind by the atomic energy
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commission of the united states in the 60s. they left it in the baller water the local people use for water. have the highest cancer rates in the nation at the time. the committee cannot understand why ever was getting sick when they're not being exposed to anything they knew of. basically this drinking water source had radioisotopes that the atomic energy commission let barrett and said leave it alone. but there was a water source for the community. we have had to bury many, many of our relatives in point hope over the years because of that very fact. that has been noted and reports of the atomic energy commission. and the federal government. that is just one example.
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the national petroleum reserve of alaska site, families and 80% of that family have died of cancer, cancer people of promise, people who were very productive and how we support the community through whaling, through subsistence. eight of the family members of 12 have died of cancer. this is devastating for these are facts we lived with. it's a water source for the community for decades. of the department of navy use it as a water source part however the contaminants of the 196-3100 year flood devastated that water source and paths are known to be
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putting up signs do not drink water. after centuries of access to this water source we are telling our own people do not drink this water source. so how do you get the money to the impacted community, to the impacted agency that is responsible for that? they would have to sign on a document that says we are going to receive it ask us where it is is. weight foot the bill for millions of dollars of cleanup, we cannot do that. we would deprive our next generation of shareholders, opportunities for education, opportunities for healthcare, and benefits for needed emergencies. economic profit that we have. so that we can continue to support them. especially for those that are needy. my colleague to my rates has
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very eloquently describe the very things we are faced with in the rural community. we share the same concerns. we have the same problems. but how you get federal government to say okay this is a priority we have 3500 people that are being affected, we have eight of 12 people in the family that have died, how do you balance that in the name of cleanup for the loss of a life? i am passionate about this because they are my people, my community and i represent them. but i live with them, i grew up with them, and i've seen them go. thank you for your questions. i do hope i did not miss your question very. >> no you didn't. that it is apparent there needs to be more direct funding for you do not have to apply to multiple agencies that the funds need to get to
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the communities to do this cleanup. i appreciate your examples. they are compelling. we have similar examples all over arizona where this cleanup needs to -- we've got to do better. there are four abandoned uranium mines, four out of 500 that's unacceptable, thank you. >> acute senator. senator markey. >> thank you for having with us. very important hearing. in farmville justice populations been burdened over and over again i pollution, and designed neglected not benign neglect designed neglect. as discussed by professor toledo it is critically important to address not only individual sources of pollution but the cumulative impacts of each alongside
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socioeconomic conditions. in drafting the environmental justice a mapping and data collection act, senator duckworth and i worked closely with environmental justice advocates to create a framework for eight federal method to map these cumulative impacts and ensure communities that are most at risk for environmental injustices are prioritizes we address the climate crisis. professor toledo and mrs. flowers would you agree it is important to consult with communities in the process of creating these maps as well as addressing any gaps in data that would make it harder to understand and tackle the environmental justice issues? >> thank you, senator for that question. i think yes we have to consult those communities. to give you a quick example in the rural communities if you do not go down the dirt roads
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and know people are there, they will not be counted. i think it's important that people impacted are part of the data collection because that's what we have so many gaps. >> is flowers? >> i would agree with that. it's really essential. one of the things we have seen, i have not seen the federal model or what it would look like pregnant and cases which is one prototype that has been developed they go and involve local community members they can point out tentative land uses that would also impact how it impacts. so for examples or childcare center there? is there an elder care facility there or schools, it has been very essential to happen very. >> thank you. to both of you again, with
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dedicated funding for community engagement cumulative impact mapping and data collection make it easier to prioritize improperly valued communities contributions to these efforts? >> yes. >> i agree. >> excellent. professor highlighted in her testimony extreme heat is an environmental justice issue, even within the same city to to impart to historic red landing and differences in tree cover, some neighborhoods often lower income communities are communities of color can be up to 20 degrees fahrenheit warmer. despite the fact most heat related deaths are preventable, extreme heat events kill more americans than any other weather event. as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. that is why i will soon be reintroducing preventing heat
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illness and deaths act to strengthen interagency efforts to address extreme heat and provide financial assistance for projects that reduce the health impact of extreme heat events such as urban tree plantings, and streets and cooling centers. climate change is only going to worsen the extreme heat crisis. we need prevention and now. professor, would you agree 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 thank you both for that. finally in the grips of a
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respiratory pandemic healthy air should not be determined by zip code. but even within a single neighborhood air quality can vary up to eight 100%. we cannot manage what we do not measure. it's been unchanged for nearly two decades i have grants and contract funding for hyper air quality monitoring and environmental justice communities. would you agree it's important for us to identify to communicate about a work to reserve air pollution hotspots all across our hunter country. >> yes absolutely.
