Rabb participates in environmental justice public hearing

HARRISBURG, Oct. 5 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., participated today in an environmental justice policy hearing held jointly by the PA House Democratic Policy Committee and the Legislative Black Caucus, which highlighted the importance of environmental policy on equity and health in Pennsylvania’s underserved communities.

“I reflect on the efforts of my grandmother who was fighting the environmental justice fight before this term was coined. She was able to keep an incinerator from her all-Black, working-class community while at the same time the city was building a pool in a white neighborhood, a public pool that was not truly accessible to the public, just white folk in the public. From the time she helped close that incinerator and keep it from moving into that community, we’re still talking about this issue over 50 years later,” Rabb said. “Unless we talk about the systemic issues at the root of this, we are not going to move forward.

“We are in this together, it’s so basic, but it’s so important. I want to encourage all of us who live in, work in and represent folk in urban communities to reach out to our rural brothers and sisters who are in the struggle with us. You are not just part of an environmental justice community, you are a part of a community of struggle, and that struggle starts with recognizing the structural inequalities that hurt everyone.”

Rabb has sponsored a bevy of environmental justice related legislation:

  • H.B. 2866, which would establish the Pennsylvania Environmental Justice Policy Center to ensure communities of color and other frontline communities have a seat at the table when decisions are made regarding the location of fossil fuel-producing facilities.
  • H.B. 2256, which would codify the Office of Environmental Justice within the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
  • H.B. 2034, which would codify the Environmental Justice Advisory Board into Pennsylvania law, so it could not be disbanded by a potential future DEP secretary who does not believe in the board’s mission.
  • H.B. 2043, which would require builders of facilities that pollute who are seeking permits to first prepare an environmental impact statement. It would also give DEP the power to deny a permit application if it finds the facility’s impact too negative to approve.
  • H.R. 151, which would recognize the importance of the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit of October 1991, where the 17 principles of environmental justice were first adopted.
  • H.R. 1565, which would reflect Gov. Tom Wolf’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative by supporting workers and communities affected by energy transition, investing in environmental justice communities and further strengthening the state’s growing clean energy and commercial and industrial sectors.
  • H.B. 100, which would transition Pennsylvania to 100% renewable energy by 2050 and create a Just Transition Community Advisory Committee.
  • H.B. 2724, which would mandate greater transparency and accountability for fossil fuel producers relating to the impact of their operations on public infrastructure and local communities.

Rabb is a founding member of the PA Climate Caucus, a board member of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, serves on the National Conference of State Legislators’ Energy Supply Task Force and is a recent graduate of the Center for the New Energy Economy’s Clean Energy Legislative Academy.