News and Press Releases

Justice Department And Epa Officials Discuss Black Warrior River And Environmental Justice In Birmingham

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 18, 2011

BIRMINGHAM -- The chief environmental enforcement official from the U.S. Department of Justice will visit Birmingham on Wednesday. Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno will join U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, EPA Regional Administrator Gwen Keyes Fleming, and Birmingham Division FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick Maley in meetings with federal enforcement partners and other stakeholders, including environmental organizations and community groups.

Among other meetings in Birmingham, Assistant Attorney General Moreno, U.S. Attorney Vance, EPA Regional Administrator Fleming and FBI SAC Maley will participate in a public listening session in Ensley to discuss environmental challenges, including issues affecting the Black Warrior River basin. State and local officials, including the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, have been invited to attend the listening session.

“The recent listing of the Black Warrior as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers highlights the importance of and the need for federal enforcement actions within this watershed, which provides drinking water for much of northern Alabama,” U.S. Attorney Vance said. “We hope to hear the candid concerns of the community and develop a better understanding of environmental justice concerns within the watershed.”

“I look forward to meeting with our partners in law enforcement, and with those in the community to discuss the impact of pollution in Alabama and the critical importance of environmental protection,” said Assistant Attorney General Moreno. “By vigorously enforcing the nation’s environmental laws, we are protecting the air, water, land, and the wildlife that Alabamians enjoy, including in the Black Warrior watershed. More broadly, we are seeking to make environmental justice a reality by reaching out to communities and taking their concerns into account as we enforce the law.”

“EPA has a long and effective history of working in the Black Warrior Watershed to protect public health and the environment. We look forward to hearing directly from Alabamians on key environmental issues that impact the places where they live, work, play and learn, to ensure that all communities have a seat at the table,” said EPA Regional Administrator Fleming.

Assistant Attorney General Moreno leads the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. She is a leading practitioner in the field of environmental and natural resources law, with more than two decades of experience in both the public and private sectors.

Environmental justice is a major priority of the Department of Justice and the EPA, 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 listening session will be held in Ensley, a western Birmingham neighborhood along Village Creek, a 44-mile waterway that runs from its headwaters in eastern Birmingham to the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River. Flooding and pollution for decades have plagued the creek and many inner-city residents who live near it.

The meeting is scheduled at 10 a.m. at the East Ensley Branch of the Birmingham Public Library, 900 14th St., Ensley. Take I-59/20 Exit 120 onto 20th St., Ensley, and turn right at Avenue I. Go six blocks to 14th Street. The library is on the corner.

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