Hillary’s ‘Environmental Justice’ Plan Is The Kind Of Kick Ass Policy We’ve Been Waiting For

On Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate and front runner Hillary Clinton released a clear and very detailed plan for dealing with the epidemic of lead and toxic waste poisoning that is affecting millions of Americans, many of them poor and/or minorities:

Exposure to pesticides and chemicals has been linked to childhood cancer, and the likelihood of such exposure can depend on where children live. For example, in the Manchester neighborhood of Houston, which is 85 percent Latino and where 27 schools are within one mile of a high-risk chemical facility, children who attend public schools are 56 percent more likely to get leukemia than those who live 10 miles away.

Simply put, this is environmental racism. And the impacts of climate change, from more severe storms to longer heat waves to rising sea levels, will disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities, which suffer the worst losses during extreme weather and have the fewest resources to prepare.

Undoubtedly, this will be sneered at as pandering but since Clinton’s strongest supporters are, in fact, minorities and the poor, the word “constituents” seems more appropriate.

The title of the blueprint is Hillary Clinton’s Plan to Fight for Environmental and Climate Justice, and contains several concrete steps that are guaranteed to leave corporate polluters foaming at the mouth:

Prosecute criminal and civil violations that expose communities to environmental harm and work with Congress to strengthen public health protections in our existing laws.

Here, Clinton cites the man-made disaster unfolding at Flint, Michigan in which (insanely) no one broke any existing laws, a judge giving polluters in West Virginia a slap on the wrist and Donald Blankenship receiving only 1 year of jail for killing 29 miners by ignoring safety regulations. Each example is a case of the system coddling corporate criminals and throwing the public’s health and safety under the bus.

Here’s the solution:

Clinton will work with Congress to update our environmental, public health, and safety laws by enhancing the criminal provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act, adding criminal provisions to the Lead Disclosure Rule, improving the lead inspection standards of the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule, and increasing the penalties for violations of the Mine Safety and Health Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act so that they are felonies that carry the possibility of serious jail time.

In other words, no more free passes to corporations that poison us to make a little more profit. Big government? Damn right it is! We formed a government to protect us from the depredations of the rich and powerful. It’s about time it started to take that responsibility seriously.

Protect public health and safety by modernizing drinking and wastewater systems.

America has a serious infrastructure problem. Specifically, Republicans have stopped allowing us to keep our infrastructure from crumbling. Why? Because infrastructure spending, while vitally important, is also really REALLY good for local economies. You can’t outsource replacing old pipes so all of that money spent goes right into the economy instead of the pockets of a few multinational corporations.

Republicans also don’t care because rich communities don’t suffer from this problem:

Aging and inadequate wastewater systems discharge more than 900 billion gallons of untreated sewage a yearposing health risks to humans and wildlife, disrupting ecosystems, and disproportionately impacting communities of color.

Clinton has a $275 billion plan to invest in modernizing American infrastructure, including drinking and wastewater infrastructure, and will work with states, municipalities, and the private sector to bring our water systems into the 21st century and ensure that all Americans have access to clean, safe drinking water.

That’s $275 billion to make our drinking water clean again AND help the economy at the same time. Republicans will fight it but how much more political damage can they take? Is blocking clean water for children really a hill to die on?

“Eliminate lead as a major public health threat within five years.”

Flint is not the only place to suffer from lead poisoning and drinking water is not the only way to get it. Old schools and buildings still have lead paint, placing children at risk:

The ongoing tragedy in Flint has put a spotlight on the urgency of this crisis, but Flint is not alone. More than 535,000 children are poisoned by lead in the United States, and children of color are more likely to be poisoned than white children.

Clinton is pledging $5 billion just in federal spending to deal with this blight. And, again, as a bonus, all of that money spent goes right into the local economy.


There’s (a lot) more and it’s just as well thought out. I encourage you to read the entire thing, it’s fantastic. From expanding public transportation to investing heavily in green energy, Clinton has developed a comprehensive strategy to dealing with several major issues confronting America. This is the kind of leadership we can expect from someone who’s spent a lifetime serving the public and something we can all get behind.

Featured image via Getty