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State’s first in-person Environmental Justice conference kicks off in Detroit today

Michigan’s first in-person Michigan Environmental Justice Conference kicks off this morning in Detroit with roughly 250 attendees primed to discuss how to advance EJ principles throughout the state.

The two-day sold-out conference theme is “Advancing Environmental Justice: Working Together Toward Progress.” It is hosted by the Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate, the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice, the Michigan Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

The conference, at the University of Detroit-Mercy campus brings together roughly 250 attendees including environmental justice advocates, community members, business leaders, and government officials. It is the state’s second conference focused on achieving environmental justice and follows the first conference, held virtually in 2021.

Dr. Jalonne White-Newsome, senior director of environmental justice at the White House Council on Environmental Quality will give the opening keynote address.  Additional speakers include U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore, University of Detroit-Mercy President Donald Taylor and Regina Strong of the state’s Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate.

Members of the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice and the state’s interagency environmental justice response team will participate in the conference, along with speakers from communities, academia, the private sector and local, state and federal government.

“As we work to address environmental injustice in our state this conference stands as an opportunity to discuss strategies for working together to have meaningful impact for communities across the state,” said Strong, the state’s environmental justice public advocate. “The time is now for us to ensure equity as we address climate and incorporate justice as we address issues that can be solved together with community, advocates, industry and government working together.  This is such an important two days.”

The Michigan Environmental Justice Conference features sessions on a wide range of topics including federal and state priorities, energy burden, justice issues, strategies for addressing environmental injustices and working together across sectors.  It will attract environmental justice advocates, community members, government representatives, academia, change agents and the business sector.

The Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate was created by Gov. Whitmer's Executive Order 2019-06 to serve as an external and internal advocate and catalyst for addressing environmental justice throughout the state. The Office operates as a Type I agency within EGLE, with a direct line to the governor’s office to elevate concerns and coordinate across state government. The Office also works to address and resolve environmental justice concerns and complaints and advance environmental justice and equity in Michigan.

Follow conference highlights via the Twitter hashtag #MiEJConf.