01 Apr 2002 Project 21 Press Release: U.S. Environmental Policy Unfriendly to Minorities; African-American Network Wants Earth Day Reassessment of Regulations
Environmental regulations are harming minorities and low-income Americans while providing little real environmental protection. Members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 suggest that Earth Day 2002, observed on April 22, be used as a time to reassess our nation’s environmental goals so that no citizen is unjustly burdened by the cost of government rules.
As currently written and enforced, environmental regulations unjustly burden minority and low-income Americans. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates an average household pays $3,000 per year to comply with environmental laws. Since black families earn less than white families on average, black families spend approximately 12 percent of their incomes on costs related to environmental regulations while white families only pay seven percent. An analysis of proposed international global warming regulations found that, if enacted, the restrictions imposed on American businesses would cause black household income to fall by $2,220 and eliminate 864,000 jobs held by black Americans (the threat of global warming is still unconfirmed).
In addition, regulatory solutions to perceived environmental problems cause their own problems. Clean Air Act standards are supposed to address increasing cases of asthma among African-Americans. Buses, predominantly used in areas with high concentrations of minorities, are using alternative fuels containing chemicals that promote asthma. Focusing on vehicle emissions also overlooks the unaddressed issue of decomposing insects in substandard public housing being a major contributor to respiratory ailments.
Establishment environmental organizations are doing little to address minority concerns despite paying lip service to “environmental justice.” In its congressional ratings, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) ranked legislators on abortion and campaign finance regulation votes but not on their support for “The Brownfields Revitalization Act” – which eased regulations and funded the clean-up of polluted inner-city properties. Project 21 member Mike Green, commenting on the LCV ratings in a recent New Visions Commentary from Project 21, said: “Promoting the liberal agenda, in the case of the LCV, is seemingly more important than cleaning up pollution or saving fish populations – or simply telling the truth.”
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.