Holder promises to protect minority areas from environmental hazards
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder pledged Friday to work to protect low-income minority communities from environmental hazards.
Low-income communities have for decades borne the brunt of the country’s environmental problems. Studies show that toxic waste sites are almost always built near poor communities that often don’t have the resources to protect themselves.
In remarks commemorating Martin Luther King Day, Holder, the country’s first black attorney general, said the Justice Department will work aggressively to enforce environmental laws to protect vulnerable communities.
“This is unacceptable and it is unconscionable,” Holder said. “But through the aggressive enforcement of federal environmental laws in every community, I believe we can — and I know we must — change the status quo.”
Holder called environmental justice an important civil rights issue. “By examining environmental requirements in conjunction with our civil rights laws, I am confident that we can do a better job of assuring fairness and advancing justice,” he said.
While Holder said environmental justice is a “top priority” at the Justice Department, he said there is still more work to be done.
“[T]he simple, and unfortunate fact is that we still are not where we want and where we need to be,” he said.