Featured Citizen Action

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  • Dear Mayor Johnson and City Council

    Next week the City Council has an opportunity to give residents an effective voice by reinstating the Environmental Health Commission as part of the City ‘s new Climate Plan.

    Born out of the hard-fought environmental justice lead smelter fights of the 1970’s and 80’s in East Oak Cliff and West Dallas, the Commission was established by the Council to promote “an environment where the health and well-being of the citizens of Dallas are of paramount importance…” No other City commission, board or department has ever been created the same way or been given the same charge.

    For many years the Commission was a forum for concerned citizens like Shingle Mountain’s Marsha Jackson to voice their concerns before they became multi-million dollar public health disasters. We need it back now, as we deal with a pandemic exposing all of the environmental health “pre-conditions” in Southern Dallas that make its residents more vulnerable to its effects.

    Study after study has chronicled the disproportionate impact the COVID virus is having among Black and Brown populations and linked poor air quality to higher virus mortality rates. The COVID virus is tragic proof that environmental health IS public health, and right now the city of Dallas has no official vehicle to address either. That’s unacceptable in 2020.

    Yet, in its current form, the Climate Plan doesn’t include the Health Commission, despite it being historically the most successful and equitable process at City Hall for addressing constituent environmental health concerns. A climate plan that ignores public health concerns cannot in fairness call itself ‘comprehensive’.

    Including the Health Commission as part of the Climate Plan would give greater proactive power to citizens to reduce environmental problems and inequities city staff seem unequipped or unwilling to address.

    Only last Spring, a majority of 10 current Council Members stated their support for the Environmental Health Commission as part of the Dallas Green Alliance municipal election questionnaire. We’re asking you to follow through now that the need for such a Commission is even greater.

    This is important to me and Dallas. Please do the right thing and vote to bring back the Environmental Health Commission next week.