Recently, Michael S. Regan, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), visited the city of Houston, with his first stop being Texas Southern University to meet with Dr. Robert Bullard the “father of the environmental justice movement.” Regan then spent time with Mayor Sylvester Turner, touring Kashmere Gardens which has been ground zero for the city’s most recent bouts of environmental racism and eco-damage.
“I’m really excited to be here (at TSU),” said Regan. “I’m inspired that there’s such a dedication on this campus toward environmental justice and equity.”
Regan shared that environmental justice is “part of the DNA of the EPA.”
“We want to partner with the best and brightest minds, and partnerships with HBCUs such as TSU are critical,” he added.
Regan has been on a week-long “Journey to Justice” tour through Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. The tour seeks to shine a spotlight on longstanding environmental justice concerns in historically marginalized communities.
“For anybody that doesn’t believe in environmental justice, I would invite them to travel the path that I just traveled. You will have no mistake that, in 2021, systemic racism is alive and well, and there are examples of how people are living on a daily basis that prove that,” he said.
Bullard, for whom TSU’s Robert D. Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice was named, echoed Regan’s sentiments.
“This is the right time, the right moment for action,” said Bullard. “It’s important that Administrator Regan is here on our campus; it’s no accident, and it says a lot about what we are doing at TSU to advance environmental justice.”
Regan received greetings from TSU President Lesia Crumpton-Young before touring the Third Ward campus and engaging faculty, staff, students and administrators from TSU’s Bullard Center in conversation on the critical nature of environmental and climate justice.
Regan also got to see up close and personal, Houston’s Fifth Ward as he and Bullard joined Mayor Turner on a bus tour of Kashmere Gardens and surrounding communities.
“As Mayor, the people of Houston’s health and safety are my top priorities,” said Turner. “For too long, people – and especially people of color – have been ignored when they have brought up environmental concerns. These injustices have left communities without information, without people fighting for them, and without hope for answers.
“Today, the voices of the people of Kashmere Gardens are being heard by the head of the EPA: Administrator Michael Regan.”
Turner said from the first time he met with Regan, he had one word on his agenda—Kashmere Gardens.
“I requested that he visit Houston and speak with Kashmere residents and tour the neighborhood. As Mayor, I want to thank him for showing up for Houston, showing up for Kashmere Gardens, and for being here today to not just hear from those in elected office, but also from those in the community who have been affected by these environmental risks.”
Turner emphasized that the EPA has been working hand-in-hand with the City of Houston in getting more complete information from Union Pacific regarding the environmental damage done to Kashmere Gardens.
“I want to thank Administrator Michael Regan and his staff for their continuing work,” Turner added.