Today is an important day for environmental justice communities across the country. Through this hearing titled “Environmental Justice and the Toxics Release Inventory Reporting Program: Communities Have a Right to Know,

For decades, minority and underserved communities have been forced to live in close proximity to industrial zones, power plants, and toxic waste sites. Across this country 5.5 million Latinos and 68 percent of all African Americans live within the range where health impacts from coal powered plants are the most severe and over 70 percent of African Americans and Latinos live in counties that violate federal air pollution standards. As a result, the health of these communities has been compromised.

Today’s hearing is another demonstration of our commitment to environmental justice communities. Today their fight and plight becomes public and their voices will be heard on the importance of protections for minority and low-income communities and community right to know.

This hearing must be the first step – not the last. Just as I have before, I will continue to fight for environmental justice communities and I am certain my Democratic colleagues will join me. Because absent a real commitment to environmental justice, the health and welfare of these communities will continue to suffer.