Chambers Align to Fight against `Environmental Justice' Policy

By Porstner, Donna | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 20, 1998 | Go to article overview

Chambers Align to Fight against `Environmental Justice' Policy


Porstner, Donna, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Two D.C.-based chambers are working together for the first time to bring more jobs to the inner cities during a worker shortage.

Together, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Black Chamber of Commerce are pushing to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency's so-called "environmental justice" policy.

Environmental justice is based on a 1994 presidential order and allows the EPA to block industrial developments in minority neighborhoods if the agency believes residents will be exposed to higher levels of pollutants than other groups.

The world's largest business alliance representing more than a million businesses, the U.S. Chamber has been vocal against the policy since last April. It is a new issue for the Black Chamber representing the interests of 62,000 black-owned businesses in 180 chapters across the nation.

"We fully support the U.S. Chamber's efforts to repeal the EPA's misguided policy," Black Chamber President Harry Alford said at the group's annual convention in Baltimore on July 9. "This represents the beginning of a close working relationship between the U.S. Chamber and our organization to support black businesses around the country."

Both chambers say the EPA policy is holding back businesses that want to invest in minority neighborhoods and harming communities that would benefit from an increase in their tax base.

"The irony of environmental justice is there is no justice at all," U.S. Chamber President Thomas J. Donohue told the convention. "The people who will be most affected by this [policy] are the people in the inner cities."

The overall effect, Mr. Donohue said, is that companies looking to build are moving away from urban centers and leaving residents - many of whom are minorities - unemployed.

EPA civil rights director Ann Goode denied that the policy was blocking job creation.

"There's no instance in the past five years, when we started getting complaints, that anything has been held back [due to the policy]," she said. …

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