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Rep. Gallego's Amendment on Environmental Justice

June 25, 2015

Rep. Gallego's Amendment to HR 2822 on Environmental Justice:

Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
Mr. Chairman,

My amendment will help ensure that all communities are able to participate in the decisions that shape their National Park System.

Environmental justice is defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people—regardless of race, color, national, origin, or income—with respect to our nation’s environmental laws and policies.

This amendment represents an important step toward that goal.

The NPS has a robust Planning, Environment and Public Comment database and web site, known as PEPC (say “pepsi”).
This website is used for consultation and providing information on planning issues such as management plans, construction projects, environmental assessments, and environmental impact statements.

This website is how the users of the National Park Service can participate in NPS decision-making.

Unfortunately, however, PEPC is only available in English.

No Spanish…

None of the Asian languages spoken by the fastest-growing segment of our population…

No indigenous languages.

To address this shortcoming, my amendment will provide $1 million to update PEPC. This funding will provide translation of the contents of PEPC to the public, the ability of the public to provide input into PEPC in the most commonly spoken languages, and informing affected communities of the improvements.

Mr. Chairman, America is becoming more diverse every day and our land management agencies must adapt.

It’s critical that new and growing communities can access our public lands and services.

They are the new users and stewards that federal land management agencies such as the National Park Service must engage as it prepares for its Centennial.

To reach these Americans, the NPS will need improved tools to clearly communicate with people who may struggle to comprehend materials in English.

That’s exactly what my amendment is intended to accomplish.

This measure will also help the Park Service and the Department of Interior to achieve their performance benchmarks.

One of the key measures of the Department’s environmental justice outcomes is outreach to minority and underserved communities.

Executive Order 13116 states that all federal agencies shall provide access to services for persons with limited English proficiency.

By offering a web interface in multiple languages, NPS will increase its relevance to minority communities and help the Department of Interior to make progress towards this important requirement.

Mr. Chairman, we can all agree that engaging the public on important decisions that affect their communities is a lynchpin of our system of government.

When all communities are afforded access to the decision-making process, we improve the outcomes of those decisions, and we strengthen our democracy.

I hope all Members will join me in supporting this critical amendment and I yield back.