5757 S. Staples #3105
Corpus Christi, TX 78413
June 21, 2002
To: Committee of Environment and Public Works (S. 606)
From: Citizens for Environmental Justice (CFEJ)
Dear Committee of EPW,
My name is Suzie Canales with Citizens for Environmental Justice (CFEJ) based in Corpus Christi, Texas.
We are a bipartisan watchdog group residing in a county that is mostly Hispanic and low-income. We live in an industrial City with numerous refineries. Over the last 50 years, Nueces County operated over 40 pre-regulation landfills.
For decades our county has been environmentally over-burdened. We have documentation of high cancer rates as well as high birth defects, yet Local, State and Federal Agencies have dismissed our environmental health concerns conducting studies that were inadequate, misleading and arbitrary.
Government agencies, in this case the EPA, must be held accountable. The only way to ensure that grassroots citizens groups get a fair and impartial review of our disputes with the EPA is to support S. 606. It is imperative that the National Ombudsman has the additional authority S. 606 proposes in order to conduct inquiries into disputes such as ours. This will ensure that the EPA, the agency charged with protecting the environment be held accountable to the people who turn to them with environmental concerns. If there is no effective accountability system in place, I can assure you it is not the EPA who will suffer, it is the people affected.
It is imperative that Robert Martin be reinstated with all the authority proposed in S.606. In our corner of the world, this would insure that our community would at last get a fair investigation that we deserve.
Therefore, we respectfully request that the Committee of Environment and Public Works, support S. 606.