NPCA shared the following position with the House Natural Resources Committee ahead of an anticipated hearing scheduled for October 1st, 2020.
Since 1919, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. On behalf of our more than 1.4 million members and supporters nationwide, we write to applaud numerous provisions of H.R. 5986, the Environmental Justice for All Act. We support the bill’s effort to address long-standing racial and economic disparities in impacts from pollution and climate change and in access and safe enjoyment of the outdoors. We also commend the sponsors’ inclusive process in assembling the bill by soliciting contributions and feedback from affected communities and other stakeholders.
H.R. 5986 is broad, including provisions far beyond NPCA’s expertise. However, in addition to the overarching goal of the bill, to improve equity in the imbalance of environmental ills and opportunities, we’d like to offer support of Sections 11, 12 and 13 that seek more equitable access to parks, outdoor spaces and recreational and educational opportunities. The Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Grant Program importantly supports land and water conservation, recreation, outdoor education and volunteerism. The Transit to Trails Grant Program improves transportation opportunities for critically underserved communities, including by connecting them to federal and non-federal public lands and waters. The bill also extends the life of the Every Kid Outdoors program, which is proving essential in cultivating healthy outdoor educational activities for children and their families. Finally, we also applaud the effort in Section 15 to provide environmental justice training for federal employees including those in the Department of the Interior. This training is needed to further an ethos and understanding of inclusivity and equity in the care and cultivation of our nation’s natural and cultural resources and in impacts of agency actions or inactions on communities.
For these and other reasons, we commend introduction and consideration of this bill, and the many issues of environmental equity it addresses.