The Law Center signed on to a joint letter from the Environmental Justice Community and its supporters to Administrator Scott Pruitt regarding the proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The letter condemns these proposed EPA budget cuts, pointing out that they would not be “putting America first” as President Trump has suggested, but would instead result in fewer protections for people of color, people with low socio-economic status, and other vulnerable populations. The Americans who would be most affected by these cuts are those already most susceptible to hazardous exposures in the environment and most at risk for ongoing and worsening health conditions.
The proposed budget cuts would result in the elimination of the Office of Environmental Justice, an office with far-reaching connections to many environmental justice groups. The future of the EPA’s Brownfields Program is similarly at risk. Currently, the Brownfields Program provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, and tribes so that they can safely clean up and reuse properties that have hazardous substances and contaminants present. The presence of these contaminated brownfield sites have grown over the years, and will only continue to grow and pose more of a threat with cuts affecting the program that helps safely address the problem.
As the letter addresses, Superfund, environmental education, climate change initiatives, and needed funding for particularly at risk communities and native villages will also be affected by the proposed EPA budget cuts. The impact these cuts could have on children are particularly concerning, as they are particularly susceptible to death resulting from of air pollution and other environmental factors. Funding for such important environmental programs that address issues like lead poisoning, air quality, and water contamination should not be cut to increase a military budget.
Instead of taking away money from EPA, additional funding is needed to help environmental justice communities fight against “environmental racism, air and water pollution, soil contamination, unsafe drinking water, environmental degradation, increased adverse health effects and premature death.” More attention should be given to the factors negatively impacting our environment and compromising the health of millions of Americans rather than cutting the EPA’s budget to increase military funding, and the battle we need to be fighting is on our own soil. The Law Center stands by this message in opposition of the proposed EPA budget cuts, and supports the work of the environmental justice communities fighting against them.