Quantcast
Trump Watch
Mustafa Santiago Ali. Hip Hop Caucus

Trump's Planned EPA Cuts Will Hit America's Most Vulnerable

The Trump administration is using a deliberate and systematic approach to undermine, weaken and disempower America's most vulnerable communities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed budget cuts are a clear-cut example of this attack. The cuts will gravely reduce the ability to enhance communities across the U.S.—including low-income communities made up of white, black, Latino, indigenous and Asian Americans, in urban and rural settings alike.


Now that Trump's appointed leader of the EPA testified on Capitol Hill Thursday, it is important to understand the consequences of the actions they want to take. The bottom line is that real people will get sick and many will prematurely die. Communities, particularly our most vulnerable, will greatly suffer if these cuts happen.

The road the Trump administration is taking us down puts us full-speed in reverse. Almost like a scene from Back to the Future, their actions would embrace a time when rivers caught fire and air pollution darkened the skies over our cities. A time when many communities of color were relegated to the back of the bus, and their voices did not have an influence in the decision-making process. Yep, the good ol' days were actually not so good for many of our citizens.

It is no secret on where the Trump administration is getting their ideas. They are running a systematic playbook put together by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that has been around since the 1980s and is well funded by the infamous Koch brothers, among other individuals and corporations.

Their main office is just steps from the United States Capitol and the halls of Congress, where they wield unparalleled influence. Executing this game plan is a far cry from the "help the little guy" and "drain the swamp" mantra the president continues to tout. If you want to see what they will try to do next, just take a look at their report.

The EPA's proposed 2018 budget slashes protections, and slashes the workforce made up of good and honest people working long and difficult hours to uphold them. These protections are in place for a reason, each having been thoroughly developed after years of public input from millions of individuals across the United States.

They are in place to protect us from harmful air and water impacts from industry polluters. They are there to responsibly clean up and enhance designated toxic areas. And they are there to protect us from the deadly impacts of climate change happening now and lessening these impacts for our kids in the future. In essence, these protections are in place for people and made by the people.

One of the initiatives the proposed budget takes a major axe to is the EPA's brownfields job training program, which couples workforce development with environmental cleanup efforts in communities burdened with a legacy of industrial pollution.

Take Detroit, where a local group called the Green Door Initiative utilized EPA's program to create a technician jobs training program in 2011. Their training allowed their community to address extreme unemployment and underemployment among African American men in particular, while at the same time addressing high levels of pollution.

The training turned over 200 individuals with structural barriers to employment into assets for their local economy and providers for their families. This initiative continues to pay dividends to this local community by ridding the city of problematic toxic land and creating jobs for members of this vulnerable community.

Among other consequences, the proposed elimination of EPA's Office of Environmental Justice (my former office) will disempower our most vulnerable, like the Southeast Community in Newport News, Virginia.

For decades, this community has faced dire air quality thanks to a local power plant pumping coal-dust into the atmosphere. A few years ago they were able to take an EPA environmental justice small grant and turn it into a multi-year advocacy campaign to raise awareness and establish a scientific footing for concerns about the neighborhood's disproportionate asthma rates.

This grant funding taught the community how to better protect their health and also enhance the Southeast Asthma Network, allowing for greater reach, with the addition of new partnerships and shared resources.

These programs pay big dividends for local communities. Spartanburg, South Carolina, is undergoing a transformation from a contaminated, low-income area into a livable and vibrant community. In 1998, EPA awarded the community a $20,000 grant. The community has leveraged that into more than $270m in private and public funding through partnerships with more than 140 organizations.

Much of this work has been led by local leader, Harold Mitchell, who started a Spartanburg non-profit organization called the ReGenesis Project. ReGenesis worked with government and industry to clean-up the Arkwright municipal dumpsite, a former fertilizer plant, and six brownfield and Superfund sites.

They demolished 184 substandard public housing units and built more than 500 new, single-family and multi-family units for rental and homeownership. The community has seen the addition of community health centers, job training and employment programs and increased retail development. The community is also launching a 35-acre solar farm, which will create job opportunities and lower electricity bills for local residents.

What we are currently seeing from the Trump administration is a disconnect from what hard working everyday citizens are asking for and a strategic approach that is extinguishing the hope of our most vulnerable communities. While we should be providing them with upward mobility, this administration is removing basic protections and opportunities for our fellow humans and countrymen.

