Department of Justice Launches Environmental Justice Inquiry in the City of Houston, Texas | Takeover bid

The Department of Justice announced today that it has opened an environmental justice investigation into the City of Houston’s operations, policies and practices related to the illegal dumping. The investigation, to be conducted by the Division of Civil Rights, will examine whether the city is responding to requests for city services, including in response to an illegal dump, in a manner that discriminates against black and Latino residents of Houston in violation of federal civil rights laws. .

“Illegal dumpsites not only attract rodents, mosquitoes and other vermin which pose health risks, but they can also contaminate surface water and impact drainage, making areas more susceptible to flooding” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. . “No one in the United States should be put at risk of disease and other serious harm because of ineffective solid waste management or inadequate enforcement programs. We will fairly and thoroughly investigate these issues. of environmental justice and their impact on black and Latino communities in the city of Houston.

“Illegal dumping can raise significant concerns about public health and safety, property values ​​and quality of life,” said U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery for the Southern District of Texas. “We look forward to working with the Civil Rights Division to ensure the City of Houston meets its federal civil rights obligations.”

The investigation will examine whether the city’s law enforcement and solid waste management operations, policies and practices in response to the illegal dumping resulted in discrimination against Black and Latino residents in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI). Title VI prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating based on race, color, or national origin.

The Civil Rights Division’s Federal Coordination and Compliance Section is conducting this investigation with support from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas. Prior to the announcement, the department notified the mayor’s office and the City of Houston Legal Department of the investigation.

Addressing discriminatory environmental and health impacts through the enforcement of national civil rights laws is a top priority of the Department of Justice. In May 2022, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the creation of the first-ever Office of Environmental Justice. He also announced the release of the Department of Justice’s Comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy, which provides a roadmap for the use of the Department’s civil and criminal enforcement authorities and tools, including civil rights authorities, to achieve environmental justice. In July 2022, the ministry released its 2022-26 strategic plan, which includes protecting civil rights and promoting environmental justice as a priority area. In November 2021, the Civil Rights Division announced its first Title VI environmental justice investigation of Justice Department recipients, the Alabama Department of Public Health, and the Lowndes County Department of Health.

“The Justice Department’s recent creation of the Office of Environmental Justice and a comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy affirms our deep commitment to pursuing equality before the law,” said Deputy Attorney General Todd Kim of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “This investigation illustrates the department’s commitment to alleviating the disproportionate environmental burdens too often borne by communities of color, low-income communities and tribal communities.”

Persons with relevant information are encouraged to contact the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section by email at [email protected] or by telephone at 1-888-TITLE-06 (1-888 -848-5306). Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt. Additional information about the Environment and Natural Resources Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/enrd.

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