Monday, March 06, 2017

'Just Racist':  EPA Cuts Will Hit Black and Hispanic Communities the Hardest

Percy Walker looks out over a desolate Uniontown, Alabama, on 11 August 2016. A report found the EPA allowed coal ash to be dumped in a landfill in the town. (Photograph Credit: Jay Reeves/AP) Click to Enlarge.
Donald Trump’s administration is proposing a 25% reduction in the EPA’s $8.1bn budget, eliminating nearly 3,000 jobs and several programs including the agency’s environmental justice office.  Funding for the cleanup of lead, marine pollution, tribal lands and the Great Lakes region faces severe cuts, while climate initiatives are earmarked for a 70% budget reduction.

The environmental justice office is tasked with bridging the yawning disparity in pollution experienced by black, Hispanic and low-income communities and wealthier white neighborhoods.  It provides grants to communities to mop up toxins and rehabilitate abandoned industrial facilities that are invariably found in poorer areas.

In the final months of Barack Obama’s administration, the EPA unveiled a new effort to tackle lead poisoning, air pollution and other problems suffered by communities of color situated next to waste treatment plants, smelters and other sources of toxins.  But this plan will be cut down in its infancy should the environmental justice office be dismantled.

“The Trump administration has decided fence-line communities across the country, whose residents already bear an outsized burden from pollution, are on their own to take on big polluters,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization.

“Most pollution-spewing operations are within eyeshot of the backyards and kitchen windows of African American and Hispanic families, as well as those of many largely white lower-income communities.

“Through this decision to zero out funding for the EPA’s environmental justice programs, the president and the administrator have sent a shameful message:  the health of poor Americans is less important than that of the wealthy.”

Read more at 'Just Racist': EPA Cuts Will Hit Black and Hispanic Communities the Hardest

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