I know these programs work. I have seen it across communities of all colors and creeds. Let's focus on revitalizing our most vulnerable communities. We have an incredible opportunity to support the vision of these communities and focus on building them up, strengthening our country from the ground up. We need to do everything we can to lift our most vulnerable communities and move them from surviving to thriving.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
An aerial view of of the Power County wind farm in Power County, Idaho. U.S. Department of Energy / Flickr

Who’s Behind a Letter Asking Congress to End the Wind Production Tax Credit?

By Dave Anderson

A new letter asking Congress to end the wind production tax credit has ties to the Institute for Energy Research, a group that has received funding from the fossil fuel and utility industry and is a close ally of the Trump administration.

The Energy and Policy Institute downloaded a pdf of the letter from WindAction.org, an anti-wind website run by the New Hampshire-based Lisa Linowes. A look at the "Document Properties" seemed to identify "Chris Warren" as the "Author" of the file:

Keep reading... Show less

Victory! Monsanto Shill Michael Dourson Withdraws After Public Outcry

The Center for Food Safety heralded reports that Michael Dourson, President Trump's controversial nominee to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Wednesday withdrew his nomination after senators raised concerns over his past work and conflicts of interest.

"Dourson is a long-time pesticide industry shill, with a history of manipulating scientific research to benefit corporate special interests. He was a dangerous, irresponsible choice to oversee chemical safety at the EPA," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director a Center for Food Safety.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Cap Sciences / Flickr

Electronic Waste Study Finds $65 Billion in Raw Materials Discarded in Just One Year

The amount of electronic waste around the world grew to a record 45 million tons in 2016, according to a United Nations-backed study released on Wednesday.

To put that in perspective, the weight of last year's e-waste was equivalent to about 4,500 Eiffel Towers, according to the study by the UN university, the International Telecommunication Union and the International Solid Waste Association. The amount of e-waste—defined as anything with a plug or a battery—rose by eight percent since 2014, the time of the last assessment.

Keep reading... Show less
An important fishing port of the French Atlantic Island Ile d'Oleron is Port La Cotinière. Robert Schüller / Flickr

Fishing Limits Set Too High Again by Council of the EU

As their annual end-to-the-year meeting closed on Dec. 13, the 28 fisheries ministers who sit on the Council of the European Union again set some fishing limits for Atlantic Ocean and North Sea stocks higher than scientists had advised and higher than the European Commission had proposed. Council deliberations went through the night and officials have not yet made all the details available on how 2018 fishing limits were calculated.

As in previous years, participants in the Council meeting announced that good progress had been made towards achieving the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) deadline to end overfishing by 2020. We can only hope the figures bear out this optimism when a full analysis comparing the decisions to scientific advice is completed.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Screenshot / White House Video

President Just Signed Bill That Says Climate Change a National Security Risk, But Does He Know That?

By Angela Ledford Anderson

President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law Tuesday. The act would require the Pentagon to do a report on how military installations and overseas staff may be vulnerable to climate change over the next 20 years.

Keep reading... Show less

'The Wrong Mine in the Wrong Place': Former Republican EPA Administrators Blast Alaska Mining Project

By Taryn Kiekow Heimer

An U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator under every Republican presidential administration since the EPA was created, except the Ford administration, whose administrator is deceased, have joined forces to make a statement in opposition to the Pebble Mine proposed in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Their statement appeared Tuesday as a full-page ad in the Washington Post.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
2017 Toyota Prius Prime Premium. motortrend.com

Toyota Urged to Reject Tainted 'Partnership' Claimed by Destructive EPA Chief

The Environmental Working Group is urging Toyota to reject a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), because EPA chief Scott Pruitt's plan to "evaluate management practices" is cover for his real agenda of destroying the agency's ability to do its job.

In a letter sent Wednesday to James Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America, EWG President Ken Cook wrote that helping Pruitt "manage EPA into the ground" would betray the ideals of quality, effectiveness and efficiency represented by the vaunted "Toyota Way" and the company's reputation for and commitment to environmental responsibility.

Keep reading... Show less
A storm cell dumps rain in rural western Illinios. Tom Gill / Flickr

Extreme Storms to Multiply, Intensify Across U.S., New Simulations Suggest

By Tim Radford

For the U.S., harder rain is on the way: America's summer thunderstorms are about to get stormier. Later this century, the notorious mesoscale convective storms of middle America will not just darken skies—they will also dump as much as 80 percent more water on the farms, highways and cities of the 48 contiguous states.

Mesoscale thunderstorms cover an area of around 100 kilometers (approximately 62 miles): these have been on the increase, both in frequency and intensity, in the last 35 years and new research suggests that, as the world warms, their frequency could triple.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!