Obama’s Footprint On America

It’s no secret that the President likes to travel in style, and safely as well. With such vehicles as the Air Force One jet, and the Presidential state car, you’d think his travel needs would be met. Think again.

Earlier this week President Barack Obama rolled out in his new, behemoth tour bus on a three-day, campaign-style trip across three states. Obama plans to get into the heartland of the United States and discuss ideas to help the economy grow. All politics aside however, how do the President’s rides effect our environment? As the head of a country one should lead by example. Is Obama fulfilling this role?

Known as the “flying oval office”, Air Force One serves as a mobile command center for the President. “Air Force One” is the name given by the Air Force to the two Boeing 747-200B’s that carry the President at any given time.

While aircraft pollution only makes up about 3% of the total amount of air pollution, experts expect this number to rise significantly in the coming years. The average aircraft traveling a distance of 1,500 miles generates the same amount of carbon dioxide that an SUV does—in a month.

Now, look at the Boeing 747, with four massive jet engines, a 52,400 gallon fuel tank. It’s one of the biggest aircrafts in the world. It can’t be the greenest option for flight. Take into consideration that other planes are usually flown ahead of Air Force One to provide any provisions the president may require during his trips. That’s a big carbon footprint that the president is leaving behind.

Next in the President’s garage is “The Beast”. Said “Beast” is, in fact, a fully modified Cadillac Limousine. Custom built by the Secret Service, it serves as the presidential state car.

The state car, dons bullet-proof windows, a body that can withstand a blast from a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), and a structure perfectly sealed against biochemical attacks. “The Beast”, however, remains a car at heart, and is by no means a hybrid.

Automobile emissions are responsible for 51% of the total carbon dioxide in our atmosphere; they are also the chief cause of smog. The presidential state car is part of this, alongside with the motorcade or escort that usually travels with it. In addition to its own emissions, the presidential state car adds to that. Anytime the President travels, be it to a foreign country or within the states, the state car is shipped ahead of time on a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III.

Oils reserves are shrinking everyday. Experts have calculated that 46% of the global oil supply goes towards fueling cars and light trucks. With Cadillac recently presenting its new Hybrid concept car, perhaps it’s time that “The Beast” be put down.

Finally, we come to the new wheels, the VIP H3-45 coach bus. With fortifications identical to that of “The Beast”, this bus looks more like a fortress on wheels. It set out on its journey across Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois this past Monday.

The “Obamamobile”, as some are calling the President’s new tour bus, is not exactly a jolly-green giant. With an average 4MPG (miles-per-gallon), the bus has a hefty thirst which was surely quenched more than once on its journey spanning hundreds of miles. Pollution from automobiles is responsible for the majority of air pollution, a fact that Obama’s fuel-inefficient bus isn’t helping to change.

The Secret Service was said to have purchased two of these massive buses, it was day viewed this past Monday on the President’s bus tour, but they will continue running long after this trip is over. The two buses will be made available to others who need secure modes of travel, for instance the 2012 GOP presidential nominee.

President Barack Obama has set in motion many things that will hopefully, in the long run, help and benefit the environment. With plans to reduce our dependence on oil, and reduce emissions that contribute to climate change, Obama is striving for a shift to green. However, the change to a greener lifestyle, like any good change, should begin with oneself. President Obama may have many plans to help the environment, but if he doesn’t begin to make a change for himself, how can his supporters be expected to as well?

Photo credit: whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/16/president-obama-why-i-wanted-get-public-service-first-place

Shell Gets Backing to Drill in the Arctic

Offshore oil drilling came to a halt last year after BP experienced a devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The toxic leak led the Obama administration to impose a clampdown on offshore drilling.  However, regulations seem to be shifting as the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) recently granted Shell a tentative approval to begin exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean starting next summer.

Despite continual opposition from environmentalists and native Alaskans who use the area for their livelihood, Royal Dutch Shell has invested over five years and billions of dollars attempting to secure rights for drilling in the Arctic Ocean.  If the approval passes, Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, plans to drill four exploratory wells in the Beaufort Sea.  The proposed wells would be drilled over two years in Camden Bay.  Shallow ocean floors would limit drilling to only a depth of 160 feet and approximately 20 miles off shore.  Many point to BP’s spill in 2010 as proof the depth and mileage of Shell’s drilling could turn devastating.  In contrast, BP was drilling at a depth of over 5,000 feet and 40 miles off the Louisiana coast, yet 11 workers were killed, nearly five million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico and innumerable sea life was harmed or killed.

Those opposed to the Arctic Ocean drilling say depth and mileage is just one of many reasons the plan should not pass.  The proposed site of drilling off the North Slope of Alaska is near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  The water in the area houses a delicate ecosystem made up of marine mammals such as bowhead whales, polar bears, walrus, ice seals and other marine wildlife, many which are endangered.  Another reason argued against the drilling is the Beaufort Sea’s condition.  The frigid water poses unique obstacles if a spill did occur.  Director of Pew Environment Group’s Arctic program, Marilyn Heiman, said the region is considered the harshest in the world for drilling with hurricane-force winds, high seas, broken and shifting sea ice, subzero temperatures and months of fog and darkness.  On top of such conditions, the nearest Coast Guard Station is hundreds of miles away.  And while Shell does have a spill response plan, they acknowledge they don’t know how to address a potential spill on ice.

For the proposal to move forward, Shell still must receive a slew of approvals and permits from the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.  Despite the need for more authorizations, steps are being taken to allow Shell to begin drilling.  According to a statement by BOEMRE Director, Michael Bromwich, the administrations decision was based on “the best scientific information available.”  In an announcement from BOEMRE, they stated that reviews and analyses found no evidence to suggest drilling would significantly affect the “quality of the human environment.”  The Interior Department vows to closely monitor Shell’s activities and make sure all actions are performed environmentally responsible.

The tentative approval comes after months of continually increasing gas prices.  A report by The New York Times states the move proves a willingness from President Obama to approve expansion of domestic oils. Alaska is being targeted for such an expansion because the state’s waters are considered to hold the second largest oil reservoir behind the Gulf of Mexico.  According to a federal report, the Arctic Ocean could hold as much as 26.6 billion barrels of oil.  If passed, the plan is believed to be the key in alleviating the Untied States’ reliance on foreign oil, along with increasing the national employment rate.

Photo Credit:  boemre.gov/mmskids/explore/explore.htm

San Diego May Change the Way the City Celebrates

San Diego’s Fourth of July festivities may be at risk after a Superior Court Judge called into question the environmental effects of such displays.  Scrupulous environmental reviews of large events including Fourth of July celebrations and birthday parties at city parks are currently being assessed.  Ruling by Superior Court Judge Linda Quinn means all such celebrations will require an evaluation under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Judge Quinn’s ruling came after a lawsuit filed by Environmental Lawyer Marco Gonzalez put into question the safety of the La Jolla Cove firework display.  City spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders, Alex Roth said Gonzalez’s lawsuit is shameless and questions what other events will be brought into question under California’s environmental laws.  Several other representatives of the city second Roth’s opinion stating this decision “opens the door to absurd results.”

Marco Gonzalez stated his intent was never to stop all large celebrations.  Instead he wants to bring awareness of negative the environmental impact some of the events are causing.  He went on to state there are some shows that are located in environmentally sensitive areas that concern him.  One of the major events is the La Jolla Cove firework display.  Gonzalez said his main concern is the firework display sets close to a marine sanctuary.  Noise and debris generated by the celebration may harm nearby sea life. 

La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation representing lawyer, Robert Howard doesn’t agree with Gonzalez.  Howard said the firework show would continue despite the ruling.  He said if the ruling is allowed to stand all other forms of entertainment will be subjected to strict environmental reviews.  Spokesman Alex Roth also stated that the city plans to appeal the ruling.  Roth spoke out saying Gonzalez was merely on a “bizarre crusade to stop fireworks” and questioned if lawsuits against swimming in the ocean with suntan lotion would be next.

Friday, May 29’s ruling was a victory for Gonzalez.  Gonzalez said the win is vindication for both those he represents and the environment.  He’s quest for keeping California beaches environmentally safe for the sea animals is far from finished.  He will continue seeking reviews of firework shows under the state’s environmental law.  Judge Quinn’s ruling was indeed a win for Gonzalez and others, but he wants the impacts of firework shows studied and mitigated.  Pyrotechnic displays impact the environment by way of marine life, water quality, traffic, noise and air.  His win means regional pollution regulators must create a new permit for fireworks shot over beaches and bays.

