NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

State And Local Governments Decry "Environmental Racism" Rule

October 10, 1998

A controversial Environmental Protection Agency rule that applies civil rights laws to the issuance of emission permits to companies has led to the cancellation of two industrial projects and is threatening a third. State and local officials in the affected areas are angry at the Clinton administration initiative.

Under the EPA's "environmental racism" rule, activists can sue under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to halt construction of emissions-producing facilities in poor, minority areas -- even if residents support the new plants and the jobs they would bring and facilities comply with state and federal emission requirements.

  • After months of delay by the EPA in issuing permits to the Shintech Corp. to build a facility in a poor, mostly black parish in Louisiana, the company announced it was relocating the project 30 miles away in a mostly white community -- taking with it the potential for 255 jobs.
  • After four years of EPA permit delays, a consortium that had planned to build a uranium-fed processing plant in another poor, black Louisiana parish withdrew its application. -- thus denying the residents 180 high-paying jobs.
  • In Flint, Michigan, a proposed $175 million steel mill has been delayed and the project is in jeopardy because the EPA is taking its time considering an environmental racism complaint.

According to reports, the Clinton administration and the EPA see a conspiracy between state environmental agencies and the industries they regulate to locate polluting industries in minority neighborhoods.

But government and industry studies find no evidence of such a conspiracy, and nearly every local government organization -- as well as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties and the Environmental Council of the States -- has demanded that EPA withdraw its policy of allowing activists to sue states and disrupt job-creating projects.

Source: Henry Payne, "EPA's 'Environmental Racism' Rule Blamed for Job Losses in Poor Areas," Washington Times, October 10, 1998.


Browse more articles on Environment Issues