Charles Lee, an Environmental Justice activist and the senior policy advisor in the Office of Environmental Justice at the EPA will be the keynote speaker at the 20th Annual National Environmental Conference at Tar Creek Sept. 25-26.

MIAMI – If you get onto the website, read the newsletters or any other materials produced by the Local Environmental Action Demanded (LEAD) Agency, Inc., an environmental group with offices in Vinita and Miami, Okla., you might wonder why LEAD uses the title Environmental Justice organization or why they say Ottawa County fits the definition of an Environmental Justice area.

On Sept. 25-26, at the NEO College Student Union, beginning at 9 a.m. both days LEAD will host their 20th Annual National Environmental Conference at Tar Creek. On Tuesday, Sept. 25, the keynote speaker will be Charles Lee, an Environmental Justice activist and the senior policy advisor in the Office of Environmental Justice at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Previously, he served as the director of the Office of Environmental Justice, and before that, he was the director of the Environmental Justice Program at the United Church of Christ for 15 years.

In 1987, the United Church of Christ released a report entitled Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States, of which Lee was the principal author. The report has been described as "groundbreaking" and as "the first report to use rigorous analysis and methods to show how pollution and environmental hazards were disproportionately affecting minority and low-income communities."* It had a much more rapid impact than Lee had anticipated: within six years, all of its recommendations had been implemented.

At the conference on the 25, Lee will discuss the progress of the EJ movement and concerns about the Tar Creek Superfund Site. He will also be available for questions.

"LEAD Agency is very excited to have one of the founders of the Environmental Justice movement coming to celebrate our 20th conference with us. I hope everyone that can come will, as this will be an important and inspiring event and Mr. Lee will have a lot to say of vital importance," said Rebecca Jim, Exec. Director and Tar Creekkeeper, LEAD.

"It is rare that Oklahoma gets a speaker of Mr. Lee's experience here and I am looking forward to his visit. Oklahoma has suffered many environmental injustices, of which the Tar Creek Superfund Site is one. I hope his visit will help inspire both hope and action toward making change in how investigations and cleanup is handled in our state for the protection of our citizens." said Earl Hatley, Grand Riverkeeper, LEAD.

For more information, please contact LEAD Agency at or

*Morrison, Dianne See (2009-11-01). "Rallying Point: Charles Lee's Long-Standing Career in Environmental Justice". American Journal of Public Health. 99 (Suppl 3): S508–S510. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.178590. ISSN 0090-0036. PMC 2774201 . PMID 19890149