H/t Kenny Solomon
How many of you knew the EPA has a civil rights division, all raise your hands… I’m guessing only maybe 3 or less. The less including this author.
Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits racial discrimination by any U.S. government agency. Including the EPA. The EPA’s civil rights division is supposed to hear and act on citizens complaints of untenable living conditions. The key word here is supposed. And with no discrimination.
This was brought to my attention by an article in The Center for Policy Integrity which gives us a snap shot of what appears to be discrimination by the EPA of groups of color, race or ethnicity. And the WAY to discriminate is to downplay, deny or ignore complaints from residents in low income neighborhoods, or neighborhoods or areas of color, against a company or entity who is fousting unsafe or uninhabitable living conditions upon them.
Case in point. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A mostly African-American area has been plagued by massive amounts of flies, foul ordors and pollution from a nearby sewage plant. Resident Gregory Mitchell filed a complaint in 2009 with the EPA’s Civil Rights Office.
After months of waiting his complaint was rejected. They refused to even investigate citing a pending lawsuit by residents against the city. He filed another complaint in 2010 and the agency again said no. A third complaint was filed after the lawsuit was settled, and the EPA rejected it on a technicality, saying it wasn’t filed in a timely manner. In 2012 they got a 4th rejection.
Mr. Mitchell said he felt “blown off.”
“Under the EPA’s civil-rights division,” he said, “nothing is done.”
The Center for Public Integrity, here now referred to as “CFPI,” goes on to explain this is not unique behavior by the EPA: that is has shown a pattern of discrimination and these kinds of inactions. CFPI tells us 9 times out of 10, communities turning to the EPA for help have rejected or dismissed their Title VI complaints. Of the cases the CFPI reviewed, EPA:
- Rejected 162 without investigation;
- Dismissed 52 upon investigation;
- Referred 14 to other agencies, including the departments of Justice, Health and Human Services and Transportation;
- Resolved 12 with voluntary or informal agreements;
- Accepted 13 for investigations that remain open today, the oldest begun in 1996.
While this did not begin under the Obama administration, it is still interesting information given the racial divide he and his administration have created. Beginning with the death of Trayvon Martin, to Ferguson, Baltimore and the assuming laissez faire attitude he has about deaths of those who are not black.
The EPA admits they haven’t been quite up to snuff on this, but recent employee Velveta Golightly-Howell promises they will “try harder.”
But that doesn’t seem to be the case, since the EPA rejected for the 4th time Mr. Mitchell’s complaint. The city however, has been working with the EPA to move some residents out and create a buffer zone from the sewage plant. However, Mr. Mitchell chose to relocate.
I did do a quick peak at the history of Times Beach, for those who don’t recall, it’s the town in Missouri that was closed up and vacated because of massive dioxin contamination. According to wiki it was once a resort town but quickly turned into low-income housing. The EPA had the town evacuated in 1985 with complete demolition by 1992.
The CFPI article is quite long, but worth a read because it contains so much resourced information. It may be ironic to some that in some instances those environmentally-charged groups, one here being Earth Justice, who is generally in favor of EPA’s policies, is leading the charge to get assistance for those placed in untenable living conditions.
Crossposted at Conservative Outlooks