AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Report: EPA anti-discrimination office has never issued finding of discrimination

The Environmental Protection Agency office charged with protecting citizens from environmental discrimination has never issued a finding of discrimination, according to a recently-released report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

This office has failed to make such rulings even as racial minorities and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by waste facilities – as well as new regulations on coal ash, a kind of pollution produced by power plants that burn coal, the report states. As a result, people in these disadvantaged communities are forced to collect complex data and fund complex lawsuits to protect themselves from pollution.

The EPA could address this problem using existing law, the report finds, but complaints made through such channels experience “extreme delays,” it states.

The 230-page report pays special attention to coal ash, pushing for more safety testing and funds for research on its health impacts. An AJC investigation last year found that Georgia lagoons filled with coal ash have a history of leaks and spills, and communities are objecting to the waste being brought into their communities.

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson of Lithonia has offered up legislation that would address some of these concerns.

Curious? Read the report here. There's an interesting discussion starting on page 62 that says that the EPA failed to considered environmental justice concerns when authorities decided to dispose of coal ash from a devastating 2008 spill in Uniontown Ala. instead of Mauk, Ga.


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