Longstanding environmental and economic inequalities in American society have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the US House Natural Resources committee which held a roundtable with members of Congress and expert witnesses in hopes of figuring how Congress should respond.
The Environmental Justice Community Impacts From the Coronavirus Health and Economic Crisis roundtable discussion was led by Committee Chair Raul Grijalva and Representatives Deb Haaland, Donald Mc Eachin and Alan Lowenthal.
Grijalva and McEachin co-authored the Environmental Justice for All Act which was introduced in February. This was followed by a letter with 41 House Democratic colleagues on March 26, urging House and Senate leaders to account for underlying health and economic disparities across the country in crafting future COVID-19 response bills.
The letter states, “The effects of COVID-19 are being felt across the country, but they are particularly acute in communities with underlying health conditions. We are concerned that environmental justice communities – low-income communities, communities of color, and Tribal and indigenous communities – across the U.S. and in the U.S. territories are especially vulnerable and live in areas that lack the necessary resources to fully recover from the pandemic.”
This roundtable discussion is ahead of a second roundtable set for early Thursday morning Guam time which is to be led by Grijalva, CMNI Congressman Gregorio Sablan, and Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas.
The focus of the discussion will be how Congress can address serious problems with the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19 in Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.