U.S. Dept. of Interior Joins Obama Administration Push for "Environmental Justice", SLF Files Formal Comments, May 17, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC/ATLANTA, GA, May 17, 2016: Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) today filed a formal public comment in the increasingly controversial expansion plans of the so-called “environmental justice” efforts by 15 federal agencies. In the most recent version, the Department of Interior’s 2016-2020 Draft Environmental Justice Strategic Plan drew SLF legal analysis because the Plan is “outside the bounds of existing legal authority, and raises serious constitutional concerns,” according to Kim Hermann, SLF Senior Counsel.
First, the DOI’s proposal allows it to take any action it sees fit under the guise of “environmental justice” without any requirement that it establish any actual effect, let alone any actual disproportionately high and adverse effect, on a particular population. Second, by focusing on environmental “effects” on particular communities, the proposed plan contradicts federal law which requires that the agency focus on actual treatment of particular communities. Further it makes the same conduct legal in one community, but illegal in another solely based on the racial makeup of those communities. Third, the DOI’s proposed use of social outreach tools raises serious concerns about anti-lobbying violations. And finally, because the proposed plan protects some racial and ethnic groups and not others, it runs afoul of the Equal Protection Clause.