News Story

EPA Gives Over $6M For Environmental Justice Activism

Great Lakes program will give Wisconsin tribe $80k more

For what may be the first time in its nine-year history, the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) will fund a project aligned with the progressive movement’s view that pollution has racial implications, under a concept described as “environmental justice.”

The federal GLRI grant program, which is operated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will give $80,000 to the Red Cliff band of the Lake Superior Chippewas in Wisconsin to hire an environmental justice specialist. The grant covers wages and benefits for a full-time position to engage in educational and outreach activities.

However, the GLRI grant is not the first environmental justice spending that promotes the concept. The EPA states that it has spent more than $6 million on environmental justice grants from 2014 to 2018. It has an initiative called the “EJ 2020 Action Agenda,” which the agency describes as “focusing our attention on the environmental and public health issues and challenges confronting the nation’s minority, low-income, tribal and indigenous populations.”

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has made environmental justice one of her campaign issues.

From Warren’s campaign website: “From predominantly black neighborhoods in Detroit to Navajo communities in the southwest to Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, industrial pollution has been concentrated in low-income communities for decades — communities that the federal government has tacitly written off as so-called ‘sacrifice zones.’ But it’s not just about poverty, it’s also about race.”

In Michigan, several bills based on the environmental justice concept have been introduced by Democrats in the state Legislature. Among other things, they would impose additional restrictions and requirements on businesses seeking an air pollution discharge permit in a ZIP code that has 35 or more active permits, and require them to produce a disparate impact study.