The Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at Washington University School of Law recently published a report titled “Environmental Racism in St. Louis”. This report detailed that in St. Louis, blacks suffer from poor environmental regulations at a greater rate than their white peers. In summary, black families are more likely to visit the emergency room due to asthma, test positive for lead, and live in blighted communities. The study details how environmental injustice effects the quality of life, health and economics of St. Louis’ African Americans.
Although many of the facts in the report support what we always assumed, there is no arguing with the research findings and the science. I believe it is also a call to action for St. Louis.
As your federal representative, I am committed to passing legislation to improve environmental regulations, specifically for minority communities. I am joining my fellow members of Congress, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California), in sponsoring legislation recognizing that as the world gathers to combat climate change and pollution, it is communities of color and low-income communities that suffer first and, often, the most.
In addition, I am supportive of implementing federal policies that would increase transparency on how environmental regulations—or de-regulation—would impact the health and well-being of minority communities.
I have fought against environmental injustice and advocated for remediation my entire congressional career. My very first appropriation was for the $5 million cleanup of the former site of the St. Louis Army Ammunition Plant at the corner of Interstate 70 and Goodfellow Avenue in North St. Louis. I soon followed with funding totaling $30 million for the cleanup of the Carter Carburetor Superfund site on North Grand Boulevard. Finally, our coordinated efforts have led to the West Lake Superfund site being addressed. The responsible parties are undergoing settlement negotiations and engineering for cleanup is in progress to the estimated cost of $266 million
We saw the tremendous support for action on climate change demonstrated recently by advocates who held rallies in communities around the world. I cosponsored and supported H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act to place regulations to hold businesses to a higher standard so that residents suffer less from pollution to achieve better health.
I encourage you to join me in demanding changes from those who can take steps today on the local and state level. Action can begin locally by addressing lead paint poisoning, illegal dumping and air pollution within our own community. All local elected officials should review the riveting Washington University report and seek solutions that show they care about our climate, our communities, and the health and welfare of all the people.
U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Missouri) represents Missouri’s 1st Congressional District.