ATLANTA -- Today and tomorrow, officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are meeting with leaders from the Turkey Creek and North Gulfport communities in Gulfport, Miss. to lay the groundwork for a Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG), an initiative to focus resources from multiple federal agencies to help meet economic, environmental and community needs.
The Turkey Creek and North Gulfport communities, whose settlements pre-date the establishment and incorporation of the city of Gulfport, are united in their efforts to address their environmental and cultural concerns. These two communities have banded together through the Turkey Creek Watershed Partnership to collaboratively address environmental issues on a watershed scale. The team includes over 50 individuals representing more than 20 city, county and state agencies, local and regional non-profit organizations, churches, citizen groups and homeowners. The EJ IWG would expand the effort to include more federal support.
“By combining resources, EPA together with our federal partners can make a real difference,” said Acting EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Anne Heard. “These investments will help Turkey Creek realize its vision for a more sustainable future.”
EPA representatives participated in a resident-led tour today of points of interest in the Forrest Heights, North Gulfport and Turkey Creek communities, including several environmental cleanup sites and areas planned for development. They also sat in on a Turkey Creek Watershed Partnership meeting, and are meeting one-on-one with key leaders to discuss the community’s concerns, including potential environmental degradation associated with infrastructure and commercial development plans, lack of affordable housing and green jobs, and plans for Natural Resource Damage Assessment Funds.
EPA, working alongside its community partners, intends to convene the first community-wide EJ IWG meeting in Turkey Creek during early 2015. The goal of the meeting is to work with other federal agencies to assist with revitalization efforts that will make a visible difference in the communities impacted by potential environmental concerns, blight and degradation. The EJ IWG meeting will include time for the agencies in attendance to share information on resources and technical assistance available to support the needs of Turkey Creek.
The EJ IWG was established in 1994 under Executive Order 12898. It is comprised of 17 federal agencies and White House offices to guide, support, and enhance federal environmental justice and community-based activities. The EJ IWG works to strengthen community access to federal programs and expertise by eliminating barriers, making connections and avoiding duplication.
For more information about Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice, visit:
Connect with EPA Region 4 on Facebook: www.facebook.com/eparegion4
And on Twitter: @EPASoutheast