Elitist “Environmental Justice” Bad News for Minorities

Environmentalists like playing the race card, but they make a dreadful mistake.

They don’t play with a full deck.

“Environmental justice” is a term green activists use to demonize businesses and complain that the government isn’t doing enough to help minorities. Their premise is simple: They believe businesses are using political power to unfairly put polluting factories predominately in minority neighborhoods.

The problem: These green groups aren’t helping minorities. In fact, the regulations that come as a result of their agenda cause harm.

A clean environment is important, but so are a job and a home. The environmentalist agenda is often pitted against the bread-and-butter issues facing most Americans. Even when green activists invoke compassion for downtrodden minorities, their policies perpetuate poverty.

Global warming is a good example of environmentalist absurdity. They support regulating American industry to reduce the emission of alleged “greenhouse gases” that may or may not be resulting in a dramatic heating of the atmosphere (there’s no conclusive proof of this theory, and many reputable scientists scoff at the greens’ scare stories).

Environmentalist support of the Kyoto Protocol, a UN plan to “reduce” global warming, reveals a perverse commitment to minority well-being. According to a study commissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce and other minority organizations, the Kyoto Protocol could make approximately 864,000 blacks and 511,000 Hispanics jobless in the United States while reducing the wages of those minorities still working by about ten percent. Other studies predict gas prices would rise another 66 cents a gallon, electricity bills would rise almost $2,000 a year and a house would cost 21 percent more to buy.

Speaking of housing, these same environmentalists support “smart growth” restrictions on building new homes. In Richland County, South Carolina, restrictions fighting “urban sprawl” prevent black farmers, whose families have owned their land since the end of the Civil War, from selling their land. This policy even stops these families from dividing their land among their own children!

An econometric study commissioned by The National Center for Public Policy Research found that, had the entire nation followed Portland, Oregon’s environmentalist-endorsed policies of restricting new home construction in the 1990s, there would be a million fewer homeowners today.

Included in that figure are approximately 260,000 black homeowners who might not have been able to buy the homes they live in today. By restricting the quantity of new homes and driving up the prices of existing ones, smart growth essentially becomes a new form of segregation. Yet these neo-segregationist policies remain popular with environmentalists.

Norris McDonald of the African-American Environmentalists Association recently asked the 25 biggest environmental groups to describe their hiring practices and involvement in minority communities. Only four groups gave him the dignity of a response. Among those not responding were Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife. McDonald says their silence “conveys the appearance that there are discriminatory practices being shielded from public view.”

A study commissioned by the Natural Resources Council last year found that only six percent of the staff members of 60 green groups surveyed are black (only three percent are Hispanic). In the case of the League of Conservation Voters, McDonald said, he was “not aware of one minority professional ever working at LCV in its almost 30-year history.”

This is the same LCV that issued a 2001 congressional “report card” listing votes for liberal abortion policies and increased campaign finance regulation as pro-environment votes while not even listing the “Brownfields Revitalization Act,” which provided federal funding and streamlined procedures for cleaning polluted sites in predominately inner city areas, as an environmental vote worth commenting upon. To the LCV, it’s apparently more important to keep abortion as birth control in minority communities than it is to make it easier to clean polluted inner-city neighborhoods, create inner city jobs and provide new services.

Environmental organizations like the color green, in all its forms. Other colors apparently don’t interest them at all.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.