New Bill Would Make Vital Investments in Environmental Justice Communities

Statement by Taofik Oladipo, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jun 11, 2021

WASHINGTON (June 11, 2021)—Due to decades of unchecked discriminatory policies, Black, Latinx, Indigenous and other marginalized communities are more likely to live near Superfund sites, hazardous chemical facilities, high-pollution highways, and have failing water systems. A large and growing body of scientific research illustrates how these underserved communities face unfair risks to their health and their lives from these injustices. To address this problem, Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Donald McEachin have introduced the “Environmental Justice Legacy Pollution Cleanup Act,” which would put billions of dollars into the communities most affected by these long-standing harms. These investments are a necessary step to ensuring that everyone can live in a safe and healthy community, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Below is a statement by Taofik Oladipo, Washington government affairs representative for the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS. “For decades, grassroots environmental justice groups based in Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other marginalized communities have been sounding the alarm about the disproportionate risks their communities face from environmental hazards. Millions of people are exposed to air pollution, contaminated water, and other chemical hazards in their own neighborhoods, reflecting a grim record of racism in housing, environmental enforcement, economic development, and access to political power. Underserved communities are disproportionately exposed to toxic waste sites, abandoned mines, diesel buses, lead paint and pipes, and inadequate water and sanitation systems. Rigorous scientific evidence confirms what leaders in these communities have been saying: These inequities result in real harm and loss of life for marginalized communities. It’s long past time for the federal government to take these concerns seriously.

“The Environmental Justice Legacy Pollution Cleanup Act is a critical first step to ending this injustice. If passed into law, this bill would provide $200 billion in much-needed investments to clean up these sources of environmental harm. These are smart, targeted investments that will go a long way towards fixing some of the most pervasive impacts of racism.

“Environmental justice advocates understand firsthand what’s happening in their communities. The science is clear and the impacts are devastating. The Environmental Justice Legacy Pollution Cleanup Act of 2021 is the kind of change we need—responsive to community demands and directly addressing a long history of harm.”