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>> people and cancer alley would welcome that. >> again cancer alley is just one example that has proliferated across our entire country. it is just time for us to have environmental justice at the core of any piece of legislation which we pass this year. because if you don't map it is impossible then to rectify this torque injustices. thank you both for your work historically into both of our panelists as well. thank you for conducting this hearing. >> 90 senator markey. we're going to have second round which each senator is allowed one question. if you'd like to stay, and a senator sylvan has a question i understand senator wicker my return for additional question. my additional question goes to mrs. flowers. you refer in your testimony to cancer alley along mississippi
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river. were they have very high cancer rates due to pollution. what is the source of that pollution that is affecting residence in cancer allie? lex thank you for that question. i have the opportunity to be taken on a tour through the communities led by retired general audrey. i was shocked by what i saw. it was almost like a disneyland of petrochemical plants sitting along the mississippi river. even though i was only there for several hours, i myself had respiratory issues once i left to their. i had to really go to bed for about a week trying to figure out what was going on with me. to me, it made me feel it's
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really even harder for people who had to live there. these implants are located next to homes, they are located in a two schools. the people been crying out for the longest about getting air quality monitors there so they can monitor and be able to show the correlation between what is being in the area and the illnesses that they are dealing with. cancer allie is just one example as stated earlier. but clearly we have to view that as may be an example of how we get local people involved and be able to monitor and track what is happening there. >> thank you very much for sharing that. i will note that one of the side effects of natural gas is climate change, is driving the tremendous fires out in oregon. another side effect of natural gas is feedstock for making plastics results in very high
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cancer rates for those who are located nearby. senator sullivan. >> thank you, mr. chairman going to raise an issue i raised a number of times in this committee. the biden administration stated its focus optic and bring it over here little more? on racial equity and environmental justice. my views not fully considered the welfare of alaskan natives which certainly are our biggest minority group in alaska who have seen great advances and life expectancy. life expectancy because of the opportunities and health benefits of resource development. this is a chart that shows, and american medical association study on changes and life expectancy in america from 19,822,014, the dark blue
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and purple are the biggest increases up to 13 years. the yellow and red are decreases rate that is where the opioid epidemic has hit communities very hard. alaska has the highest life expectancy increases of any place in the country. the reason is twofold. one is the have a very low life expectancy to begin with. but resorts development start happening on the north slope, the aleutian island chain. i am worried that as this administration starts to focus on shutting down those opportunities in a rural communities, that these incredible advances, 13 year life expectancy increases, i do not think there's anything more important than that in terms of indicator policy
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success than are the people you represent living longer. and in alaska they are living longer because of these opportunities. i am worried we are going to go backwards in this important area if this administration focuses on shutting down resource develop opportunities and our state. particularly the rural areas. mr. rexford you have a lot of expense in this general issue seeing life expectancy increase economic opportunity that comes of the resource development. would you like to comment on this? do you have concerns these opportunities are shut down were going to one backwards? >> yes thank you senator sold and committee members. in my entire lifetime i father was out and worked resource development to remote sites for six months out of the year end come home seeking oil and
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collect gas exploration so we can have resources. and then he was there during the discovery of the pipeline and dead horse. i worked the pipeline there's a benefit to economic jobs. and also the state of alaska enjoyed the royalties that allowed us to get in some cases basic services, water, wastewater treatment and yet today there are struggles. the benefits i've directly seen since 1974 in my short lifetime after graduating from high school in 1973 is our ability to tax oil and gas properties. i do file a lawsuit so we can
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generate revenue to build roads to build health clinics to build fire stations high school and junior high facilities. behavioral health that comes with infrastructure needs. that is basically from the malaria task of 2.5%. 1.8 -- 2.5% annually. that supported economic jobs safe water health clinics so we can get better healthcare and detect illnesses before went to bed. now, we talk about the eight villages there still struggling because infrastructure is now 45 -- 50 years old. we continue to upgrade them with what little money we have
