Aug. 20, 2002 – The National Environmental Policy Commission will hold a "listening session" next Monday via a teleconference link between the St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses of the University of the Virgin Islands. Members of the agency want to hear what Virgin Islanders think about issues involving health and the environment.
"The environment has a greater role than we recognize in the health status of people," Delegate Donna M. Christensen said, and the commission is gathering information on the links between them.
The commission came about as a result of recommendations made by the congressional Environmental Justice Braintrust under the leadership of U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D., South Carolina). "The environmental factors that exist in greater concentration around low-income and minority communities remain a source of concern without simple answers," Clyburn said. "How these environmental factors impact our health and what can be done to minimize those impacts warrants the development of comprehensive policy that addresses both concerns."
Anyone wishing to comment can do so between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 110 of the Business Administration Building on the St. Thomas campus or Room 401 of the Evans Center on the St. Croix campus. Each individual will have three minutes in which to present a prepared statement on issues and recommendations. Christensen said there is no need to schedule appearances in advance. "Just show up," she said.
Testimony received will go into a report, she said, and the commission's policy recommendations will be forwarded to the appropriate agencies.
The commission consists of representatives of business and industry, health organizations, academia, environmental justice communities, labor organizations and tribal, state and local governments. UVI President LaVerne Ragster and Virgin Islander Jennifer Friday, who has held policy positions with national agencies, are members, Christensen said.
Elena Shaubah, a staff member in Christensen's St. Croix office, said she expects 10 commission members to be in the Virgin Islands for the listening session, some on each campus.
For more information on the listening session, call Shaubah at 778-5900.
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