Roth, Howard and other city officials hope to come to an agreement with Gonzalez.  San Diego issues thousands of permits annually for events at 350 parks.  With such a large volume of applicants, the process must be kept simple.  Show organizers fear if the ruling stands the permit process will become lengthy, time-consuming and expensive.  Organizers would need to file an environmental impact report before receiving any permits.  Mayor Sanders said no one would want to go through such rigorous procedures.  The La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation asked the ruling to be on hold for 90 days, while the city and the show organizers plan to ask California’s 4th District Court of Appeal to overturn the decision.

After months of being called un-American for challenging the American tradition of firework displays, Gonzalez, as of now, can put a check in the win column.  For his part he said protecting water quality and coastal species is patriotic.    

Photo Credit:  pullman-wa.gov/Departments/Fire/DrawOnePage.aspx?PageID=963

EPA Promotes Green Infrastructure to Battle Storm Water Runoff

The EPA is launching a “green infrastructure” campaign that focuses on storm water runoff, one of the most troublesome environmental problems in the United States.

The agency has officially recognized ten cities across the nation that exhibit ideal green infrastructure, effectively making them models for the rest of the country. It is touting efforts such as increased tree cover and permeable ground surfaces as vital systems to combat the environmental problem.

Storm water runoff is responsible for polluting streams, lakes, and other aquatic habitats that would otherwise be clean and healthy. The water carries with it chemicals, soil, and other substances that pollute environments to which they are carried, according to the agency. Storm water also overloads city water systems and creates erosion. Excessive runoff can take the blame for downstream flooding that overwhelms populated areas during heavy rains.

When rushing rain water is slowed down and encouraged to soak into soil and other permeable materials, it can be naturally filtered and will drain in a balanced way.

The ten cities are Los Angeles, CA; Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Denver, CO; Jacksonville, FL; Kansas City, MO; Puyallup, WA; Washington D.C., Cleveland, OH, Syracuse, NY, as well as some nearby communities.

 “Through this agenda, we’ll help cities and towns across the nation clean up their waters and strengthen their communities by supporting and expanding green infrastructure. Green infrastructure changes improve the health of our waters while creating local jobs, saving communities money and making them healthier and more prosperous places to raise a family and start a business,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe.

In addition to the benefits to health and ecosystems, green infrastructure would have economic and energy savings by reducing runoff into collection and treatment systems.

The EPA hopes that placing a stamp of approval on the ten communities will result in increased tourism, jobs, revitalized neighborhoods, and expansion of recreational spaces there.

Green infrastructure also incorporates ideas such as green roofs made of plants and soil, expanded tree cover, rain harvesting systems, permeable materials for filtering rain, and other tools to help cities find a balance in times of heavy storms.

The revamp comes just in time as cities drag their feet from the burden of economic downturn. Green roofs made of soil and vegetation not only reduce runoff but save as much as 15 percent on heating and cooling costs for houses and businesses. Increased trees and vegetation can also help insulate buildings from temperature extremes.

Although the campaign does not entail grants or funding for the cities, it does serve to recognize their efforts and reveals the EPA’s increasing concern over localized infrastructure to combat environmental problems. The effort will encourage cities to consider the vitality of these aspects of infrastructure when they confront their own storm water problems.

Systems are best designed based on local problems. As an example, Onandaga County, home of Syracuse, has been battling storm water runoff with innovative, localized efforts, reports syracuse.com. In order to save Onondaga Lake, which was heavily polluted, a series of projects were implemented and suggested.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney Mahoney recently proposed a 1.5 acre green roof on the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention center, which would be the largest green roof in the northeast. It would absorb 1 million gallons of rainwater each year. Other plans in the county include permeable sidewalks and rain gardens.

