EPA is Trying to Gut their Own Regulations
EPA’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has proposed to make multiple changes to its current regulations and procedures. Almost all of these will weaken the agency’s ability to provide effective civil rights enforcement. Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad if the OCR didn’t have a 40 decades long history of failure to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act either through the complaint process or through it own authority to act proactively. 90% of complaints are rejected or dismissed–sometimes because EPA’s own inactions have rendered allegations moot.
OCR still has not finalized their guidance documents and in it’s entire history has never had a finding of discrimination. In fact, EPA never even made a preliminary finding of discrimination until the Obama administration and even then settled the case without involving the affected community and in a way that did not meet the community’s needs. Multiple complaints have languished at the OCR for decades. Interestingly, now that five complainants are suing EPA OCR to force them to meet their deadlines, OCR wants to eliminate those deadlines completely.
Some of the main problems with the proposed rule making are:
- Eliminating all deadlines
- Eliminating the requirement to investigate all complaint
- Continuing to follow the “Rebuttable Presumption” that confuses compliance with environmental standards with compliance with Civil Rights laws
- Encouraging Informal Resolution and Alternative Dispute Resolution to close complaints, when both processes exclude the complainants
- Relying almost exclusively on online postings to inform affected communities of actions that are important to them
- In addition, the very way that EPA created the Strategic Plan (rulemaking) and “promoted” public participation in reviewing the Plan showed either a total misunderstanding of the very communities they are supposed to be protecting, discrimination against those communities or both.
For more information on the 6 points, take a look at one of the Comments that was sent to EPA during the March comment period.