Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) introduced on Thursday the ‘‘Environmental Justice Mapping and Data Collection Act of 2021’’ to gather data and direct federal money to communities around the country they say face environmental injustice.
Those injustices, they say, include pollution, police killing black Americans and other minorities, and poverty, among others.
“Environmental justice is racial justice,” Bush, who was a Black Lives Matter activist before winning election to the House of Representatives in 2020, said at the virtual press conference.
President Joe Biden has said he would direct 40 percent of environment-related funding to communities with high numbers of low-income and minority residents. The funding, Biden said, could pay for clean energy and wastewater projects.
Markey said at the press conference that the bill is a tool to make sure the money is properly directed.
“That tool is going to be essential to direct at least 40 percent of the funding for a clean and climate safe future into communities facing environmental injustices,” Markey said. “So that’s our goal and it’s completely consistent with what President Biden has laid out as his agenda.”
“When we talk about gun violence and when we talk about community violence, we’re talking about where the disparities are to make sure that funding is there to fix decades of injustice that have opened the door to this,” Bush said. “It’s not just pointing a finger at the issue, but it’s about how we can fix the issue.”
It is unclear even if the House passes the bill that it will make it through the Senate, which, with a 50/50 Republican/Democrat split in the chamber, still faces the filibuster vote threshold of 60.
While the filibuster does not appear in jeopardy, Markey has called for its abolition, claiming the protocol is “rooted in a racist past.”
Bush said at the press conference that a safe environment is about more than air or water quality.
“If we fix those things, but if we continue to have this stressor [sic], this situation, where the police can just murder us disproportionately and without impunity, then did we fix our environment? Is our environment now safe?” Bush said.
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