Upholding Our Human Right to Live in a Healthy Environment

March 26, 2012
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

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From the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of Alaska, communities are connected by global impacts from environmental contaminants. CHE Alaska hosted this call with nationally recognized environmental justice leader Monique Harden for a discussion of the legal counsel and advocacy support that won groundbreaking environmental justice victories to remedy governmental systems that subject communities to severely toxic environments. Monique is an attorney who specializes in environmental justice concerns in New Orleans, the city where she was raised. She organizes communities who live on the fenceline with polluting industries, using both litigation and advocacy to fight for both economic and environmental justice. Among the victories she can claim is a precedent-setting decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to deny a Clean Air Act permit to a company proposing a new facility in a neighborhood that was 80 percent African American and already surrounded by 12 industrial facilities responsible for 17 million pounds of air pollutants.

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Monique Harden has provided legal counsel and advocacy support that have helped community organizations win important environmental justice   victories. In 2003, Ms. Harden,   along with Nathalie Walker, co-founded Advocates for Environmental Human Rights. Ms.Harden is a graduate of The University of Texas School of Law (1995), and received a bachelor or arts from St. John’s College (1990). Ms. Harden has authored and co-authored numerous reports and papers on environmental justice and human rights issues.Her advocacy work has been featured in television, radio and print news, as well as books, magazines, and documentaries.

Vi Waghiyi, ACAT's Environmental Health and Justice Program director. Vi is a bilingual Yupik Eskimo who was born in Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. Although her family moved to Nome, she grew up in both communities, traveling between Nome and the Island throughout her childhood. In 2010, she was awarded the Environmental Achievement Award in Recognition of Valuable Contributions to Environmental Excellence in Alaska by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. She serves as a National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council member, which advises the director of the National Institute of Health. Vi is sought out repeatedly to speak at national and international meetings about ACAT’s work.