Magazine article The Nation's Health

Bridges between Federal Agencies Can Help Meet Environmental Justice Goals

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Bridges between Federal Agencies Can Help Meet Environmental Justice Goals

Article excerpt

Access to essential preventive and health care services in safe community environments is fundamental to a strong America. Healthy people and sustainable communities are essential for economic vitality. Unfortunately, a significant number of Americans with limited access to comprehensive health services also live in communities where environmental and economic conditions are major challenges.

Federal agencies are advancing healthy and sustainable communities by creating "bridges" between agencies. For example, the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice has stimulated the development of federal agency strategies to advance health and environmental protection in overburdened, underserved and historically underrepresented populations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Environmental Justice Strategy identifies these comprehensive health services as an essential element. Further, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities--comprising the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency--is advancing transportation options and affordable housing that address health disparities.

An important initiative to address not only health care access but also environmental conditions would be Congress' authorization of $11 billion via the Health Resources and Services Administration for new and expanded health centers. The buying power of this $11 billion can be significantly enhanced if the roll-out of these health centers is aligned with environmental initiatives.

EPA's Brownfields Program provides funding and technical assistance for the expansion, re-use and redevelopment of real property that may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. …

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