Democrat presidential candidate Julian Castro said Wednesday his climate plan would address “environmental injustice and racism,” arguing that the poorest are the worst-affected by climate change.
“You all know that oftentimes the first folks that get flooded out are the poorest communities. They’re often communities of color. They’re the ones who can least afford to deal with the climate crisis,” he said during the CNN town hall.
“We know that this climate crisis is going to affect all Americans and all folks around the world, [but] we also know that it’s going to hit some people particularly hard — people that are the first people to get affected,” he said.
Castro said that after he announced his campaign, he first went to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to make sure that they could recover from Hurricane Maria.
“I think about poor communities along the east coast,” he said. “Frankly, I connect the dot to places like Flint, Michigan, and I know that too oftentimes, it’s people who are poor, communities of color, who take the brunt of storms that are getting more frequent and powerful.”
He said his climate plan calls for “new civil rights legislation” to address “environmental injustice,” including making sure people could file lawsuits against polluters.
“We need to invest in these communities and their ability to withstand storms and other natural disasters and their ability to have something as simple as clean water or breathe clean air,” he said.
He said as former Housing and Urban Development secretary in the Obama administration, he found out that 70 percent of HUD-funded public or subsidized housing was within a mile of a superfund site.
“That’s the environmental injustice and racism that we’re dealing with, and my plan would equip Americans with the tools to fight back and also make investments so that we can bring justice to what is right now a tremendous injustice,” he said.
He said to pay for his plan, he would create a “carbon pollution fee” on corporations who are “industrial-scale polluters.”