Should the EPA Be Doing More to Fight Environmental Injustice?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be doing more to fight the environmental injustice spreading throughout our country. Right now with all of the budget cuts that are forced to happen due to the recession and need for jobs, it probably won’t happen for awhile. The injustice due to toxic dumping and other pollutants are not being handled as swiftly as they should be handled. The reason for that is because the area that is affected is not a big campaign contributor to a state or government politician. There has always been and always will be institutionalized racism or classism, because only certain classes of people are affected by corporate waste. Yes, they should do more
First thing we need to understand is who is the EPA and what powers do they actually have to do more. The EPA was officially formed on December 2, 1970 by then president Richard Nixon. The agency is led by its administrator, who is appointed by the President and approved by Congress. The current administrator is Lisa P. Jackson. The EPA is not a Cabinet department, but the administrator is normally given cabinet rank. The agency has approximately 18,000 full-time employees. The EPA has fourteen offices and has 10 regions that cover the entire United States of America. EPA's goal is to provide an environment where all people enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to maintain a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work. EPA's environmental justice mandate extends to all of the Agency's work, including setting standards, permitting facilities, awarding grants, issuing licenses and regulations and reviewing proposed actions by the federal agencies. EPA works with all stakeholders to constructively and collaboratively address environmental and public health issues and concerns. The Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) coordinates the Agency's efforts to integrate environmental justice into all policies, programs, and activities. The Office also provides information, technical and financial resources to assist and enable the Agency to meet its environmental justice goals and objectives. The one thing that most people do not understand is that the division of criminal investigations within the EPA is the office that is responsible for the slighted injustices that happen throughout this country. We tend to look at the EPA as a whole of not doing enough to halt injustices, but it is the one office within the EPA that should shoulder this criticism.
The EPA has to step up their volume of cases of injustice to see a level of the playing field. The issue is not with what the EPA is trying to do to deter environmental injustice, but the enforcement of those acts that are put into law. This is where the criticism of the EPA not doing enough for the minorities originates. If the EPA Criminal Investigation Division steps up their enforcement, then there would be less to analyze as discriminatory procedures. Here is an excerpt from their January 12, 1994 memorandum which in a nutshell shows why the minority communities are up in arms about the slow pace of environmental justice. “While a history of repeated violations is not a prerequisite to a criminal investigation, a potential target’s compliance record should always be carefully examined. When repeated enforcement activities or actions, by EPA, or other federal, state, and local enforcement authorities, have failed to bring a violator into compliance, criminal investigation may be warranted. Clearly a history of repeated violations will enhance the government’s capacity to prove that the violator was aware of environmental regulatory requirements, had actual notices of violations and then acted in a deliberate disregard of those requirements”. What is this excerpt telling you, you need...
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