Photo Credit: green.maryland.gov

China Moving Towards Greener Future with Environmental Goals

March 15, 2011 – Carly Fiske

It appears that China may finally be joining the environmentalist bandwagon. Recent statements by government leaders suggest the fast-developing nation is growing concerned about the continuation of economic growth in light of present environmental degradation. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, in an internet talk, announced that growth rate goals for the country would be reduced from 7.5% to 7%, in large part due to environmental issues. It seems the Chinese government is coming to terms with the fact that unchecked economic development is often coupled with environmental problems that sneak behind it. Environmental damage, such as resource depletion, threatens to stop economic progress altogether, so it’s no surprise that China is starting to get their act together.

While uninhibited economic growth seemed an infallible goal to the China of ten years ago, a more complicated reality is now coming to light. In an online discussion, Mr. Wen expressed concerns that social and environmental stability are to be lost if economic growth continues at its current pace. He describes the issues of rapid growth as leading to “production capacity gluts and deepening pressure on the environment and resources” causing “unsustainable” development. While China’s economic numbers have looked promising in recent years, the future may be bleak if resources become exhausted. He also shows concern that growing public unrest will disrupt growth if pollution problems are not addressed.

The statements by the Prime Minister indicate a changing paradigm in China that is moving towards careful economic and ecological decisions. Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian makes even stronger assertions about the need for changes in China’s environmental goals. He believes that economic long-term growth goals in China can only be achieved if resource utilization becomes more efficient. He is eager for environmental protection to be a key aspect of the Five Year Plan (2011-2015) which is to be debated during the annual session of the National People’s Congress. This would be a clear transition from the old economic model of excessive consumption and input, to a new model of sustainable growth.

Environmental growth was intended to increase the quality of life for Chinese people, but left unchecked has harmed the health and well-being of many citizens. A great number of citizens, just like in other industrialized nations, suffer from adverse affects of pollution and other environmental harms. In fact, China is now considered to have the most polluted waterways and air in the world. As the largest consumer of cars and vans, CO2 emissions are a major issue for the health of the environment and citizens. China has more premature deaths due to air quality than anywhere else in the world. But human health isn’t the only issue; China emits more greenhouse gases than any other country, with 6.5 billion metric tons of CO2 a year. These statistics are no surprise due to the size of China’s population, but it’s important to consider the impact that unchecked growth will have if these trends continue.

There are other less visible examples of the health issues caused by the growth of factories and other symptoms of industrialization in China. Just this January, a report from China’s state-run news agency revealed that 200 children in eastern China who lived near battery factories had elevated lead levels, despite laws restricted factories from proximity to residential areas. Unfortunately, this single case is probably one of many, but happens to have received the most media attention. Experts believe that numerous similar cases of industrial poisoning exist throughout China that are not investigated. These kinds of problems are present in many industrialized countries, but to China they are new, widespread, and growing problems. 

China is definitely not alone in these kinds of mistakes. The U.S. has encountered a similar struggle to maintain a sustainable balance between economic development and environmental impact. But as the largest and fastest growing industrialized nation and biggest exporter in the world, China is perhaps the most significant actor in environmental decisions today. China is to be making plans for its future that will affect the world. Although economic growth is their aim, leaders in China would truly benefit if they remember to make environmental protection a key part of that plan.

Photo Credit

South Sudan: A New Green Country?

February 15, 2011 – Kurt Thurber

On July 9, 2011 a new country will be born as the population of South Sudan chose to break away from the northern part of the country. At the end of a referendum process, South Sudan decided with nearly 99 percent of vote to become the newest sovereign nation. Great news for the cartography industry, new world and African maps are going to be needed. Diplomatically and politically, it is hoped that it will end the civil unrest between the Arab/Islamic population in the north and the Christian population in the south.  Let’s take this opportunity to exam what the creation of this new country will mean for environmental issues that plague Africa and the world.

South Sudan will not be starting its existence in a poll position. The total population for the region is estimated somewhere between 8 to 14 million due to refugees coming back to the area and no central government apparatus to provide a census. The country’s infrastructure is lacking. Paved roads are nearly non-existent outside of the capital, Jubba. All electricity is generated by private generators. Due to the ongoing civil conflicts throughout Sudan’s history there are many armed factions still in the country.

If this was enough to deal with, the country is loaded with natural resources. They have an estimated 6.7 billion reserves in oil. There are large deposits gold, copper and iron ore. Before breaking away from the rest of Sudan, South Sudan faces the possibility of exploitation of its resources. Chinese oil companies already operate in the area.  For developing or third world countries, natural resources are as much a curse as a blessing. The mineral wealth will ensure that South Sudan has a relationship with the United States, the European Union, China and India, however, the extraction of raw materials and oil creates very few jobs and most of the profits will not be spent in South Sudan.  

It is estimated that 90 percent of the land in South Sudan is arable for agricultural production. Much of the land is used to support 11 million head of cattle, most of which are not used for beef production. Traditional beliefs in the area use cows as status symbols and currency. Many Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) are attempting to educate the South Sudanese to use more ecological herd practices as well as introducing profitable agricultural and orchard practices.

A September 2007 USAID report, sponsored by the International Resource Group, studied South Sudan’s wildlife and environmental resources. South Sudan possesses six different habitats including vast numbers of woodlands. Within these habitats there are various forms of wildlife from herds of gazelles and wildebeest to various indigenous fauna. As of now South Sudan contains five protected parks with a proposed sixth.  Conservation could be one of South Sudan’s most economical practices. The report lists the following factors as impediments towards the sustainability are a lack of government authority to enforce biodiversity standards, slow decentralization of management to environmental areas and the movement of people due to the conflict in the area. As with mineral exploitation, South Sudan’s various woodlands are also in danger of commercial exploitation and over-use for domestic consumption.

The bottom-line is that South Sudan is teeming with different habitats and subsequent wildlife. If they find stability in their government eco-tourism is an industry they can use to provide a higher standard of living for their population. This can be not only a new start for the people of South Sudan, also the way economical and sustainable development strategies are implemented. Most developing societies assume they have to go through traditional methods of Western civilization which caused much pollution. In the present and in the future, technologies and knowledge exists that these trends can be broken. South Sudan deserves to be a template for sustainable development and conservation.

Featured Image – Getty Images

Figure 1. – War News Updates

Figure 2. – Wildlife Consevation Society

Plastic Bags Banned in San Jose

San Jose, California recently added its name to the growing number of cities banning the use of plastic bags.  Tuesday, December 14, San Jose’s city council passed a 10-1 ordinance prohibiting plastic bag use in most retail establishments.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle, approximately 5,000 businesses would feel the affect of the plastic bag ban.

San Jose is not the first city in California to pass such an ordinance.  In 2005, San Francisco officials “considered imposing a 17-cent tax on petroleum-based plastic bags before reaching a deal with the California Grocers Association.”  The agreement stated that in 2006 large supermarkets must reduce the number of plastic bags given to shoppers by 10 million.  By the end of the year, the Grocers Association claimed it cut back by 7.6 million, but city officials claimed the figures were unreliable based on poor data supplied by the supermarkets. Disagreements renewed interest in banning all plastic bag use.  March of 2007, San Francisco became the first city in the United States to ban petroleum-based plastic bag use.  Legislation voted 10-1 that large markets and pharmacies must use compostable bags made of corn starch or bags made of recycled paper.

Not the first city to prohibit plastic bag use, San Jose became the largest city in the United States prohibiting carry-out bags.  The ordinance, starting January 1, 2012, includes most retailers, excluding restaurants and nonprofit, secondhand stores.  Plastic bags will also continue to be used to protect meat and produce.  Sandwich bags and trash bags will be unaffected by the ordinance.  Supporters of the ordinance state the new law “was the most far-reaching in the country aimed at encouraging shoppers to bring reusable totes.”

The widespread banning is not the only reason the ordinance is considered the most far-reaching.  To encourage shoppers to bring his or her own reusable bag, retailers will charge 10 cents per disposable paper bag.  That amount will increase to 25 cents by 2014.  Food-stamp recipients and low-income situations will be exempted from costs.  Retailers who do not follow the ordinance will face fines of $500 to $1,000 for violations.  According to Save the Bay executive director, David Lewis, the combination of fees and fines places San Jose’s ban as the strictest ban across the country.

