The first six months of the Trump Administration have reversed decades of progress toward environmental justice.
The Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) continues its series of reports on the Trump administration’s impacts on environmental policy and data governance, this time focusing on Environmental Justice, the right for all communities to human and environmental health. Pursuing a Toxic Agenda: Environmental Injustice in the Early Trump Administration, extensively analyzes recent policy shifts, and highlights EDGI’s interview with Mustafa Ali, the former head of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice.
EDGI finds the Trump administration has already reversed decades of environmental justice work via policies, proposed budget cuts, stated priorities, and political appointments that will increase toxic burdens on children, low-income communities, and communities of color. Particularly we find increased risk to those living near hazardous industrial facilities, and farmworker families through pesticide exposure.
Increased environmental risks for vulnerable communities from the Trump administration’s:
- Support for the Dakota Access Pipeline
- Reversal of a ban on the agricultural pesticide chlorpyrifos, known to cause developmental damage in children
- Rollback of workplace safety regulations
- Rollback of environmental data collection and access vital to proving environmental injustice.
How proposing budget cuts would further dismantle environmental protections by:
- Eliminating the EPA Office of Environmental Justice
- Weakening lead remediation and education programs
- Reducing funding for toxic cleanups
- Reducing the quality and available data for Environmental Justice research
The new administration is poised to cripple the government’s ability to address environmental problems and increase environmental inequalities such as toxic exposures. Rather—as recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma make excruciatingly clear—U.S. environmental agencies and organizations need more resources and support to address the apparent, growing, and inevitably unequal, effects of climate change and other environmental disasters.
In response EDGI proposes a new framework for Environmental Data Justice.
Data is a critical and often under appreciated component of environmental justice. Pursuing a Toxic Agenda brings EDGI’s expertise in critical data studies together with an analysis of environmental policy to propose re-imagining and reconstructing society’s relationship to data in order to value justice, inclusion and accessibility by:
- Addressing critical questions of why, how, by whom and for whom data is collected through the creation of infrastructures that contextualize data sources, the process of data production, conditions for its use and its ownership.
- Enabling communities to determine the kinds of data collected about their conditions, while being mindful that a world where communities are left to research the inequality they experience is its own kind of injustice.
- Addressing the disparity in federal valuation of and infrastructural for support of industry supplied data versus data produced by and for communities.
- Holding the state and industry responsible for environmental inequalities through alternative public data-watching dogging, data archiving and data analysis practices.
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