September 23, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released its Environmental Justice: Examining the Environmental Protection Agency Compliance and Enforcement of Title VI and E.O. 12,898, which found that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Final Coal Ash Rule disproportionately impacts low-income and communities of color and places the burden of enforcement on these communities.
The Commission’s findings support Rep. Hank Johnson’s bill, the Coal Ash Landfill Safety Act of 2016 (CALSA), H.R. 4827. CALSA would protect citizens from dangerous coal ash being disposed in municipal landfills, which are not equipped to handle the toxic substance, and requires the EPA to re-examine its rules to determine if such criteria are as protective of health and the environment. The report found the “EPA did not fully consider the civil rights impacts in approving movement and storage of the coal ash” despite the agency finding “the percentage of minorities and low income individuals living within the … area of coal ash disposal facilities is disproportionately high.”
Rep. Johnson (GA-04) released the following statement on the report:
“The Commission’s findings once again bring attention to the critical environmental justice concerns that plague low-income, tribal, and minority communities,” said Johnson. “These communities are disproportionately affected by the location of waste disposal facilities that take in toxic materials, such as coal ash, and lack the resources to prevent dumping near their schools, homes, and neighborhoods. The burden of our environmental regulations should not fall on those who are at the greatest risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals. As we have seen in Georgia, Flint, Michigan and in the Dakotas, we must act now to prevent corporate polluters from further poisoning our lands and water supply.”