              More on Save the Bay:

                  www.savesfbay.org

Critics of the ban, such as the American Chemistry Council, feel government officials should promote recycling instead of banning.  The Council, which represents plastic bag makers, claimed their product is being “unfairly maligned.”  They cited plastic bags can be recycled into products such as shopping carts and composite lumber.  Lewis argued recycling efforts are not enough and has failed in the past.  Reports show the Bay Area uses about 3.8 billion plastic bags per year.  Lewis says only 5 percent of bags are recycled and roughly 1 million end up in the San Francisco Bay, where the bags harm birds and other marine animals.

San Jose joins ten other cities in California with similar bans.  Long Beach, Santa Monica, and Santa Cruz are considering laws restricting plastic bag use as well.  Internationally, Ireland and China practice successful bag ban policies.   In 2009, the U.N. Environmental Program pushed for a global ban on plastic bag production.  Washington D.C. approved a bag tax, but overall bag ban policies in the United States have not seen the success rate of other countries.  The majority of San Jose councilmen are optimistic about the positive affects the plastic bag ban will provide.  Councilman Sam Liccardo says the ordinance is a great step and “an opportunity to lead on an important environmental issue.

White House Hosts Environmental Forum

Last Wednesday, December 15, marked a historic day as the White House hosted the first-ever Environmental Justice Forum.  Major cabinet members along with environmental leaders from across the country met to discuss improving the “health and environmental integrity of the nation’s often-neglected poorer communities.” The summit began at 10 am (EST) with live streaming offered via the internet.  The daylong Environmental Justice Forum agenda specified six sessions starting with green jobs and concluding with climate adaptation.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency held the forum just a week after the conclusion of the Cancun Climate Conference 2010.  The Eisenhower Executive Office, next to the White House, acted as host site for the summit.  The event saw environmental leaders, officials from state, local, and tribal governments, along with feature heads of eight federal U.S. agencies in attendance.  Noted speakers included Nancy Sutley, Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality; Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Ken Salazar, Secretary, U.S. Department of Interior; Eric Holder, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice; Hilda Solis, Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor; Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Janet Napolitano, Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.   Steven Chu, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy was also slated to speak, but called in sick.   

Environmental justice was a concept formed in the 1980s in response to citizens of poorer communities voicing environmental discrimination (evolving into the term environmental racism).  Lack of political and economical power, combined with lack of environmental awareness, prevented poorer areas from benefiting from environmental regulations.  The lack of environmental regulation lead to practices such as toxic dumping, municipal waste facility, and poor land use decisions which negatively affected less affluent communities.  Championed primarily by minority races, environmental justice began as a grassroots activism eventually changing legislation’s actions by allowing communities to be informed about developments in their area.

Actions in the 1980s gave way to the Environmental Justice Movement, but the development of such a movement is believed to have origins as early as the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and the Environmental Movement in the 1960s and 1970s.  The Movements are considered stepping stones for the concept of Environmental Justice because of “environmental threats from hazardous wastes and other toxic chemicals in their communities, low-income communities of color emerged as strong activists against what they viewed as environmental attacks on their civil rights.”

The Environmental Justice Movement may loosely have roots to the Civil Rights and Environmental Movements, but Warren County, North Carolina is recognized as the Environmental Justice birthplace.  In 1982, Warren County, a community with 69 percent non-white citizens, was selected by the state as a chemical landfill site.  A month long protest proved unsuccessful at preventing the landfill from developing.  However, national civil rights leaders and environmentalists took notice.  During this time, then United Church of Christ’s Commission for Racial Justice (CRJ) director and protest participant, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, coined the term environmental racism.  The Warren County event also acted as motivation for a CRJ study on correlations between race and toxic waste.  A 1987 report was published on the study citing large representations of toxic facilities in minority communities. 

In 1992, under the Bush Administration, environmental justice became the cornerstone for the Office of Environmental Justice within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Two years later, the Clinton Administration challenged federal agencies to become more aware of how their actions would negatively affect minority communities’ environment.  Unfortunately, the Office of Environmental Justice lost financial support during the second Bush Administration. 

President Obama hopes the Environmental Justice Forum will re-spark financial backing, keeping environmental discrimination from occurring.  The overall focus of the conference was on President’s Obama’s “commitment to ensuring that overburdened and low-income communities have the opportunity to enjoy the health and economic benefits of a clean environment.”