Grassroots Metro East organization secures environmental injustice meeting with feds

Empire 13 to meet with EPA, DOJ, US senator
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:33 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - A grassroots organization in the Metro East will be meeting with federal authorities to address environmental injustice.

JD Dixon, founder of Empire 13, an organization addressing racial and social injustice, confirmed with News 4 that a meeting is in the works with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice and U.S. Senator for Illinois Tammy Duckworth’s Office.

Dixon has been raising concerns over flood-prone areas and illegal dumping in East St. Louis. Empire 13 has hosted several cleanup campaigns addressing illegal dumping.

Historic flooding across the Metro last June left a neighborhood in East St. Louis at Terrace Drive and State Street underwater for several days. Neighbors and officials have told News 4 on many occasions that the neighborhood often floods.

Dixon said Illinois Senator Chris Belt helped get initial conversations started regarding a meeting. The Department of Justice recently established an Environmental Justice division to address issues like illegal dumping and flooding in underserved communities.

“Honestly, East St. Louis--that’s where my family is from. That’s home and a historic home for so many people,” Dixon said. “I don’t want to see people moved out of East St. Louis. I want to see the resources allocated to East St. Louis that’s been needed for decades--to fix the infrastructure--to fix the environmental injustice issues, and just fix the issues within East St. Louis. Those resources can be allocated to East St. Louis.”

U.S. Representative for Illinois Nikki Budzinski recently told News 4 the U.S. EPA allocated $100 million for underserved communities. She encouraged cities like East St. Louis and organizations to apply for those funds to address environmental issues like flooding.

Duckworth’s Office told News 4, “The Senator’s office is always open to listening to and working with Illinoisans in the Metro East to improve their communities.”