WHEREAS, improving conditions which affect the health status of African-Americans is a high priority for the NAACP; and
WHEREAS, environmental hazards pose increasingly significant health risks for African-Americans and others who are exposed to their toxic effects; and
WHEREAS, the problem of environmental injustice confronts African-American, Asian American, Latino, and Native American communities across the country. African Americans and other "people-of-color" in communities nationwide suffer disproportionately from environmental degradation. Specifically, three out of five African-Americans and Latinos live in communities with one or more hazardous waste sites; and
WHEREAS, there is a direct correlation between the disproportionate presence of toxic generating facilities and pollutants in African-American communities, and the disproportionate increase in infant mortality, birth defects, cancer, and respiratory illness; and
For example, lead poisoning affects three (3) to four (4) million children in the United States, most of whom are African-American and Latinos who live in urban areas. Among children five years old and younger, the percentage of African-American children who have excessive levels of lead in their blood far exceeds the percentage of whites at all income levels; and
WHEREAS, all communities and individuals across this nation have an equal right to a safe, healthful and productive environments which must be protected equally by federal, state and local governments among all communities; and
WHEREAS, a 1992 the National Law Journal investigation has found that the federal government, in its cleanup of hazardous sites and its pursuit of polluters, favors white communities over communities of color under environmental laws meant to provide equal protection for all citizens; and
For example, penalties under hazardous waste law at sites that have the greatest white population were about five hundred percent (500%) higher than penalties at sites with the greatest population of people of color averaging $335,566 for the white areas, compensated to $55,318 for minority areas; and
WHEREAS, the National Law Journal found that the disparity in enforcement under toxic waste law occurs by race alone not income; and
WHEREAS, existing federal law does not require the federal government to routinely collect and analyze environmental and health data by ethnicity, race and income; nor does it ensure equitable application, implementation, and enforcement of national environmental laws; and
WHEREAS, the pursuit of "environmental justice" is a paramount priority of the NAACP since it involves the fundamental question of life and death for African-Americans, and invokes principles of social justice and equal protection of the law; and
WHEREAS, the issue of environmental justice involves the pursuit of equal protection for African-Americans and others under all environmental laws and regulations without discrimination based on race, ethnicity or socio-economic class.
BE IT THEREFORE, RESOLVED, that the NAACP support the swift enactment of federal legislation which seeks to address these concerns, including legislation which seeks to address these concerns that would require that actions be taken by authorized federal agencies to curtail those activities having substantial adverse impacts on human health; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP particularly support enactment of the Environmental Justice Act and considers it to be a legislative priority for the 103rd Congress.