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Tell the EPA to address civil rights violations

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Earthjustice is in court to demand that the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Rights complete investigations filed more than a decade ago of civil rights violations in vulnerable communities that have been disproportionately exposed to toxic contamination. The EPA hasn’t resolved any of these investigations, and instead has responded by proposing to eliminate deadlines for acting on complaints and further weaken the laws that would protect communities against environmental racism.

Tell the agency to enforce the law and not allow civil rights complaints to languish while doing nothing for communities exposed to dangerous pollution.

Our suit argues that the EPA has failed to complete open investigations of civil rights violations filed more than a decade ago. Each of the complaints charged that agencies, in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, granted permits for polluting facilities in predominantly low-income, African-American or Latino neighborhoods, including:

  • A hazardous waste facility in Chaves County, NM
  • A landfill in Tallassee, AL
  • Two gas-fired power plants in Pittsburg, CA
  • A wood incinerator in Flint, MI
  • An oil refinery expansion in Beaumont, TX

It’s unacceptable that the racial composition of a community continues to be a critical factor in predicting exposure to toxic contamination.

Like all agencies of the federal government, the EPA has a responsibility to ensure that the states, local governments and private entities to which it awards grants and financial assistance don’t discriminate. This has been the law of the land since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But the EPA’s record on civil rights enforcement has been notoriously poor. We cannot allow these communities to wait any longer. It’s time for the agency to enforce the law.

Your personalized message will be added along with the following letter:

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Fighting for Healthy Communities What You Need To Know About Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Your message:

Clean up your act: enforce civil rights

Dear Environmental Protection Agency,



Like all agencies of the federal government, the EPA has a responsibility to ensure that the states, local governments and private entities to whom it awards grants and financial assistance don't discriminate. This has been the law of the land since the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act.

But the EPA's record on civil rights enforcement has been notoriously poor, and an audit requested by former head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, described an Office of Civil Rights that had lost sight of its mission and priorities. The EPA continues to have a backlog of cases with investigations that have been open for more than 10 years--delaying justice for communities exposed to toxic contamination--and has never in its history made a finding of discrimination. The EPA has failed even to finalize guidance documents that would make its legal standards clear, leaving both recipients of federal funds and communities unhappy.

It is unacceptable that the racial composition of a community continues to be a critical factor in predicting exposure to environmental contamination. Justice has been delayed for too long. While the EPA sits on these complaints, facilities continue to pollute and communities living in proximity to these facilities are deprived of their rights. No one should wait this long for justice.

It's been 51 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act. I urge the EPA to take action now to enforce the law.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[City, State ZIP]

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