Why African Americans Need a Strong and Independent Federal EPA

Numerous studies have documented African Americans communities face a disproportionate share of environmental and health threats. It is for this simple reason the Environmental Justice Movement was born some three decades ago—a national movement born fighting environmental racism. Millions of African Americans look to the federal Environmental Protection Agency for equal environmental protection they have been denied by their state environmental agencies, many of whom have a long and sordid history of protecting polluters over protecting residents who live in industrial “sacrifice zones.” A weakened federal EPA is a recipe for disaster. Rolling-back or gutting environmental regulations is a roadmap for more trips to the emergency room for many Americans who live on the fenceline with polluting industries. We must resist all efforts to dismantle EPA and our nation’s environmental protection apparatus as if our lives depend upon on it—and they do.

Katrina and the Second Disaster: A 20-Point Plan to Destroy Black New Orleans Revisited After 10 Years

This August 29 will mark the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Now is a good time to revisit Katrina and the Second Disaster: A Twenty-Point Plan to Destroy Black New Orleans, a blog I wrote months after the disaster. Now after ten years, Katrina watchers, experts, urban planners, funders, government and nongovernment organizations, and community leaders point to some shocking statistics and trends: smaller African American footprint, rising income inequality, uptick in black child poverty, shortage of low-income housing, skyrocketing apartment rents, rampant housing discrimination, runaway neighborhood gentrification, and overall uneven recovery. While these outcomes are alarming, they should be no surprise given the array of decade-long policies built on preexisting racial inequality that preceded the 2005 storm. If you rebuild on inequality, you can expect more inequality—not less inequality.

Houston’s People of Color Neighborhoods “Unofficially Zoned” for Garbage

Zero Waste Houston Coalition will hold an Environmental Justice and Waste Summit on Saturday August 2 at the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University in Houston. The Summit organizers include local and national leaders who will present strategies to address race, waste and environmental justice issues in Houston. The Summit will bring special attention to Houston’s controversial “One Bin for All” trash recycling proposal which presents social environmental challenges by giving preference to siting a new waste facility in people of color neighborhoods. After more than three decades. some Houston residents may have to once again confront environmental racism.

Houston’s New Recycling Plan Gives Preference to Siting Waste Facility in Minority Areas

The Zero Waste Houston Coalition released a new report, “It’s Smarter to Separate: How Houston’s Trash Proposal Would Waste Our Resources, Pollute Our Air and Harm Our Community’s Health,” on the steps of City Hall. The report details environmental problems and challenges facing the One Bin for All experiment the City of Houston is considering to jumpstart its recycling program. It also documents the environmental justice and civil rights implications of the City giving preference to existing landfills for the location of its new One Bin for All waste facility. Houston since the 1920s has located its landfills, incinerators and garbage transfer stations exclusively in mostly African American and Latino neighborhoods.

Environmental Justice Leaders Mark Twentieth Anniversary of Executive Order 12898

It has now been twenty years since President Bill Clinton signed the Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations.” The Executive Order has survived three presidents. Although it has never been fully implemented, there are some positive signs at the executive level that environmental justice is back on the federal radar.

2014: The Year of Fallen Environmental Justice Heroes and Sheroes

The year 2014 has special significance as a landmark year for civil rights and social justice. It marks the 60th anniversary of the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision, 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act 1964 Civil Rights Act, and 20th anniversary of the 1994 Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898. Let’s make 2014 the “Year of Unsung Heroes and Sheroes.”

Invisible Houston Revisited Policy Summit Rolled Out

The Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University rolled out the Invisible Houston Revisited webpage for its Policy Summit to be held on campus November 7, 2013. The one-day Summit focuses on various forms of inequality in the nation’s fourth largest city over the past three decades since research on my…