June 24, 2012
If you read many government policy papers you will invariably encounter any number of catchphrases that you have no earthy idea what they mean. Case in point, I keep stumbling upon the phrase ‘Environmental Justice.’ It sounds nice but what does it mean?
As explained in the next two articles by Katherine Timpf,
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement” of people, regardless of race, “with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”
I know, still about as clear as mud isn’t it? If you want to know what environmental justice really is, and you do need to know because it is being put into practice right here in Oklahoma, read on. . .
Environmental justice: A new movement to restrict your movement
. . .a nearly unknown executive order could have a greater impact on the future of America than all of those things combined, potentially giving the federal government power to control every project in the country.
The obscure memorandum of understanding, based on a long-forgotten executive order signed by President Clinton in 1994, marries the issues of environmentalism and social justice. The federal government can use the laws from one to control the other.
Seventeen federal agencies signed the Aug. 4, 2011, memorandum — a clear indication of its widespread implications. By signing it, “Each Federal agency agrees to the framework, procedures, and responsibilities” of integrating environmental justice into all of its “programs, policies, and activities.”
Mr. Obama explicitly suggests using Title VI to achieve environmental justice in his memorandum.
“This is all about integrating environmental justice into the transportation decision-making process,” said conference speaker Glenn Robinson, director of the Environmental Justice in Transportation Project at Morgan State University in Baltimore.
The president had taken steps to integrate environmental justice into transportation even before he wrote the memo. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency joined with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation to create the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
This partnership, according to the “Environmental Justice and Sustainability Reference Deskbook,” “marks a fundamental shift in the way the federal government structures its transportation, housing, and environmental policies, programs and spending” to include environmental justice concerns.
Americans hear it every day: The environment is bad, and we need to change it. Life is not fair for minorities, and we need to help them. The Obama administration sees both of these mantras as united under a common cause: environmental justice.