Deputy Under Secretary Butch Blazer delivers the keynote address at the 2014 Environmental Justice Conference in Washington, DC. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols
Late last month, I was privileged to deliver the keynote address at the 2014 National Environmental Justice Conference here in Washington.
Environmental justice is “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”
USDA was one of the first federal agencies identified in the 1994 Executive Order on Environmental Justice (EJ) from former President Bill Clinton due to the broad sweep of the department’s agencies with respect to the environment. The department developed an EJ Strategic Plan and promulgated a Departmental EJ Regulation in 1997. Read more »
Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Arthur “Butch” Blazer moderating a panel on forest health at the 2014 Agricultural Outlook Forum. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.
Agroforestry. When you think of a forest, you don’t think of it in terms of a crop, but in many cases that’s what it is. The house you live in, the nuts and fruit you eat all comes from trees. Trees, with their root systems protect soils and soften the effects of wind. They help hold water.
The Forest Products industry contributes 4.5 percent of U.S. manufacturing’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), produces $200 billion in products a year, provides jobs for nearly 900,000 people and is one of the top ten manufacturers in 47 states. No forests, no nuts, no windbreaks, no topsoil. Read more »
May 2nd dawned a majestic spring day in the Rocky Mountains of southwestern Colorado as rural and tribal stakeholders from the Four Corners region descended upon the San Juan National Forest Headquarters to learn more about USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative. Participants traveled from New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and the east coast to discuss strategies to help USDA deliver its programs more successfully in persistently poor rural areas. Read more »
As part of President Obama’s commitment to honoring Government-to-Government relationships with Tribal Nations, the federal government is continuing to strengthen its relationships in Indian Country. The Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Defense, Interior, and Energy joined the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation and released an action plan to implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding interagency coordination and collaboration for the protection of Indian Sacred Sites.
Last week during the National Congress of American Indian’s (NCAI) Executive Council Winter Session, USDA Deputy Undersecretary, Arthur “Butch” Blazer, announced that he will help lead USDA’s efforts for the implementation of the MOU. Due to his expertise Blazer is the ideal choice to lead the USDA component of the Action Plan. Prior to his position at USDA, Blazer served as the New Mexico State Forester where he was the first Native American to hold that position. During his tenure as State Forester, he was also named as Chair of the Council of Western State Foresters and Co-Chair for the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition. A member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, he was also his tribe’s lead forestry official and has been intimately involved in Tribal issues throughout his life. Read more »
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center employee Bahe Rock gives the blessing at USDA's Native American Heritage Month Observance in the Jefferson Auditorium at the USDA South Building in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012.
I was honored last week to participate in the annual Native American Heritage Month observance at USDA’s Jefferson Auditorium. A near-capacity crowd watched as the Vietnam Era Veterans Intertribal Association presented the colors. That gesture was especially fitting, given this year’s theme of “Serving with Honor, Pride and Devotion: Country, Land and People.”
Following the blessing, given by Bahe Rock of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources Arthur “Butch” Blazer, a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, read a letter of support on behalf of Secretary Vilsack and noted that “When President Obama issued a proclamation designating November as Native American Heritage Month, it made me proud to be an American and a Native American.” He spoke of the continuing efforts of the Secretary to promote diversity in hiring at USDA. Read more »
A truck is filled with wood chips as part of the process of turning wood into energy
Cross posted from the White House CEQ blog:
Across rural America, biomass like wood pellets and wood chips is helping communities diversify their energy sources, create jobs, and save money on utility bills. At the Forest Service, we are working to support biomass projects that help us manage wildfire threats, and also serve as economic engines for rural communities. Last week, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced grants of $4 million for renewable wood energy projects that will provide 20 small businesses, tribes and community groups with the technical engineering and design services they need to explore installing wood heat and electricity projects. Read more »