A long-time top Environmental Protection Agency official worries proposed cuts in the federal agency’s budget will hurt cities like Flint.
Mustafa Ali resigned this week as the EPA’s Chief Environmental Justice official. He helped create the job two decades ago. Ali says he’s leaving the agency because of the Trump administration’s plans to cut the EPA’s budget by more than 20%.
“If the proposed cuts become reality, it will have huge impacts inside of communities like Flint and a number of communities across the country,” says Ali. “Rolling back those types of things will create additional burdens on these communities who have been struggling for traction in some instances….who have been struggling for life in some instances.”
Ali is joining the advocacy group Hip Hop Caucus. He's hopeful the Trump administration will eventually see the value of many of the EPA programs it plans to cut.
Ali was in Flint Thursday for the opening of a two-day conference on Environmental Justice. Flint’s lead- tainted tap water crisis prompted organizers to put together the conference.
The conference will look for ways to involve “communities of color” and other groups cut out from important decisions, like the ones that lead to Flint’s water crisis.
Jacqueline Patterson is the director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program She’s also in Flint for the conference.
She says that with the Trump administration planning deep cuts at the EPA and elsewhere, this is a "rough time" for environmental justice.
“You [will] have folks more exposed to toxins, but have less access to affordable health care,” Patterson says.