Target: U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch
Goal: Investigate allegations that the EPA has been routinely failing to protect people of color from environmental hazards.
The Environmental Protection Agency has been accused of racism by civil rights activists and communities that consist of a high number of people of color. The agency’s civil rights office has reportedly failed many times to address complaints from these communities, leaving people of color and people in poverty to suffer from dangerous exposure to pollutants and toxic waste.
According to Earthjustice, multiple communities of color have been waiting years for their cases to be addressed even though the EPA is supposed to have preliminary findings and recommendations within 180 days. Cities made up of mainly Latino or black individuals have heard nothing after filing their complaints as early as 2003. And those are just the complaints that were accepted. A whopping 95 percent of complaints filed to the EPA civil rights division are rejected outright.
This is all extremely suspect when considered next to the recent disaster in Colorado wherein EPA agents released toxic waste water from the Gold King Mine into nearby rivers and streams until they turned orange. This incident and the agency’s mishandling of the situation will mainly affect the Navajo Nation, which relies on the local water sources for farming irrigation.
It’s bad enough that people of color disproportionately suffer from poverty. They don’t need pollutants, waste products, and pests weighing on their health at the same time. Demand that the Department of Justice investigate the EPA’s alleged failure to safeguard civil rights.
Dear Attorney General Lynch,
For many years, the civil rights office of the Environmental Protection Agency has been largely failing to do its job of protecting poor cities and communities of color from discrimination and from unnecessary exposure to dangerous pollutants. It’s come to light that 95 percent of the complaints filed to this division are rejected, and the ones that are accepted have been languishing for years even though action is supposed to be taken within 180 days.
This is a massive and unacceptable failure. People of color already disproportionately suffer from poverty and their communities are more likely to be poor. The stress of poverty has a negative impact on their health and makes it more difficult to climb out. Piling on the health effects of pollution and being exposed to toxic waste, chemicals, and the pests these things attract makes getting out of poverty incredibly difficult–especially considering the cost of healthcare in this country.
The failure of the EPA’s civil rights office and the recent mishandling of the Gold King Mine spill that’s threatening the Navajo nation suggest possible racism within this important government agency. We demand that you immediately move to have the Department of Justice investigate this issue.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski