The EPA defines environmental justice as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. As NOAA employees, we must ensure that one group does not bear a disproportionate share of negative environmental consequences resulting from our work.
To explore the topic and better understand OR&R’s role in it, three guest speakers shared their thoughts from various perspectives -- two within NOAA and one from outside the agency. Marty McCoy, attorney-advisor for the NOAA Office of General Counsel Oceans and Coasts Section, provided an agency-wide view of the legal aspects that integrate environmental justice considerations for the work we do. Albert George, Director of Conservation with the South Carolina Aquarium, spoke about their efforts to work with native Gullah/Geechee (descendants of slaves) communities to mitigate impacts to climate change through the Resilience Initiative for Coastal Education (RICE). Simeon Hahn, Mid-Atlantic Regional Resource Coordinator for OR&R, highlighted the Office’s involvement with the Urban Water Federal Partnership, NOAA Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program (DARRP), NOAA North Atlantic Regional Team, and restoration projects that incorporate environmental justice considerations.