The federal Environmental Protection Agency has tapped Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway to serve on the agency’s local government advisory board.
Composed of 39 elected and appointed officials from local, state, tribal and territorial governments, the Local Government Advisory Committee provides advice and recommendations to help the EPA develop better partnerships.
Cheryl Newton, the acting administrator for the EPA’s Upper Midwest region, said the agency is fortunate to have the expertise of local leaders like Rhodes-Conway.
“So many environmental concerns including drinking water and air quality, environmental justice, and the redevelopment of contaminated properties, can be addressed only with the participation of local governments,” Newton said in a prepared statement.
Rhodes-Conway said she is honored by the opportunity to “create a healthier and more equitable future for us all.”
“At this moment in history, all mayors must think about how to reinvest in their cities to create more sustainable, resilient, and just communities,” the mayor said.
But environmental justice advocate Maria Powell said despite abundant resources and stated commitment to racial equality, the city has not been a leader in addressing the disparate effects of pollution on minority and low-income residents.
Powell notes the city’s deference to the U.S. military to clean up PFAS contamination at the airport, Starkweather Creek and Lake Monona, exposing subsistence anglers to unnecessary risks from the “forever chemicals,” and Rhodes-Conway’s rejection of calls to establish a task force and do health impact assessments.
“The mayor's rejection of these important requests is not in line with her stated desire to ‘create a healthier and more equitable future for us all,’ Powell said.