THE EPA IS BACKING DOWN FROM ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE CASES NATIONWIDE (The Intercept)

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    THE EPA IS BACKING DOWN FROM ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE CASES NATIONWIDE – By Delaney Nolan (The Intercept) / Jan 19, 2024

    The agency has pumped the brakes on Civil Rights Act investigations out of apparent fear that a Louisiana challenge could make it to the Supreme Court.

    ST. JAMES, La. — FOR A LITTLE WHILE, it seemed like Cancer Alley would finally get justice.

    The infamous 85-mile stretch between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is one of the nation’s most polluted corners; residents here have spent decades fighting for clean air and water. That fight escalated in 2022, when local environmental justice groups filed complaints with the Environmental Protection Agency, alleging that the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality had engaged in racial discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. In a watershed moment, the EPA opened a civil rights investigation into Louisiana’s permitting practices.

    But just when the EPA appeared poised to force the LDEQ to make meaningful changesOpens in a new tab, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry — now the state’s governor — sued. Landry’s suit challenges a key piece of the agency’s regulatory authority: the disparate impact standard, which says that policies that cause disproportionate harm to people of color are in violation of the Civil Rights Act. This enables the EPA to argue that it’s discriminatory for state agencies to keep greenlighting contaminating facilities in communities of color already overburdened by pollution — such as in Cancer Alley — even if official policies do not announce discrimination as their intent.

    Five weeks after Landry filed his suit, the EPA dropped its investigation, effectively leaving Cancer Alley residents to continue the struggle on their own.

    CONTINUE > https://theintercept.com/2024/01/19/epa-environmental-justice-lawsuits/

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