Vi Waghiyi, environmental health and justice program director for Alaska Community Action on Toxics, has been named to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
Waghiyi, a Yupik grandmother and tribal citizen of the Native Village of Savoonga on Sivuqaq, or St. Lawrence Island, has worked for ACAT since 2002.
The advisory council is tasked with providing advice and recommendations to the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council on how to address current and historic environmental injustices.
The appointments were announced on March 29.
As the only Alaskan among 26 people appointed to the advisory council, Waghiyi is expected to be a significant voice for Alaska Native people and Arctic indigenous peoples in general. “We don’t want more promises,” Waghiyi said. “We want real actions to achieve environmental justice, enforcement and to hold industry and military polluters accountable.”
Waghiyi also serves as a member of the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council to the National Institute of Health.
Vice President Kamala Harris said that the council will ensure that the Biden administration’s work on environmental justice is informed by the insights, expertise and lived experience of environmental justice leaders from across the nation.