Cut Environmental Justice at the EPA, and We All Lose

March 17, 2018

By Brian Palmer –

Mustafa Ali worked at the Environmental Protection Agency for 24 years. Last week he resigned from his position as senior adviser and assistant associate administrator for environmental justice—an office he helped found in 1992 during the Bush administration, and one that Donald Trump intends to gut as the administration moves to cut the agency’s funding by 31 percent and eliminate more than 3,200 staff positions. In his letter of resignation, Ali urged EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to “converse with those who need our help the most.”

The federal government has recognized for decades that air and water quality are especially poor in low-income areas and communities of color, and some of that imbalance stems directly from government permitting decisions, such as where to allow the dumping of toxic materials. Since at least 1994, a relatively small sum of federal money has gone to remedying this injustice. But even that modest amount may soon disappear. Reports suggest the Trump administration plans to cut environmental justice programs within the federal government and to stop issuing small EJ grants to community groups.

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