Environmental Justice

Q83: Do you support federal policies to address the disproportional environmental risks in low income and black communities impacting air, water and land?

Biden: Yes. Environmental impacts – on health, economics, and overall quality of life – are often far more acute on communities of color, tribal lands, and low-income communities. I will reinstate federal protections, rolled back by the Trump Administration, that were designed to protect communities. I will make it a priority for all agencies to engage in community-driven approaches to develop solutions for environmental injustices affecting communities of color, low-income, and indigenous communities.

As president, I will hold polluters accountable, many of which disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities. Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has referred the fewest number of criminal anti-pollution cases to the Justice Department in 30 years. Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences perpetuates an egregious abuse of power. I will direct my EPA and Justice Department to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation as needed to hold corporate executives personally accountable – including jail time where merited.

I will also ensure access to safe drinking water for all communities. Communities across America are experiencing a water crisis, in water infrastructure, contamination, accessibility and so much more. Here in the U.S., from rural areas to cities, from Flint, Michigan to Merrimack, New Hampshire to Martin County, Kentucky, many Americans cannot safely drink their tap water. In much of the southwest and west, the problem is a lack of sufficient water, expected to exacerbate with a changing climate. I will make water infrastructure a top priority, for example, by establishing systems to monitor lead and other contaminants in our water supply and take necessary action to eliminate health risks, including holding polluters accountable and support communities in upgrading their systems.

I will also ensure that communities harmed by climate change and pollution are the first to benefit from the Clean Economy Revolution. Low-income communities and communities of color don’t equally share in the benefits of well-paying job opportunities that result from our clean energy economy. For example, African Americans hold only 1% of energy jobs. As President, I will make sure these communities receive preference in competitive grant programs in the Clean Economy Revolution.

View details of that plan HERE.

Bloomberg: Yes. It’s not enough to just stop the pollution from fossil fuels — the U.S. must proactively address environmental justice and equity for the low-income communities and communities of color, including Black communities, who have been disproportionately harmed by pollution. Black communities are exposed to higher levels of deadly particulate pollution, experience higher

●  Make environmental justice a national priority, directed by the White House, with an environmental justice office in every federal agency. He will restore the National Environmental Policy Act and add equity assessments to federal environmental reviews as well as Office of Management and Budget reviews of agency policies and budgets.

●  Expand investments to expand community-based monitoring of environmental pollution and exposures, and to map the unequal exposure to pollution and the health impacts of climate change, overlaid with other socioeconomic factors.

●  Consult with community leaders and environmental justice advocates on rulemakings and other important policy decisions.

●  Prioritize jobs and affordability, and ensure that low-income communities and communities of color see the benefits of building a clean energy economy. Mike’s plans include financial assistance to access clean energy, affordable clean vehicles (including rebates to trade in older vehicles for electric vehicles or transit vouchers) and rebates and loans to renovate buildings to reduce energy bills and indoor air pollution, and replace older appliances with clean pollution-free ones. They also include connecting those most affected by fossil-fuel pollution and by the shift to clean energy for good jobs building the infrastructure of the new clean energy economy.

Buttigeig: Yes. Protecting our air, water, and planet for every American will be non-negotiable when I am President, especially for communities of color who are too often disproportionately affected by pollution and unsafe drinking water. I will reinstate the Obama administration’s rule for Mercury and Air Toxic Standards, prioritize monitoring and enforcement of air quality, and increase funding for EPA enforcement. I will protect the right to clean water by reversing the rollback of critical protections for our nation’s water supply, strengthening the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts, and increasing funding for monitoring and enforcement of these acts. As described in my climate change plan , I will direct clean energy and climate resilience funding to communities of color who have received inadequate resources to combat and prepare for the effects of climate change.

De La Fuente: Yes.

Sanders: Yes. As President, Bernie will ensure justice for frontline communities – especially under-resourced groups, communities of color, Native Americans, people with disabilities, children and the elderly – to recover from, and prepare for, the climate impacts, including through a $40 billion Climate Justice Resiliency Fund. And providing those frontline and fenceline communities a just transition including real jobs, resilient infrastructure, economic development.

Bernie’s plan will repair our nation’s water systems. It is unacceptable that Flint, Michigan, still does not have clean drinking water. Communities all over the country from Denmark, South Carolina, to rural Iowa are faced with similar dangerous contamination, such as lead, diseases, or other toxic pollution like PFAS. Bernie introduced the WATER Act, which would provide up to $34.85 billion to repair our nation’s water infrastructure. Furthermore, a Sanders’ Administration will aggressively regulate all dangerous greenhouse gases and enforce the Clean Air Act.

Steyer: Yes. My climate plan, which you can read ​here,​ is focused on undoing policies of environmental racism and empowering communities of color.

Warren: Yes. The Green New Deal commits us to a fair and just transition for all communities and workers — and that means recognizing that climate change doesn’t affect every community equally. Black, indigenous, and other people of color, as well as lower-income communities, have often borne the brunt of climate change and other environmental harms. At the same time, communities dependent on the fossil fuel economy worry about what this transition will mean for their jobs. Justice must be at the center of our response to climate change, which is why I’ve committed to elevating an environmental justice council to report directly to the White House. But we won’t create true justice by cleaning up polluted neighborhoods and tweaking a few regulations at the EPA. We need to prioritize communities that have experienced historic disinvestment, across their range of needs: affordable housing, better infrastructure, good schools, access to health care, and good jobs. We need affordable energy and clean drinking water—for everyone. We need strong, resilient communities, prepared and properly resourced to withstand the impacts of climate change. I’ve committed to an equity screen to direct one-third of my proposed climate investment into the most vulnerable communities—a commitment that would funnel at least $1 trillion into these areas over the next decade. I also believe we need to create processes centered on and led by those living on the front lines of climate change, who know best what their communities need. The task before us is huge—it will require millions of workers to complete massive retrofits to our nation’s infrastructure and our manufacturing base. It will also require readjusting our economic approach to ensure that Black communities and others who have been systematically harmed from our fossil fuel economy are not left further behind during the transition to clean energy. We cannot succeed in fighting climate change unless the people who have the skills to get the job done are in the room — as full partners. And as president, I will prioritize programs to empower workers who may be hurt by the transition to a more green economy, including those currently employed in the fossil fuel industry. That means providing them with financial security — including early retirement benefits, job training, union protections, and guaranteeing wage and benefit parity for affected workers. You can read more about my plan to fight for justice as we combat the climate crisis here: https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/environmental-justice