The bill would make the 1994 executive order on environmental justice law and expand its protections for minority and low-income communities. It would establish requirements for federal agencies to implement and update a strategy annually to address negative environmental health impacts. The measure also would make it easier to file lawsuits.
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency's Office on Environmental Justice submitted his resignation on Tuesday. First reported by InsideClimate News, the resignation of Mustafa Ali comes as the Trump administration considers layoffs and budget cuts at the EPA that, if enacted, would eliminate the environmental justice budget and cut funding to grants for pollution cleanup. Ali, a founder of the program in 1992 who has worked there since, told Mother Jones he resigned because he was concerned the administration's proposals to roll back its environmental justice work would disproportionately affect vulnerable communities. "That is something that I could not be a part of," Ali says. "Each new administration has an opportunity to share what their priorities and values are," he says, adding that he has "not heard of anything that was being proposed that was beneficial to the communities we serve.
In the Southside of Chicago, Ali Rashad works with a group of men to rebuild the community they live in; environmentally, spiritually, and economically. As the manager of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network's Green ReEntry Program, Rashad helps formerly incarcerated individuals find jobs that are rooted in sustainability.