Photo Jorge Roman-Romero

Jorge Roman-Romero

  • Hosted by Midwest Environmental Advocates, Inc.
  • Sponsored by The Brico Foundation
  • Service location Madison, Wisconsin
  • Law school The University of Tulsa College of Law
  • Issue area Environmental Justice, Racial Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Through regulatory advocacy, direct representation, and public awareness campaigns, Jorge (he/him/his) will advocate for disadvantaged communities in Wisconsin facing disproportionate exposure to toxic pollutants from contaminated water, particularly PFAS exposure.

The United States has a national drinking water crisis disproportionately affecting low-income communities and communities of color. Across the country, disadvantaged communities are vulnerable to exposure to water contaminated with a group of toxic and persistent synthetic chemicals known as per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that at least two types of PFAS were detected in at least one public water system in 24 states. In Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources confirmed the presence of PFAS in sediment and surface water at the EPA-designated Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern, which covers portions of the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic Rivers. Vulnerable communities at risk of suffering severe health repercussions of toxic exposure need a comprehensive advocacy response to defend their right to safe drinking water.

Fellowship Plans

Jorge will employ a multi-pronged strategy to advocate for safe drinking water to mitigate the health risks associated with PFAS exposure. Jorge will amplify the voices of vulnerable communities through Wisconsin’s rulemaking process and develop a strong administrative record to urge for a reasoned regulatory response. He will also monitor and engage with federal regulatory developments that may affect state regulations. Jorge will develop educational materials on the risks of toxic exposure and promote local activism to spur statewide water testing. Finally, he will work with affected individuals to assess whether direct legal action is needed to seek redress.

Environmental justice is ultimately about removing barriers to allow for equal protection under a democratic government and fair competition under a market economy. Through this fellowship, I want to amplify the voices of marginalized communities facing disproportionate legal and economic burdens. I want to foster equal access to the decision-making process allowing for a healthy environment in which people can thrive regardless of socioeconomic status or skin color.

Jorge Roman-Romero /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Jorge

View All

Photo of Idalmis Vaquero

Idalmis Vaquero

Host: Communities for a Better Environment

Sponsor: Stern-Hughes Family Fund, The Ottinger Family Foundation

Current Fellow

Photo of Jina Kim

Jina Kim

Host: Communities for a Better Environment

Sponsor: The Clorox Company

Current Fellow

Mekela Panditharatne

Host: Natural Resources Defense Council

Sponsor: Anonymous

Photo of Roz Dillon

Roz Dillon

Host: Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Sponsor: The Lavan Harris Family

Current Fellow