The cover photograph featured two African American girls at the head of one of the landmark Warren County PCB marches.
The EPA plan pledged to tailor its rulemaking, permitting and enforcement powers to reduce disparities in communities already “overburdened” with lead exposure, poor drinking water and air quality and hazardous waste.
Jackson asks what catastrophes might have been averted had national media outlets stepped in sooner—and why it took so long for the Flint water crisis to become a story worthy of national attention.
The Environmental Protection Agency approved the site in 1979, granting waivers from certain groundwater and liner protections.
Angry residents hired a soil expert who said the groundwater would indeed be contaminated by the waste oil.
The crisis began in April 2014, and was covered diligently by local press from the outset; Jackson details local reports of resident complaints, community meetings and protests.
Yet it was not until March 2015—nearly a year after complaints began—that national media began to pay some attention.
When they do act, they make easy choices and outsource any environmental justice responsibilities onto others.”I’m not certain if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is incompetent or indifferent when it comes to requiring environmental justice from polluters of minority communities, but whatever the case, the result is the same.
The EPA has failed miserably in its mandate to protect communities of color from environmental hazards.
That began a legal resistance that led to a temporary halt to construction and a 1982 federal lawsuit filed by a county chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The NAACP alleged that the site was picked because of its racial makeup., titled, “Dumping on the Poor,” still celebrated “the marriage of civil rights activism with environmental concerns,” and the “broadening of the traditionally white, upper middle-class environmental movement.” The editorial said, “blacks and whites in depressed Warren County are right not to let the bureaucrats and technicians invoke studies as some kind of cloak of immunity.” That editorial signaled that there might be a marriage between the national press and environmental assaults on African Americans and poor people. Just five years after the Warren County protests, the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice published a landmark report that found that people of color were far more likely than white Americans to reside near hazardous waste sites. President Clinton tried to formally elevate its federal stature in 1994 by signing an executive order telling federal agencies to make environmental justice part of its mission “by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.” A The good intentions evaporated amid George W.
By any measure, its outcomes are pathetic when it comes to environmental justice.
In a joint statement, commissioners Michael Yaki, Roberta Achtenberg and David Kladney said, “This report, in the wake of the mass poisoning of residents in Flint, Michigan, is especially timely…EPA’s Office of Civil Rights has historically acted as a black box for complaints about discriminatory effects of toxic source locations.” The report was timely because it was in Flint that the EPA’s behavior backfired into the worst environmental justice disaster of the Obama era.
He pushed for the 2015 Paris climate change accords and directed the EPA to issue a host of landmark rules to cut industrial pollutants and greenhouse gases, including a 54.5 miles per gallon standard for automobiles and light trucks by 2025.