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EPA Sued to Obtain Controversial Obama “Environmental Justice” Grants Documents

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Published on: March 27, 2017

On Friday, watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to obtain documents related to grant awards and associated proposals for “environmental justice” grants in 2014 and 2015.

According to Judicial Watch:

The EPA’s controversial “environmental justice” programs provide taxpayer funding for environmental and other left-wing interest groups.  The EPA awards more than $4 billion annually in funding for grants and other assistance agreements.  Shortly after President Trump assumed the presidency, the Trump administration instructed officials at the EPA to freeze its grants and contracts.

The lawsuit was filed after the EPA failed to respond to a simple November 25, 2015, FOIA request for:

  • Copies of all grant awards and associated proposals for “environmental justice” grants awarded by the EPA in 2014 and 2015.

The EPA defines “environmental justice” as “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

Roger Clegg of National Review, who testified before the US Commission on Civil rights in 2016 on the issue, put forth his thoughts on “environmental justice,” calling it “bizarre.”

“The approach in general considers it to be illegal discrimination if a practice has a statistically disproportionate racial effect, even if the challenged practice is neutral by its terms and in its intent, and is evenhandedly applied,” Clegg wrote.  “So, for example, if a landlord prefers not to rent to people with a record of violent-crime convictions, he can be held liable if that policy results in a higher percentage of those of this race being disqualified than that race – even though he adopted it with no racial intent and applies it to all prospective tenants.”

“And in the environmental area, this means that the government tells an agribusiness, for example, ‘This pesticide that you are using is making children sick in a nearby neighborhood,” Clegg added.  “Now, we know that you don’t intend any racial discrimination, and we would be okay with children getting sick if the neighborhood were racially mixed, but the problem is that it is a heavily minority neighborhood.  Therefore, you must stop.’”

“As I said, that’s just bizarre,” concluded Clegg.  “If the business were deliberately targeting minority neighborhoods, that would be different; and if the government said that making children sick in any neighborhood was illegal, that would make sense, too. But saying that the illegality depends on unintended racial outcomes does not.”

The idea that businesses conduct business and that businesses may produce unintended consequences that affect certain minorities is ridiculous.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, “The Obama EPA’s ‘environmental justice’ slush fund for its leftwing allies needs to be exposed.  This is a simple records request and the fact that the Obama EPA ignored it for years tells you the agency has something to hide.”

Why can’t we just seek the elimination of the unconstitutional EPA?  Isn’t that a simple solution to the entire problem that comes out of this agency?

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