2017-03-02_1138

Protesters march against a proposed toxic waste dump in Warren County, North Carolina, in October 1982.

The end of “environmental justice” could soon be at hand.

CNN, citing an unnamed source, said several Environmental Protection Agency programs face the chopping block due to President Donald Trump’s demands to reel in regulatory burdens on the private sector.

On the list is reportedly one that comingles the green movement with civil rights.

Called environmental justice, the phrase is defined by the EPA as a means of providing “fair treatment” for “all people, regardless of race, color, national origin or income” in all matters of “development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.”

How that plays out practically is that politicians and special interests then make the case that environmental degradations disproportionately impact minority communities, or poverty households, more than white communities or wealthier homes, and, therefore, the government needs to provide taxpayer dollars to address the inequity.

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For instance, studies have shown that asthma impacts poorer families more frequently than wealthier families. Under the environmental justice mindset, the points of comparison are not the jobs, or the education levels of the families in question, but rather the fact the poorer family is unfairly forced to live in a home that’s dirtier or ridden with cockroaches.

So the solution?

Environmental justice demands government money ought to be spent to ensure the poorer families are provided with cleaner homes. And those who oppose such funding, or even such rhetoric – the tying of the environment with civil rights and civil justice causes – are generally regarded as racist and discriminatory.

But now that program, under Trump’s EPA, could be cut – at least according to CNN, which has been criticized by the president several times for “fake news” and false reports.

Still, CNN reported: “The source spelled out details of an Office of Management and Budget proposal that would cut the EPA’s budget by 24 percent and reduce its staffing by 20 percent. Some of the EPA’s most longstanding and best-known programs are facing potential elimination – including initiatives aimed at improving water and air quality as well as a number of regulations tasked with reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Other programs,” CNN went on, “include the Environmental Justice program, which is meant to help local communities grapple with environmental concerns, and Global Change Research, a program funded by several agencies, including the EPA, which reports humans’ impact on the planet. The Clean Power Plan, which could also be recommended for cuts, was an initiative by former President Barack Obama meant to reduce carbon emissions from each state. Fourteen separate EPA partnership programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could also be on the chopping block.”

The Sierra Club is already gearing to fight the cuts, particularly ones to environmental justice.

“To cut the Environmental Justice program at EPA is just racist,” said John Coequyt, a campaign director for Sierra, in CNN. “I can’t imagine it’s an office that runs up much cost. I can’t describe it in any other terms than a move to leave those communities behind. I can’t imagine what the justification would be, other than racism.”

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