WASHINGTON – The Trump administration’s plan to eliminate funding for environmental justice programs will increase the already outsized burden of toxic pollution borne by lower-income communities of color, EWG President Ken Cook said.
The White House budget office is moving forward with President Trump’s campaign pledge to hobble the Environmental Protection Agency, proposing severe cuts for important initiatives that help underserved communities combat pollution and clean up abandoned industrial facilities. The EPA’s environmental justice department provides crucial grants to lower-income communities and communities of color to help address pollution from industrial facilities and agricultural operations near their neighborhoods.
During EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s Senate confirmation hearing, he was asked if he thought environmental justice is a serious issue. Pruitt replied that he was familiar with the concept, but it appears that the administration doesn’t consider it a serious matter.
The following is a statement from Cook:
Scott Pruitt did absolutely nothing for the underserved communities of Oklahoma while he was the state’s attorney general, and it seems he will continue this trend of ignoring the serious pollution threats these Americans face now that he’s head of the EPA. 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.
Petrochemical facilities and power plants aren’t located in affluent enclaves or middle class suburbs. Nor are municipal landfills, waste treatment plants, incinerators or animal factory farms adjacent to wealthy neighborhoods. 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.