Enrique Manzanilla, USEPA’s Director of Community and Ecosystem’s Division (CED) discussed the efficacy of regulations to curtail environmental hazards with IJJ fellows and described the agency’s responsibilities and achievements.

“We can always improve,” he said  regarding the current regulations.

Combined efforts are performed by the CED, Manzanilla said, such as integrating EJ to their agenda, cleaning up sites and providing funds. Enforcement is also paramount and developing rules.

Manzanilla stressed the need for CED to  improve the work of co-regulators and working with communities also.

The example in West Oakland is compelling. Greater rates of premature births, low birth weight, poverty, diabetes, strokes and cancer are some of the burden that this African American community bares. On average, members of the area are dying 15 years sooner than white residents of Oakland Hills.

The asthma rates increased from 1998 to 2001 and lead poisoning in the Alameda county is the highest in the country.  Currently, 9,000 trucks travel emitting diesel fuel emissions and the port emissions will double in the next ten years, he said.

CED’s funding to communities have increased to about half million dollars, he noted and they’ve involved local agencies like the City of Oakland and the Ports of Authority to expedite their goals.  The City has adopted new truck routes to protect citizens from diesel emissions among other accomplishments.

CED targeted the Torres Martinez reservation for evaluation, Manzanilla also said. A few residents were dumping garbage and profiting from it  in the densely populated, trailer park community.  CED assessed the problem and transported these hazardous household wastes to the correct waste processing facilities.

The South Air District and the tribal government contributed to CED’s initiatives.

CED was able to enforce the clean up invoking a provision in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCD). The RCD doesn’t require municipalities to remove these wastes. They’re bigger and have allocated dumps. Reservations don’t.