Fighting Environmental Racism

Copyright 1998 New York Post
May 18, 1998

The Clinton administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency, has come up with a new and interesting way to destroy job opportunities for racial minorities. It has taken up arms in the fight against something called "environmental racism." Fortunately, most states and business groups have finally found their collective backbone and are fighting back against this crunchy-granola-y diversity-crazed notion.

Environmental racism is an idea that's been kicking around greenie circles for a while. "Environmental racism refers to any policy, practice or directive that disproportionately affects or disadvantages (intentionally or unintentionally) individuals groups or communities based on race or color," according to Dr. Robert D. Ballard, the leading exponent of the idea.

President Clinton is a believer. One of his first executive orders, issued in February 1993, directed all agencies to take environmental racism into consideration when making a decision about anything. In response to that directive, the EPA recently issued a guideline telling states and localities that they could face loss of federal funds or even a federal civil-rights lawsuit if they are found to be issuing permits that "disproportionately" burden minority communities with incinerators, dumps or industries thought to be polluting.

What's "disproportionate?" Anything greater than the statewide average, according to EPA.

This incredible expansion of federal power - effectively usurping local zoning laws - holds no end of mischief for the businesses involved as well as local governments. Even existing permits that come up for periodic review could be stopped dead in their tracks by"civil-rights" concerns.

Needless to say, any corporation in its right mind would avoid areas with large concentrations of minorities - like New York City - like the proverbial plague. Job opportunities? Forget 'em.

In fact, permits could be challenged at any time by anyone. This, of course, is a made-to-order shake-down scheme for the various civil-rights hustlers that populate New York and elsewhere. ("Nice business you've got here. Be a shame if somebody were to file a lawsuit ...")

And there is simply no evidence that such a thing as "environmental racism" even exists.

A study by the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Research found that there is simply no correlation between high concentrations of minorities and concentrations of hazardous waste facilities.

Right here in New York City, there is a major example of what appears to be the exact opposite of environmental racism. Staten Islanders, 85 percent of whom are white, have long demanded that the city close the Fresh Kills landfill. Fresh Kills is the destination for virtually all the trash from heavily minority neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

The Clinton administration has claimed repeatedly that its environmental policy is grounded in "common sense." Yet environmental racism makes little to no sense. It is largely the creation of activists constantly on the lookout for new ways of keeping the doom saying pot boiling. The best environmental policy is to create jobs for people who don't have them. Sadly, that is just what the EPA is likely to kill.

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