DOJ Officials Speak at White House Forum on Environmental Justice
By Stephanie Woodrow | December 15, 2010 1:54 pm

Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency officials spoke at the White House Forum on Environmental Justice (WhiteHouse.gov)

Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno said Wednesday the Justice Department hasn’t sent enough of its staffers into communities to work one-on-one with people.

Moreno and Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez were among six panelists discussing enforcement and compliance efforts at the White House Forum on Environmental Justice.  The panel followed remarks by Attorney General Eric Holder.

During the discussion, Moreno said that although environment justice is “critically important…one of the things we [at DOJ] haven’t done is send our lawyers out in the community to talk one-on-one.” She went on to say that working with residents, local leaders and communities is essential to making strides in environmental justice.

In the future, Moreno continued, “you’re going to be seeing more of our lawyers talking to you” in community settings. She added that it is essential to have career lawyers working with communities to ensure that, once DOJ officials leave an area, there is someone who remains to continue their work.

“We come and go on the political level, but you need to have career people who are always going to be there,” she said. “It’s going to take time, but we have the commitment.”

Another key component to improving environmental justice is getting corporate counsel to be more social responsible, Moreno said. “They need to think about what the needs of the community are,” she said. “They need to be good neighbors.”

Moreno emphasized the collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, saying, “We are more embedded with our colleagues with EPA than ever before.”

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