Hillary Clinton will empower the Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency to fight against “environmental racism” through “stronger enforcement” of environmental regulations, she announced on Wednesday.
“Across America, the burdens of air pollution, water pollution, and toxic hazards are borne disproportionately by low-income communities and communities of color,” states a memo on the climate justice initiative released by Clinton’s campaign.
The candidate herself introduced the plan during her speech at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network earlier in the day.
If elected president, Clinton says she will establish an Environmental and Climate Justice Task Force on her first day in office. The goal of the panel will be “finding and fixing the next 50 Flints” the memo reads, referring Flint, Mich., a majority black city where the water supply was contaminated with lead.
The task force will be directed to carry out “stronger enforcement” of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on that basis of race, color, and nation of origin, the Clinton campaign says.
“Clinton will also work with Congress to ensure that victims of environmental crimes receive compensation for their injuries, direct the EPA and Justice Department to work together on using Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to prevent or rectify environmental injustices, and direct Justice Department prosecutors to be just as tough on environmental criminals as they are on other criminals who endanger our communities,” the campaign memo states.
In the document, Clinton asserts that air pollution from power plants, factories, and refineries contribute to disproportionately high rates of asthma for African-American children. Nearly half of all Latino children live in U.S. counties where smog levels exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s health standards, the campaign says.
Minority communities will also be disproportionately affected by climate change.
“And the impacts of climate change, from more severe storms to longer heat waves to rising sea levels, will disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities, which suffer the worst losses during extreme weather and have the fewest resources to prepare,” the campaign memo states.
“Simply put, this is environmental racism.”
As part of the plan, Clinton calls for the elimination of lead as a public health threat within five years.
“More than 535,000 children are poisoned by lead in the United States, and children of color are more likely to be poisoned than white children,” Clinton’s memo reads.
A Presidential Commission on Childhood Lead Exposure will help meet the goal by exploring ways to remove lead from paint, soil, and pipes.
Clinton also called for the modernization of drinking and wastewater systems as well as for the prosecution of companies and individuals that “expose communities to environmental harm.”
She also wants to increase investment in clean power and transportation projects.
“Hillary believes we need to break down all the barriers holding Americans back — including the burdens imposed by unhealthy air, polluted water, and exposure to toxins,” Clinton’s campaign document states. “Environmental and climate justice can’t just be slogans — they have to be central goals. Clean air and clean water aren’t luxuries — they are basic rights of all Americans.”