The Environmental Justice movement was started to deal with disparities in the treatment of environmental issues that could be traced back to race/class. It’s disheartening to know that the EPA, which has a mandate to specifically deal with EJ issues has dropped the ball. The next time a landfill/hog factory gets sited near an economically depressed neighborhood, you know why.
The Environmental Protection Agency is not conducting required reviews to ensure that low-income and minority neighborhoods get the same environmental protection as other communities. The report by the EPA’s inspector general, made public Tuesday, said senior EPA officials have not required regional offices and department heads to conduct environmental justice reviews despite a requirement for such reviews dating from 1994. A survey by the IG’s office found 60 percent of the regional offices and program departments that responded had not conducted the reviews, and 87 percent said they had not been asked to do them, according to the report. Such reviews were required by an executive order that former President Bill Clinton issued in 1994. It was reaffirmed by EPA administrators in 2001 and again last year, said the report by acting Inspector General Bill Roderick. Until adequate reviews are conducted, “The agency cannot determine whether its programs cause disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority and low-income populations,” the report said.