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How The New Administration Could Bring A New Day to The EPA’s Title VI Enforcement

How The New Administration Could Bring A New Day to The EPA’s Title VI Enforcement

Full Title: How The New Administration Could Bring A New Day to The EPA’s Title VI Enforcement
Author(s): Dayna Bowen Matthew
Publisher(s): Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.
Publication Date: January 1, 2017
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

The last weeks have been busy ones as the current administration scurries to rectify decades of civil rights inaction at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA issued a strategic plan, an enforcement manual, and the first chapter of an enforcement Toolkit, withdrew an ill-advised set of proposed rules, and finally gave direct legal oversight to its Title VI External Compliance team, moving it into the Office of General Counsel. The most telling sign that this work signals a new era in Title VI enforcement, however, is a Letter of Concern issued in the Genesee Power Plant Title VI case that has been pending for over two decades on the EPA’s docket. Title VI is the Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or natural origin. Historically, the EPA has had a disastrous record of enforcing Title VI. However, these significant, substantial and promising changes, though long overdue, just could work to turn the agency’s failing record around.

In fact, the tone of the incoming administration’s confirmation hearings have focused on improving quality in health and health care through innovation. Thus the time may indeed be ripe for the new EPA leadership to reduce government waste, substantially increase administrative efficiency correct the EPA’s repeated missteps in enforcing Title VI, and even eliminate its decades-old backlog of unresolved Title VI cases. The result could not only save money, time, and resources, but lives.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) mission and statutory duty is to protect human health and the environment. The U.S. Constitution and federal anti-discrimination laws obligate the EPA to carry out this mission equitably. Thus, in 1973, the EPA promulgated Title VI regulations to ensure that minority communities are not subjected to discrimination based on race, color, or national origin under any environmental program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance. But throughout its nearly 50-year history, the Agency has struggled unsuccessfully to enforce Title VI.

All statements and/or propositions in discussion prompts are meant exclusively to stimulate discussion and do not represent the views of, its Partners, Topic Directors or Experts, nor of any individual or organization. Comments by and opinions of Expert participants are their own.

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