NEWARK, N.J. – Senior environmental enforcement officials from the U.S. Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toured sites in Newark, N.J., today and met with federal partners and with environmental and community organizations to discuss mutual efforts to address environmental challenges and enforce environmental laws, and in particular efforts to achieve environmental justice.
Officials included Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division; Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey; and Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for the EPA Office of Enforcement Compliance Assurance. They were joined by Judith A. Enck, EPA Region 2 Administrator; and Lisa F. Garcia, EPA Senior Advisor for Environmental Justice.
The goal of environmental justice, a major priority of the Department of Justice and the EPA, is to provide all Americans – regardless of their race, ethnicity or income status – full protection under the nation’s environmental laws and protection from pollution, hazardous waste and toxic substances.
“The people of New Jersey understand the critical importance of environmental protection, and the real world consequences of industrial pollution,” said Assistant Attorney General Moreno. “By enforcing the nation’s environmental laws in a fair and even-handed way, we are taking steps to ensure that we achieve environmental justice. We are listening to communities and giving voice to those that have too frequently suffered an unfair burden from pollution in America.”
“New Jersey has seen an unjust share of environmental damage, and we have the opportunity and obligation to do something about it,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman. “Specific, targeted criminal and civil enforcement actions can make a real difference to our environment - preserving it for those who treasure it and punishing those who break laws that protect it.”
“Enforcement is a powerful tool in advancing environmental justice and deterring illegal pollution,” said Assistant Administrator Giles. “We are aggressively going after pollution problems that make a difference in communities, like keeping raw sewage and contaminated stormwater out of our nation’s waters and cutting toxic air pollution that affects communities’ health.”
“Low income communities across the country have historically shouldered a heavy pollution burden,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “Just because someone lives in a low income neighborhood, they should not be exposed to air pollution, toxic chemicals, degraded water quality or have less access to parks and open space. The EPA is committed to protecting public health and environmental quality in every part of the country. With improved environmental quality should also come opportunities for job creation.”