The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will spend more than $40,000 on hotel accommodations for an "Environmental Justice" conference this fall.
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), Office of Enforcement and Compliance, Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) intends to award a fixed-price Purchase Order … to the Renaissance Arlington Local Capital View Hotel," the solicitation said. "The purpose of this acquisition is to cover the cost of 195 sleeping room nights from Sept. 9 [to] Oct 2, 2014, at government rate for the 50th public meeting of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), a federal advisory committee of the EPA."
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The government per diem rate for lodging is $219 for September. If the EPA receives the per diem rate, the cost will come to $42,705 for the duration of their stay.
The NEJAC was established in 1993 to "obtain independent, consensus advice and recommendations from a broad spectrum of stakeholders involved in environmental justice."
The council meets twice a year, bringing together members from community organizations, businesses, academic institutions, and state and local governments for "discussions about integrating environmental justice into EPA priorities and initiatives."
The EPA defines "Environmental Justice" as the "fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies."
The council will give recommendations to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. The group’s latest recommendation outlined "critical elements for conducting public participation and identified core values and guiding principles for the practice of public participation."
The panel advised the EPA to "meet people where they are" when engaging in the community, and identified "language and cultural differences," "lack of cultural competency," and "lack of trust" among the community as barriers to Environmental Justice.
Past meetings included presentations on "blocks to sustainability and environmental justice," health disparities, climate change, and grant writing.
Other presentations were entitled, "Effective use of Large Scale use of Large Scale Campus and Community Projects to Engage Environmental Justice while Promoting the Green Economy," and "Developing Sustainable Partnerships to Create Sustainable Communities."
The EPA also awards small grants as part of the Environmental Justice program, which included a project surveying old decaying septic systems in Puerto Rico, and taught teens in Brooklyn how to compost last year.
The program has awarded over $23 million in grants since 1994.
Update Sunday, June 29: This story originally reported that the EPA needed 195 rooms over 24 days. The EPA actually needed 195 room nights over 24 days. We regret the error. The story has been updated to reflect the accurate numbers.