The Environmental Injustice of Declining Budgets for Water Infrastructure

by Evan Isaacson | February 15, 2018

This year more than most, it bears repeating that a budget is a moral document, or at least that it has moral implications. It's particularly important to remember not just because President Trump's budget is so appallingly skewed in favor of military spending – this looks to be one pricey parade – but also because of the administration's puzzling infrastructure proposal. 

It is no surprise that the Trump administration would craft an infrastructure plan heavily tilted toward the shiny objects of the infrastructure world – roads and bridges – even though a boost in drinking and wastewater projects could help deliver that "beautiful, clean water" that candidate Trump declared was very important to him, and which many of his supporters so desperately need. It is similarly unsurprising that Trump would take this opportunity to attack bedrock environmental laws like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Clean Water Act's provision under which states require that applicants for licenses and permits observe clean water requirements (section 401) under the guise of knocking down "regulatory barriers" and "streamlining permitting." (The attack on section 401 is rich irony considering how important "states' rights" and "cooperative federalism" are supposed to be to this administration). 

But perhaps the biggest surprise about the new infrastructure plan was how significantly the Trump administration has proposed to shift the cost of infrastructure financing from the federal government to state and local governments. Even ...

Justice and Contemporary Climate Relocation: An Addendum to Words of Caution on 'Climate Refugees'

by Maxine A Burkett | August 10, 2016
This excerpt is drawn from a post originally published on Aug. 8, 2016, by the Wilson Center's New Security Beat. The idea that climate change is causing migration and displacement is entering the mainstream, but experts have warned against using the term "climate refugees" to describe what we're seeing in small islands, coastal regions, and even conflict zones like Syria. Geoff Dabelko's 2007 post on climate change and migration was an early and important clarification of this emerging phenomenon. He ...

Unnatural Disasters and Environmental Injustice

by Christine Klein | April 07, 2016
Originally published on OUPblog by CPR Member Scholars Christine A. Klein and Sandra B. Zellmer. The recent tragedy involving toxic, lead-laced tap water in Flint, Michigan highlights the growing gulf between rich and poor, and majority and minority communities. In an ill-fated measure to save costs for the struggling city of Flint, officials stopped using Detroit's water supply system and switched to the Flint River. Although residents complained about the water's foul taste, odor, and color, officials assured them that the water ...

EPA's New Guidance on Considering Environmental Justice in Rulemaking a Welcome First Step

by Catherine O'Neill | July 27, 2010
The EPA released a guidance document on Monday that promises to integrate environmental justice considerations into the fabric of its rulemaking efforts. Titled the Interim Guidance on Considering Environmental Justice During the Development of an Action, EPA’s Guidance sets forth concrete steps meant to flag those instances in which its rules or similar actions raise environmental justice concerns. Specifically, the Guidance directs agency staff involved in rulemaking to “meaningfully engage with and consider the impacts on” communities of color, low-income communities, indigenous ...

9th Circuit's Strong Words for EPA's Office of Civil Rights

by Ben Somberg | September 21, 2009
As first reported by Law 360 on Thursday: In a decision reversing a ruling in favor of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a federal appeals court has chastised the agency's Office of Civil Rights for what the court said was its apparent failure to consider alleged civil rights violations in a timely manner. “What the district court initially classified as an 'isolated instance of untimeliness' has since bloomed into a consistent pattern of delay by the EPA,” wrote Judge A. ...

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