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Biden appoints Cincinnatian to White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council

U.S EPA Region 5 Administrator in front of the now-vacant Lunkenheimer Valve Building in South Fairmount.
Becca Costello
Tanner Yess (fifth from the left) and U.S EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore (center, red jacket) recently toured the Lick Run Greenway in South Fairmount, and got a view of the now-vacant Lunkenheimer Valve Building, a brownfield site.

President Joe Biden has appointed a Cincinnatian as one of a dozen members of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

Tanner Yess is executive director of the nonprofit Groundwork Ohio River Valley, which leads one of the nation's largest green workforce teams for youth.

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Yess says his appointment is proof of how successful local sustainability efforts have been.

"This is because of the city's Office of Environment and Sustainability, Green Umbrella, so many other partners around the Green Cincinnati Plan and Climate Safe Neighborhoods," Yess told WVXU. "The green workforce, particularly with the city, has stood up nationally so much, because it's kind of a systems change. It centers around a city backing a Youth Environmental Justice green workforce, and that's been a game-changer and a system-changer."

President Biden first established the Environmental Justice Advisory Council about three years ago. Yess says he's excited to learn from other members of the advisory council, which includes members from Tennessee, Florida, Texas, Michigan, the Choctaw Nation, and more.

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Yess says this advisory council is one of the main drivers of the Justice 40 Initiative, "which is directing 40% of all federal money through the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure law ... giving more representation and more access to these under-represented neighborhoods that have been more impacted, whether it's folks of color or low income or tribal areas," Yess said. "It's really changed the game for us."

Groundwork Ohio River Valley will kickoff the Green Team's work for the summer on Monday, June 3 at the ARCO in Price Hill.

Yess will soon transition into a job as chief officer of youth and workforce for the national Groundwork organization, but he's staying in Cincinnati and will still be involved with the Ohio River Valley chapter.

Groundwork ORV is accepting applications for a new executive director.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.