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Congress Attacks Environmental Justice

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Date sent: 17 Sep 1999 14:31:58
Send reply to: Conference "env.justice"

From: [email protected]
Subject: Congress Attacks EJ
To: Recipients of conference

Dear Friends,

The House of Representatives has passed a rider on House Bill 2684 that blocks EPA's enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Although we know that there are problems in the EPA's development of civil rights guidelines, it is important that we work together to oppose this rider. The rider is part of a host of provisions that take funds away from federal housing, lead abatement, and environmental programs. This rider is a repeat of last year's appropriations bill that took away EPA funds for investigation new Title VI complaints. This means that regardless of EPA's rules, Title VI complaints will be effectively silenced.

Conservative members of Congress have taken a back-door approach to legislation. Riders are generally used as a weapon to defeat laws, in this case Title VI, by taking away the resources needed for enforcement. Riders do not have public debate and are established by committees.

The time for action is now for raising public opposition to the rider! We need to develop a coordinated strategy. This e-mail list can be used to communicate action steps and pooling information. Currently, we are reaching out to groups to raise awareness and encourage folks to get involved in opposing the rider.

You can also contact Senators about opposing the rider. Presently, the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Subcomittee on VA, HUD, & Independent Agencies are working on the Senate appropriations proposal for federal agencies, including the EPA. We are told by Senate staffers that the Senate version of House Bill 2684 does not include the rider. The rider is expected to be an issue when the Senate and House meet in conference to decide which version of House Bill 2684 to accept -- the one with the rider or the one without the rider.

The Rider on House Bill 2684

* silences people of color who suffer from environmental racism

* takes funds away from the EPA=92s enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

* maintains the status quo for state agencies that allow polluting industries to locate in people of color communities

* sets back the struggle of African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans for a clean and healthy environment

* is a sneaky attempt to gut federal civil rights laws -- one of the most important legal protections in our country

Yours in the struggle,

Monique Harden
Attorney/Community Liaison Director
Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund
400 Magazine Street, Suite 401
New Orleans, LA 70130
504 522 1394 ph
504 566 7242 fax
[email protected]

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