Next in Series of Hearings Investigating Plastic Production and Pollution

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, June 15 at 10:00 am Eastern, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley will chair a subcommittee hearing to examine the public health and environmental impacts of plastic production and disposal on environmental justice communities. This hearing is the next in a series of hearings Merkley is holding in the Subcommittee on Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice, and Regulatory Oversight that will investigate plastic production and pollution and its effects on human health, the climate, and the environment.

“Plastics are everywhere across our society, and it’s frontline communities bearing the brunt of the toxic pollution and dangers from plastic production,” said Sen. Merkley, who is chairing a series of hearings investigating plastic production and disposal. “Plastics produce greenhouse gas emissions and release toxins throughout their entire life span. It’s not enough to just increase recycling to address production if we are going to protect overlooked and underdeveloped frontline communities. We need to listen to those being impacted, and this hearing will give EJ communities a voice and platform to share their experiences.”

Live video of Thursday’s hearing will be provided on the Environment and Public Works Committee’s WebsiteTwitter, and YouTube

Thursday’s hearing on plastics’ effect on environmental justice communities will feature testimony from residents of frontline communities who are also researchers, volunteers and advocates to protect their communities. Witnesses will include: Angell Bradford, Doctoral student in physiology and medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine, Volunteer Sierra Club Delta Chapter; Sharon Lavigne, Founder, Rise St. James; and Chris Tandazo, Director of Government Affairs, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance.

Merkley has led the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, which would reduce plastic production, increase recycling, and protect frontline communities from the burden of toxic emissions from plastic waste by changing the incentives of the industry. The bill would shift the burden of cleanup to the corporations that produced the plastics so they have financial motivation to end the burning and dumping; strengthen environmental justice protections; eliminate waste export loopholes; and extend across the nation existing laws that have been proven to work on the state and local level, among other steps.