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to keep from going to continue the level of services. but these are the benefits that we have received. the subsidy and heating oil is very crucial very special and economically zones that have no economy. but there's the native villages, the tribes and the city to provide opportunities for they have to go outside of the community to support their families. to provide their their families. otherwise it is welfare. we are not a welfare driven community. we like to bring an industrial paired be like to be productive. and give back with our own dignity, with our self respect in the name of a job and employment. >> that is what we seek. >> very powerful, that's a government program is a good
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job. >> thank you, mr. chairman fix senator markey? >> president biden's plan is to have 40% of the programs go towards our communities that are environmental justice communities. what in your opinion is the best way to ensure what you put in place to accomplish that goal? >> perhaps ms. harden you would speak to that? >> the money is great and it is needed. but what we need to see in the delta are the pumps. ask the what? the back water pumps. we need those pumps put in.
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without those pumps we are not able to have many job opportunities. the businesses are closing, people are moving, we need to keep the people there. with us getting back water pumps that money would be needed in our area. but we need the pumps before. >> thank you very helpful. >> my ears are ringing present biden plans on 40% of his jobs creation act in order to have direct access to those communities who administer and
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implement the programs intended for. now, if there are provisions in their of that funding how's it going to filter down? and put it back into the community and sustain it, that is the question. to sustain the program for future generations in all due respect the sunshine state of florida has a lot of sun. we nearly have none. so pull her energy is limited. and so what type of program would generate infrastructure for sustainability and will be a goal we could set this will definitely be sustainable for future generations.
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and yet the ability to maintain and operate to a minimum that it sustains itself. i do hope i answered your question very. >> yes thank you if you could make time is about to expire, professor, ms. flowers, would you have any quick insights you would like to give to the committee is how to make sure that funding does go to environmental communities? >> first of all we should have a scorecard to make sure it does affect go to these communities. guard bill should be put in place to make sure the business opportunities that are created will be created for people who live in those communities as well for. >> beautiful great, ms. flowers? >> one of the things i would say is i work directly with the existing committee organizations with environmental justice work the nod.
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this are often times doing like weatherization projects and things like that. >> thank you. thank you all your contributions. >> thank you very much senator markey. enter the colleagues of the variety of the questions explain the issues of economic justice and injustice. there is a gathering back in 1991 in this gathering was a significant landmark in the national discussion about environmental justice. there is a four date summit attended by over thousand individuals from all 50 states. it was sponsored by the commission for racial justice and the united church of christ. and out of that came a set of four principles for
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environmental justice that have continued to through the last three decades. one is public policy must be based on mutual respect and justice for all people. second that the environmental justice committee has a right to participate as eagle partners and decision-making. including needs assessment, implementation, enforcement and evaluation. but his deceit at the table for the third is the use of land and renewable resources must be ethical, balanced and responsible in interest of a sustainable planet for both humans and other living things. and fourth, it's important for the pollution and a community rather than looking at each source in isolation. i want to close with those thoughts as i'm sure we will be continuing the conversation about environmental justice that is so important to make
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sure we do. and so now, thank you professor ms. coleman, ms. harden, mr. rexford for your contributions based on the experiences and knowledge you have accumulated through a lifetime. i like to ask unanimous consent to submit for the record number of reports and articles guards to today's hearing, hearing no objection thank you. additionally centers will be allowed to submit the record of the of business on august 5. we will compile those questions will send them out to our weaknesses and ask our witnesses to reply by august 19. so if we have questions for you all in addition from other members are members who are here today will get those to you and we would appreciate you sending us answers back. >> part of the record. and with that the hearing is adjourned. >> thank you.
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